Next Article in Journal / Special Issue
Emancipating Intellectual Property from Proprietarianism: Drahos, Foucault, and a Quasi-Genealogy of IP
Previous Article in Journal
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Genealogy in 2017
Previous Article in Special Issue
Situating Poligen Studies: Between Moral Enquiry and Political Theory
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Genealogy 2018, 2(1), 4;

On the Political Genealogy of Trump after Foucault

Department of Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
Received: 7 November 2017 / Revised: 7 January 2018 / Accepted: 10 January 2018 / Published: 15 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Beyond Foucault: Excursions in Political Genealogy)
Full-Text   |   PDF [274 KB, uploaded 15 January 2018]


How would Foucault have viewed Trump as President, and Trumpism in the US more generally? More realistically, how can we discern and insightfully apply genealogical insights after Foucault to better comprehend and act in relation to our current political situation in the US? Questions of factuality across a base register of asserted falsehoods are now prominent in American politics in ways that put assertions of scholarly objectivity and interpretation in yet deeper question than previously. The extent, range, and vitriol of alt-Right assertions and their viral growth in American media provoke progressivist resistance and anxiety, but how can this opposition be most productively channeled? This paper examines a range of critical perspectives, timeframes, and topical optics with respect to Trump and Trumpism, including nationalist, racist, sexist, class-based, and oligarchical dimensions. These are considered in relation to media and the incitement of polarized subjectivity and dividing practices, and also in relation to Marxist political economy, neoliberalism/neoimperialism, and postcolonialism. I then address the limit points of Foucault, including with respect to engaged political activism and social protest movements, and I consider the relevance of these for the diverse optics that political genealogy as a form of analysis might pursue. Notwithstanding and indeed because of the present impetus to take organized political action, a Foucauldian perspective is useful in foregrounding the broader late modern formations of knowledge, power, and subjectivity within which both Rightist and Leftist political sensibilities in the US are presently cast. At larger issue are the values inscribed through contemporary late modernity that inform both sides of present divisive polarities—and which make the prognosis of tipping points or future political outcomes particularly difficult. As such, productive strategies of activist opposition are likely to vary under alternative conditions and opportunities—including in relation to the particular skills, history, and predilection of activists themselves. If the age of reason threatens to be over, the question of how and in what ways critical intellectualism can connect with productive action emerges afresh for each of us in a higher and more personal key. View Full-Text
Keywords: Trump; Foucault; genealogy; politics; modernity; critical theory Trump; Foucault; genealogy; politics; modernity; critical theory
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Knauft, B.M. On the Political Genealogy of Trump after Foucault. Genealogy 2018, 2, 4.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Genealogy EISSN 2313-5778 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top