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In the Place of Utopia

Affect and Transformative Ideas

Warwick Tie

Considerable socio-political change has re-configured the discursive space once occupied by ‘ utopia’. Within the cultures of late capitalism and the organisational matrices of bio-political administration, that space is no longer animated by images of idealised states that are yet to come, or by a sense of simple failure in the production of those same states. Rather, it is overdetermined by a condition of differentiation in the representation of reality. The origins of that differentiation of representation appear to lie deep within the modernist project. In the Place of Utopia explores how that condition of representation might be animated anew by the discursive circuits through which modernity has come to operate, so as to enliven the ability of transformative ideas to lever change from within a range of organic crises current to the world system: the financialisation of global capitalism; the subsumption of worker subjectivities to the logic of capital; the broadening of the metabolic rift through industrial-capitalism. Central to this animation of transformative ideas is the relationship between language and the body.
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7 For the love of water

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7For the love of water

The issue of freshwater might appear a long way removed from fantasy, jouissance, and their shared potential to re-sculpt the production of transformative ideas in practices of radical desublimation. Freshwater and its management cannot be divorced, however, from any concrete scenario within which the discursive space of utopia might be reformulated. Put bluntly, the sustaining of all organic life, even of a utopian kind, requires access to fresh water. As hermeneutic as the goal of this particular project might thereby appear to be – to rethink the place of utopia – it has as one of its material preconditions regular trips to the drinking-tap. To this end, as apparently remote as the textual consideration of utopia might be to the issue of water, the matter flows consistently through and around its construction. For this brace of reasons, the issue of freshwater management makes an excellent staging post at which to rest the movement of argument and to consider what that argument might thus far mean in physical terms.

Within the domestic context of Aotearoa/ New Zealand, the matter of water – of its accessibility and its quality – has come to be routinely framed in terms of ‘freshwater management’. This language appears to have become de rigueur for the analysis of water supply, also, within the broader global context of territorial governance; as issues of water scarcity and pollution come to recur with systematic regularity. In the immediate context of Aotearoa/ New Zealand, however, the...

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