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PART 3 Governing through freedom: aesthetics and liberal governance

I have, in Part 2, sought to illustrate the general principles of my argument through two case studies. These have exemplified how the deployment of specific forms of anthropological expertise across the relations between museums, fieldwork sites and public spheres have ‘formatted’ the social for different kinds of governmental intervention in relation to metropolitan and colonial populations. The tack I adopt in Part 3 departs from this case-study approach. My concerns are rather to pursue a more general set of arguments concerning the distinctive properties of aesthetics as a form of knowledge that has played a crucial role in orchestrating the relations between practices of government and those of freedom. My purpose is, first, to trace some of the discursive transformations through which the aesthetic acquired the capacities that have allowed it to function as such a pliable resource across varied practices of governing through freedom. These are the questions I address in the next chapter. I then, in Chapter 7, bring this perspective to bear on the associations between aesthetics and critique that I touched on in Chapter 1. I do so with a view to identifying the respects in which these depend on a specific, and paradoxical, kind of authority derived from post-Kantian aesthetics.