chapter  48
17 Pages


In the contemporary political moment, it has become common to lament the fragmentation of ‘the people’, the sovereign agents of the nation. Thanks to postcolonial studies, however, we know this contemporary itself to be fragmented, divided along the fissures of race, class, gender, sexuality, national belonging; in a word, along the fault lines of power. What might it mean to think these two instances of fragmentation, apparently on opposite sides of the domination/resistance paradigm, together, to see what ways, if any, they mutually inform one another? What might it mean, along similar lines, to question the meaning and value of political unity or ‘wholeness’, the identity or ideal unity of the body politic which is often the implicit antistrophe to pernicious fragmentation? I will propose here that it might mean thinking of the arrivant, a figure not circumscribed by nation or identity. In cultural and literary studies, we might proceed by shifting our focus away from the art object interpreted thematically as an allegory encoding or expressing social contradictions, away from the privilege of representation toward a the analysis of poiesis, artistic production, as an example of theoretical, incipiently collective practice.