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Title: Becoming indiscernible: from bare life to female machines. A study of the philosophy of Agamben and Deleuze in the space of science fiction
Other Titles: Becoming indiscernible: from bare life to female machines
Authors: Cox, Emily Venetia
Advisors: Watkin, W
Boudreau, K
Krzywinska, T
Brown, D
Keywords: Gender studies;Feminism;Posthumanism;Biopolitics;Philip K. Dick studies
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: The tendency within science fiction to satirise and expose dominant political and social structures works in harmony with Agamben’s paradigmatic, philosophical system, which seeks to similarly expose the functioning of biopolitical structures in the West. Agamben is known for his controversial statement that the concentration camp has become the paradigm of modern western government. A key aspect or biproduct of this process is the situation of bare life – a state of being excluded from the polis that emerges as a result of the suspended nature of the paradigm of western government. This state is one of political denudation, such that governments may sanction the abuse and even killing of certain groups: a chief historical example is the murder of Jews during the Nazi holocaust. Sf novels, particularly the work of Philip K. Dick offer unique insights into the process that produces bare life, partly by exhibiting its own specific examples: positing the inhuman or post-human, androids and even women as instances of such. This thesis argues that Womankind is perhaps the central and most pervasive case of bare life, given her long-standing historical oppression. Furthermore, the representation of women in sf often exposes and in some cases critiques the patriarchal power structures that have allowed women to inhabit this political state. The philosophy of Deleuze offers the much needed potential to break away from this never-ending system of female oppression that the current paradigm of biopolitics facilitates. His and Guattari’s system of becoming and immanence provides a framework for discussing the position of women as, rather than hopeless victims of a stagnant system, one of potential that they term becoming-woman; this process can be manipulated in certain emancipatory directions, freeing women from patriarchal, political practices. The sf figure of the gynoid in particular acts as a zone of indeterminate becoming whose presence in sf popular culture, literature and also in sf video games (e.g. the Mass Effect and Deus Ex series) is a conduit for exploring and imagining alternatives to current modes of being that are not necessarily gendered. I call this process becoming-gynoid, which offers new avenues for exploration in terms of gender and feminist theory both in sf fiction and sf video games.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
Appears in Collections:English and Creative Writing
Dept of Arts and Humanities Theses

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