New Cartographers

The spatial imagery in Bowden’s critique of the “war on drugs” has strong resonances with another aspect of Foucault’s method, best captured in Gilles Deleuze’s characterization of Foucault as a “new cartographer”: “In brief, Foucault’s functionalism throws up a new topology which no longer locates the origin of power in a privileged place, and can no longer accept a limited localization (this conception of social space...is as new as contemporary physics and mathematics).”47

The topography to which Deleuze is referring is based on Foucault’s approach to exercises of power, which (quoting from Foucault’s History of sexuality) “are not in a position of exteriority with respect to other kinds of relationships (...) [they] are not superstructural positions (...) they have a directly productive role, wherever they come into play.”48 In short, for Deleuze, Foucault’s approach to power, like his approach to discourse, stresses non-representational immanence. In the case of discourse, what is stressed is not what statements are about but how they create their objects and the interrelationships among them. Just as Bowden’s “new geography” stresses appetites and forces, Deleuze suggests that Foucault’s new geography/cartography is best understood through the figure of the diagram, which is a map of forces, “a display of the relations between forces.”49 Thus, for Foucault, the history of geographic forms constitutes a series of events of power/knowledge. For example, as he noted in his conversation with geographers, their “metaphors” are best understood as strategic rather than descriptive,

Territory is no doubt a geographical notion, but it’s first of all a juridico- political one: the area controlled by a certain kind of power. Field is an economico-juridical notion. Displacement-, what displaces itself is an army, a squadron, a population, Domain is a juridical-political notion, Soil is a historico-geographical notion. Region is a fiscal, administrative, military notion. Horizon is a pictorial, but also a strategic notion.50

 
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