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Dancing ourselves to death: the subject of Emma Goldman's Nietzschean anarchism

Rossdale, Chris (2015) Dancing ourselves to death: the subject of Emma Goldman's Nietzschean anarchism. Globalizations, 12 (1). pp. 116-133. ISSN 1474-7731

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Identification Number: 10.1080/14747731.2014.971542


This article draws together two lively and provocative radical theorists, Emma Goldman and Friedrich Nietzsche, and suggests that a reading at their intersections can inspire political thought, action, and resistance in particular ways. The argument is framed through and productive of a particular archetype which emerges from a reading of these thinkers, that of The Dancer. Both Goldman and Nietzsche have been noted for their affect-laden reflections on dance, as an image of the subject which evades capture within the frameworks of discipline, morality, and ressentiment and which instead commits to a ceaseless and creative insurrection of- and- against the self. Here, I argue that through this image of The Dancer we can conceptualise a form of critical or anarchic subjectivity which can provocatively interpret and inspire radical political action. In the article I look at some of the ways in which dance has formed an important component of radical politics. However I also argue that dance as understood in the terms established through Goldman and Nietzsche moves beyond corporeal performance, indicating a more general ethos of the subject, one of perpetual movement, creativity, and auto-insurrection. I also reflect on the difficulties involved in the idea of ‘self-creation’; as we can see from the more problematic dimensions of Goldman's thought, creation is an ethically and ontologically ambiguous concept which, when affirmed too easily, can serve to mask the subtleties by which relations of domination persist. With this in mind, the article goes on to discuss what it might mean to ‘dance to death’, to negotiate the burden of transvaluation, limitless responsibility, and perpetual struggle which these two thinkers evoke, in the service of a creative and limitless radical political praxis.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2014 Taylor & Francis
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 03 May 2017 11:03
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 02:58

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