Evading Representation: The Literature of Contemporary U.S. Anarchism

Hines, Frankie 2021. Evading Representation: The Literature of Contemporary U.S. Anarchism. PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Humanities https://doi.org/10.34737/vq232

TitleEvading Representation: The Literature of Contemporary U.S. Anarchism
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsHines, Frankie

Anarchist movements have been a prominent feature of the twenty-first-century political landscape, providing the basis for modes of political engagement that foreground the necessity of unmediated direct action and horizontal organisation, in pursuit of the eradication of all forms of domination. This thesis frames contemporary anarchist movements and subcultures in the United States as sites of literary production, and examines the texts produced in these spaces in terms of their literary functions, resonances and inheritances. It proposes as a theoretical orientation an anarchist literary instrumentalism, which draws extensively on Deleuze and Guattari’s work on representation and the possibilities of a non-representational philosophy. This approach takes anarchism’s critique of representation as the basis for a new approach to texts which casts them as tools in political struggle. Anarchist texts are read for the political effects they produce, and the ways representation is negotiated and, to differing extents, evaded.
In subsequent chapters, attention is turned to a series of formal and generic orientations in contemporary U.S. anarchist literature. First, anarcha-feminist “consent zines” are considered: do-it-yourself texts that develop responses to abuse and interpersonal violence, and in so doing develop an account of an anarchist domesticity. Second, the thesis looks at communiqués and report-backs produced by anarchists during the anti-globalisation movement of the late 1990s and early 2000s: narrative and reflective texts that describe, in terms that manifest the preoccupations of contemporary literature with embodiment and temporality, the experience of collective action on the streets. Finally, the thesis turns to texts associated with nomadic anarchist “dropout cultures”. These texts, including several published by the CrimethInc. collective, are marked by a preoccupation with problems of hypocrisy and complicity: how, they ask, can one live an authentically anarchist life amidst the excesses of American consumer culture? This thesis contends that an instrumentalist approach which, in terms suggested by Deleuze and Guattari, follows texts’ effects rather than seeking to evaluate them, is both a necessary orientation for comprehending contemporary U.S. anarchist literature, and one that is capable of reflecting upon and responding to anarchist political commitments.

File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Publication dates
PublishedDec 2021
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.34737/vq232

Related outputs

‘A movement that renovates people, as well as buildings’: squatting and neodomestic space in Seth Tobocman’s <i>War in the Neighborhood</i>
Hines, Frankie 2021. ‘A movement that renovates people, as well as buildings’: squatting and neodomestic space in Seth Tobocman’s <i>War in the Neighborhood</i>. Textual Practice. 36 (7), pp. 1096-1115. https://doi.org/10.1080/0950236x.2021.1900374

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