The Use of Dispossession and the Dispossession of Use: Perspective for nanopolitical experimentation

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper proposes some reflections on the notions of “dispossession” and “use”, attempting to identify enabling points of convergence between the two. Dispossession carries within itself an aporia. While, on one hand, it connotes a mode of subjugation, on the other hand, when designating a condition of being ‘moved to the other and by the other – exposed to and affected by the other’s vulnerability’ (Butler and Athanasiou, 2013: 1), dispossession can be understood as a fugitive relation to processes of liberal subjectivation. In the work of Moten and Harney, it is this latter acceptation that comes to name the undercommons’ insurgent sociality, operating as something of an ontological sabotage. Agamben’s rethinking of “use”, it will be argued here, can be intended as yet another articulation of the same mechanism: a form of gestural practice that collapses any clear distinction between subjective “agents” and objective “patients”, between effecting and affected – an encounter that, in its immediate plurality, cannot be appropriated. What can be learnt, what coordinates for action can spawn from this conceptual dyad? Can a dispossession of, in, and as use pose a challenge to ‘the sanctity of property and proprietorial notions of the self’ (Hartman, 1997:115) that threaten to colonise our (inter)acting? When observed against a backdrop of nanopolitical experimentation (Nanopolitics Group, 2013), dispossession and use could jointly help activate shared sensitivities, amplify ‘affective attunements’ (Massumi, 2015:105), and choreograph collectively embodied performances, rooted in the becoming one another’s condition of possibility for acting.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventCAPACIOUS: Affective Inquiry / Making Space - Millersville University, Lancaster, United States
Duration: 9 Aug 201811 Aug 2018


CountryUnited States
Internet address


  • Use
  • Affect
  • Dispossession
  • Nanopolitics
  • Moten
  • Harney
  • Agamben

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