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Immanence and Micropolitics

Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault and Deleuze

Christian Gilliam

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Maps the context and development of immanence and micropolitics, from Sartre to Deleuze, via Merleau-Ponty and Foucault

Christian Gilliam argues that a philosophy of ‘pure’ immanence is integral to the development of an alternative understanding of ‘the political’; one that re-orients our understanding of the self toward the concept of an unconscious or ‘micropolitical’ life of desire. He argues that here, in this ‘life’, is where the power relations integral to the continuation of post-industrial capitalism are most present and most at stake.

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1. Sartre and the Instigation of Immanence
2. Merleau-Ponty and the Fold of the Flesh
3. Foucault and the Force of Power-Knowledge
4. Deleuze and the Micropolitics of Desire
Conclusion: From Immanence to Micropolitics

About the Author

Christian Gilliam is an associate lecturer in political theory at the University of Kent. He has written a selection of articles on French existentialism, political subjectivity and micropolitics.


In his deft study, Gilliam provides a lineage of French philosophy from Sartre to Deleuze that grounds a conception of immanence increasingly employed within contemporary political theory. Beginning with the way Sartre’s philosophy moved increasingly towards a kind of ontological immanence, he shows how this thought is taken further in Merleau-Ponty’s conception of the flesh, Foucault’s micropower relations, and Deleuze’s concepts of disjunction, folding and desiring-production. In this way, Gilliam shows how immanence is necessarily cashed out in an understanding of politics as micropolitics.

- Nathan Widder, Royal Holloway, University of London

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