Resistance

Resistance has a different valence in physics, biology, the social sciences, and the humanities, but each usage alludes to withstanding or opposing a force, power, or pathogen. The online Dictionary of Critical Theory (Buchanan 2012) helpfully steers us away from the desire to fix the definition of resistance, and, instead, encourages us to treat the concept as a “problematic” or a “theoretical starting point that is at once perplexing and productive.” Many scholars in the humanities and social sciences have been deeply influenced by one such starting point: philosopher Michel Foucault’s formulation, “Where there is power, there is resistance, and yet, or rather consequently, this resistance is never in a position of exteriority in relation to power” (1990, 95). The strategic, fluid, relational, and always-open-to-contest understanding of power enabled the idea that knowledge is a power effect exposed to destabilizations. Asian American studies itself was born as a site of …

This essay may be found on page 216 of the printed volume.

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