Necrolabour: A postqualitative contextualisation of contemporary work in respect to the philosophy of Georges Bataille
AffiliationCentre for Transnational and Transcultural Research, Faculty of Arts, Business and Social Sciences
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AbstractThis thesis represents a reading, existential at its base, of the protean space of contemporary labour, under the lens of French philosopher Georges Bataille (1897–1962). A historical overview of the understanding of labour reveals the contemporary moment as positioned on the threshold of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Anthropocene. A moment, which in the context of this thesis, is best described in eschatological terms and is defined by the notion of permeability. The fading boundaries between labour, life, employment or unemployment, the distinction between product and producer, the empirical real and the virtual, all these ideas seem to merge into what can be described as the overloading of the Cartesian body/mind divide, introducing a host of unexplored ontologies and subjectivities. The thesis traces the movement towards a paradoxical post-work society, where nothing is classed as pure work and yet everything is a form of labour. This is labour that is immaterial, affective, and most importantly, post-human. The contemporary labourer—an embodied osmosis between the human and the machine—navigates through a ‘life-productive’, subordinated to the wage relations, opaquely managed by the spectral machine that is the algorithm. The work of Bataille, strongly engaged with historical concepts of work, sovereignty and existentialism, offers a rich commentary whose absence has been detrimental in regard to labour theory. An oversight whose importance becomes evident when juxtaposing the modern consideration of the human, the citizen, and the worker as interchangeable, with Bataille’s designation of work as the origin of the human animal. This thesis picks up the thread that the late Mark Fisher first unravelled regarding the omnipresence of capitalism and the lack of any alternative suggestion. The concept of necrolabour results from an interdisciplinary approach that goes beyond relating Bataille to a particular philosophical tradition, in favour of an applied reading of Bataille’s thought. Utilising a Postqualitative methodology, this thesis argues for an Acéphalic (in reference to the secret society of Acéphale Bataille founded), approach to labour and extends Achille Mbembe’s concept of Necropolitics from the purely political to the sphere of work. Acéphalic thought offers a radical yet pragmatic way to confront contemporary existence. Proposing a ‘within and against’ mode, our working lives—and by extension, the existential framing of ourselves—are to be encountered.
CitationKerasovitis, K. (2023) Necrolabour: A postqualitative contextualisation of contemporary work in respect to the philosophy of Georges Bataille. University of Wolverhampton. http://hdl.handle.net/2436/625361
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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