I am sharing my contribution to an event that took place at SOAS, University of London, “Conceptual Itineraries: The Roots and Routes of the Political,” on June 10th. I have preserved it in the form it was given, but as I have not published anything as yet from my work on use (I will be submitting the manuscript to my publishers at the end of the summer) I have added some explanatory notes as well as references. Please note this work is work in progress!


I have picked useful as my concept. I had originally said my concept would be use – I am working on a project on the uses of use.  Indeed when we think of our task today we might make use of use; travelling concepts as travelling by being used or travelling through use.  I tend to think of my own research activity as following words more than concepts, following words like happiness, like will, like use, in and out of their intellectual histories. To follow a word is to ask where it goes, in whom, in what, it is found. Maybe a concept is implicated in a finding. A previous speaker in this series took concept as their concept and created a sharp distinction between a term and a concept in part by making use of use; terms are in use; concepts are what we come up when we take terms out of use. I think to make a clear distinction before we proceed can make our procession about that distinction; we might end up with a more refined argument but the argument can end up being, perhaps somewhat ironically, about our own terms. Of course, when you follow a term, or using my word, a word, you are still singling it out, however much you show how words acquires baggage; carrying their histories with them: words as itinerant, words as heavy. A concept can imply abstraction, a way of dragging or pulling something away. When I think of a concept I think ouch. We might want to think of the verb form – to conceive – to give us more of a sense of how we are involved in an activity when we identify something as a concept. Involvement is not origination; a concept becomes something you pick up as well as pick out.

However we understand concepts, I changed mine from use to useful. This is partly because use is a small word with so much work to do; Rita Felski describes use as “workmanlike” (2003, 5). But of course the word useful includes the word use: we might even say useful is full of use. In my project on the uses of use, I am in the first instance approaching use biographically, a way of telling a story of something. For a path to be usable, it needs to be used, which means use can keep something alive, whilst disuse can mean disappearance and decay. If by being used, a path becomes clearer over time then the more a path is used the more a path is used. And if by being used less a path becomes more difficult to use, overgrown, prickly; the less a path is used the less a path is used; until you cannot even see the sign for the trees. To use a mantra from personal training, which can also become a philosophy of life, use it or lose it.

We can hear how use can be both a description of an activity and a moral duty, necessary for the preservation of something, necessary even for life. This doubling of description with prescription might be teaching us something about the work use is doing. Useful is more useful for a short presentation because it tends to operate in a more restricted way, at least discursively: useful is mostly used as an adjective, that which denotes the qualities of something or somebody. Useful can mean to be able to be used for a number of practical purposes as well as to be able or competent.  Useful is an adjective with a job description. As an adjective, useful tends to have a companion, a noun; what or who being described.

So let me start my exploration by using a pairing that acquired considerable importance in the early decades of the nineteenth century, “useful knowledge.” To travel in this instance is to travel back. Useful knowledge was a mission, a plan of action; and we might recall another meaning of a concept is a plan. The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK) which was established in 1823 by Lord Henry Brougham made useful knowledge a platform and a plan. Its core mission was to make knowledge more accessible by producing a series of pamphlets (such as the Penny magazine) intended for middle-class and working-class readers. The materials they produced formed a “library of useful knowledge.”

We can follow usefulness right back into the archives left behind by this organization. As Carolyn Steedman describes in Dust archives come alive by being used. She describes “it [stuff] just sits there until it is read, and used and narrativised” (2001, 68).[1] A box is opened, a document lifted out. A letter can be a lift. In a letter sent to the SDUK by William Adamson in 1830, the word use is singled out, double underlined, to make a point: that useful knowledge must involve use an activity.[2] I picked up the letter because of how it picked up on use. An archive might be what we create when we share an emphasis.[3] I have learnt from the sheer volume of what was left behind by this organization, how usefulness can be stuffy, can generate stuff: useful knowledge was not simply an idea that was in circulation, but it involved organising, administrating; meetings, minutes. When considering how concepts travel we are thinking of concepts as coming out of work; what is picked up is put into papers that are passed around.

Concepts can be busy or even buzzy. A few years before the SDUK was set up in 1817, Jeremy Bentham published his plan for a school based on the principles of useful knowledge Chrestomathia. Rather like his plan for a prison, Bentham’s planned school did not come about. The plan for the school, again rather like his plan for a prison, made use of panoptical principle as a design principle. It is thus curious for those interested in the history of ideas that Foucault does not refer to Bentham’s plan for a school in any of his published writings given how central Bentham’s Panoptican was to Foucault’s elaboration of power.[4] However Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish does have much to teach us about how usefulness became an educational as well as moral requirement. Foucault describes: “In the correct use of the body, which makes possible a correct use of time, nothing must remain idle or useless: everything must be called upon to form the support of the act required” (1977, 152). The correct use of the body is when all parts of the body are contributing to an action. Nothing must remain idle or useless: we can hear from the “must” the status of this speech act as command. At one point Foucault refers to mutual improvement schools and what he calls the Lancaster method:

From the seventeenth century to the introduction, at the beginning of the nineteenth, of the Lancaster method, the complex clockwork of the mutual improvement school was built up cog by cog: first the oldest pupils were entrusted with tasks involving simple supervision, then of checking work, then of teaching; in the end, all the time of all the pupils was occupied either with teaching or with being taught. The school became a machine for learning, in which each pupil, each level and each moment, if correctly combined, were permanently utilized in the general process of teaching (165).

We learn here that a class can become the body from which uselessness must be eliminated. A class becomes what we might call, following Mary Poovey (1995), a social body: from discipline and punish to discipline and care, or even discipline as care; a cog in a machine as part of a body, a living member that must be cared for if it is to remain in service. To become part is to be improved by taking part.[5]

It is here that we can begin to take a history of usefulness in another direction, travelling in a way that Foucault did not. Mutual improvement schools were also known as monitorial schools; they relied on the method of students becoming the teachers of other students. Monitorial schools were a significant part of the history of education in Britain and in the colonies. The educationalists understood to have invented the method are Andrew Bell and Joseph Lancaster. Bentham’s Chrestomathia could be described as a systematization of their combined work. Bell was appointed by the East India Company as Director of the Madras School for Eurasian Orphans of Soldiers in 1787.[6] Lancaster’s schools were primarily in working class areas of London; he opened his first school on Borough Road in 1798. We can learn from this historical coincidence. It matters. Alan Richardson notes “the discipline of England’s colonial subject and the internal colonization of its unruly ‘industrial classes’ – these twin problems inspired a single method or approach” (1994, 97).

Twin problems: a history of usefulness as a requirement is also a history of uselessness as a designation, a history of the problem of who became the problem. The singularity of a method teaches us how uselessness became a form of racial as well as class stigma. In England during this period there were many treatises published about the dangers of idleness for the labouring poor. As Sarah Jordan shows in her discussion of idleness in eighteenth century British literature and culture, idleness was not understand as universally compromising; for the rich, idleness was even narrated as a burden, a sacrifice of the happiness that would come from employment (2003, 49). Arguments for useful knowledge often took the form of arguments about class redemption: that education could save the labouring poor by rescuing them from idleness and vice. When work is transformed into duty, industry becomes virtue. Joseph Lancaster argued that “the rich having ample means of educating their offspring, it must be apparent that the laboring poor, a class of citizens so evidently useful, have a superior claim to public support” (1807, xi). Here an adjective becomes mobile, transferring a quality from one thing to another: the useful in useful knowledge is transferred to a class, the labouring class becoming self-evidently the useful class. It is more useful for more to be useful.

The requirement for more to be useful can be understood as a history of a restriction. Prior to Andrew Bell’s school there had been a debate in the East India Company about whether to educate the Eurasian children of dead soldiers. One address to colonial administrators in 1778 called for “methods by which this vagrant Race may be formed into an active, bold and useful body of people, strengthening the hands of dominion with a colony of subjects attached to the British Nation” (cited in Love 1913, 179). To become useful is to be rescued from vagrancy as well as idleness; becoming usefully employed as being contained in one place. Usefulness becomes here about an attachment to colonial culture; “this vagrant Race” was required to become what Homi Bhabha (1994) was to call, in relation to Thomas Babington Macaulay’s discussion of education in India over 50 years later, “mimic men.” It is important to add here that the Madras school was set up after policies were passed by the East India Company that restricted the social as well as physical mobility of Eurasian children.[7] In this way the spread of useful knowledge is profoundly linked to racial and classed geography. The mobility of a method translates into the immobility of a class or race of persons.

One thinks here of bodies that travel; of Andrew Bell’s own travels from Scotland to India (and back again). Of course Orientalism did not require a travelling body to travel as a body of ideas. James Mills (one of a number of utilitarian philosophers with an administrative role in the East India Company) argued that his History of British India was more objective because he had never been to India, never been swayed by his first hand impressions (Ahmed 2010, 123).  An idea can travel all the more by being cut off from a body. Bell however did travel to India and taught there. In An Experiment in Education first published in 1797 Bell observes:  “I had, at first sight of a Malabar school, adopted the idea of teaching the letters in sand spread over a board or bench before the scholars, as on the ground in the schools of the natives of this country” (1797, 11). Bell suggests here that the idea for the monitor derives from his imitation of a local practice; the colonizer as mimic. In his Futurism of Young Asia Benoy Kumar Sarkar used Bell’s account as an example of how ideas travel back from India to England: “England’s debt to India has been fitly acknowledged in the tablet to Westminster Abbey, which describes Andrew Bell as the ‘eminent founder of the Madras system of education, which has been adopted within the British empire as the national system of education for the children of the poor’” (cited in Tschurenev 2014, 105). But if Bell did not erase these signs of travel in describing how he came up with this method he does, in having a dispute with Lancaster about who first conceived of this method, appropriate it as his own; appropriation is another kind of travel.

A method becomes mobile when it is a method of controlling movement. The monitorial method was indeed precisely about control. I visited the British School Museum in Hitchin earlier this year; the last remaining monitorial school room in the world. The tour guide kept using the word “control” throughout as he pretended to be a master; the guided, his students. Control matters in part because of the large number of bodies in a small space. If you have hundreds of children in one room, where there are no partitions, you have to eliminate all unnecessary noise and activity.

A lesson requires lessoning what is not necessary for something to be useful; lessen, less. The monitor is a labour saving device: less teaching more. Bell described: “it is the division of labour, which leaves to the master the simple and easy charge of directing, regulating, and controlling his intellectual and moral machine” (1807, 3). The master is freed to master by students becoming teachers; a delegation of work as a distribution of power. Bell notes: “By these means, no class is ever retarded in its progress by idle or dull boys; and every boy in every class is fully and profitably employed; and, by thus finding his own level, his improvement is most effectually promoted, and rendered a maximum” (20). Critical disability studies offer us tools to analyse the techniques being described here. Licia Carlson for example describes how custodial departments “developed routines, punishments and physical tasks to prevent idleness” (2010, 44). In the monitorial school the reduction of idleness is also central to the machinery: a way of stopping some students from slowing the others down.

Bell summarises the method as “conducting a school through the medium of the scholars themselves.” This description does return us to Foucault’s arguments in Discipline and Punish (1977). I think however Foucault missed the significance of the figure of the monitor. Lancaster writes: “Active youths, when treated as cyphers, will generally show their consequence by exercising themselves in mischief. I am convinced, by experience, that it is practicable for teachers to acquire a proper dominion over the minds of the youth under their care, by directing those active spirits to good purposes. This liveliness should never be repressed, but directed to useful ends; and I have ever found, the surest way to cure a mischievous boy was to make him a monitor” (1807, 32). The implication here is that liveliness can be directed towards useful ends not only or simply by the students monitoring themselves (like the prisoner who takes on the gaze of the prison guard) but by how some students become monitors of other students. The monitor as method can be summarised thus: it is by policing others that you police yourself. Neighborhood Watch, which has become a form of national citizenship, rests on the monitor as method: a neighbor is invited to become the eyes and ears of the police by looking out for strangers, bodies out of place, where “out of place” is registered as a perceptual field, resting on darkness, on shadows, those who are passing by at the edge of social experience; passing by as being unemployed, loitering, queer, then, queer is here, then; not here on legitimate business.[8]

To become a monitor is also to be taught by teaching; you straighten yourself out. The monitor by teaching the other students has the lesson more firmly impressed in their own mind: “The repetition of one word by the monitor, serves to rivet it firmly on the minds of each one of the class, and also on his own memory; thus he cannot possibly teach the class without improving himself at the same time” (Lancaster 1807, 47). It is this aspect of Lancaster’s method that Bentham picks up. Bentham wrote: “By teaching others the scholar is, at the same time, teaching himself: imprinting, more and more deeply, into his own mind, whatsoever ideas he has received into it in the character of learner: taking of them, at the same time, a somewhat new and more commanding view, tinged, as they are, with enlivening colour by the associated ideas of reputation, and of that power, which has been the fruit of it” (1841, 9). Ideas become firmer the more they are associated with an increase in a sense of what a subject can do. The key to the monitor-as-method is how capacity is enhanced by positive affect. The aim is to create happy as well as useful children: “Before the effect of novelty is worn off, new habits are formed; and the happy children who are trained under the mild and generous influence of the British system of education, learn obedience with pleasure, and practice it with delight, without the influence of the rod or cane to bring them to order” (41).  The monitor becomes the rod, eliminating willfulness from the child without the need for punishment.[9] Power works here through incentive and reward. The word reward comes from warden, to guard or look over. The history of education as a utilitarian project is a history of rewarding that which is deemed most useful for governing a population.

If the history of the usefulness is the history of a requirement of some to be useful, a history of usefulness is also a history of how others are freed from that requirement. Bentham offers in Chrestomathia a plan for a school for the children of the middle-classes: “The more things he is more or less acquainted with, the more things he is fit for, and the better chance he has acquired of meeting with some occupation, according to his condition, and which shall be at once within his power, and suited to his taste” (1841, 16). We can contrast this account of the diversity of paths that enables occupation to become choice with Bentham’s writing on education in the work houses: “In the choice of subject-matters of instruction, utility—not usage—should be the guide. The utility in view ought to bear reference—in the first place to the situation of the individual during the apprenticeship; in the next place, to his situation in the world at large, after the expiration of it” (1843, np).[10]  This distinction between usage and utility becomes a social distinction. It is not simply that the concept of usefulness travels. It is not even that the requirement to be useful is distributed unevenly across a population. It is that for some use is tied tightly to a referential system; you must be useful for; or useful to, whilst for others, use is loosened, made freer, more creative.

If everything must in use for something to be useful, not everybody is required to be useful. Being designated as useless can have deadly consequences for those who are supposed to be useful. Bentham tells the story of a once industrious Mr Beardmore who sold his business for a good profit and then suffered a rapid decline until his early death, drawing on Mr Beardmore’s obituary from 1814.  Bentham makes use of a dead body to warn of the danger of falling out of use, of losing a sense of dignity and purpose. To fall out of use is to fall out of life. To cease to use one’s faculties is to cease to be.  Of course the implication is that without employment of a particular kind – a legitimate business – there would be no activity worthy of life.[11]

It might seem that Bentham followed his own words by submitting his dead body to an archive; he wanted his dead body to be of use. Bentham’s own body was dissected, under his strict instructions, 3 days after his death in 1834 by Southwood Smith, a medical doctor and friend of Bentham’s (who also wrote the introduction of Chrestomathia). And Bentham’s body, which is still on display at the UCL, minus a head or with a wax head, is seated in accordance with Bentham’s precise instructions; to create the impression of a thinking body.

Bentham’s useful death was and remains a visible death, a celebrated death. Southwood Smith had in fact in 1828 published a pamphlet: “Use of the Dead to the Living.” His lobbying led directly to the 1832 Anatomy Act, which aimed to end the practice of “grave robbing,” to secure a legal access to dead bodies for the purpose of scientific research. The first principle of Smith’s plan was as follows: “That the bodies of those persons who die in all infirmaries and hospitals throughout the kingdom, unclaimed by immediate relatives, be appropriated to the purpose of anatomy” (1828, 49).  It was the bodies of the poor, the detained, paupers, wretches that were to be appropriated for science. Smith adds: “No one can object to such a disposal of the bodies of those who die in prisons; no one can reasonably object to such a disposal of the bodies of those who die in poorhouses. These persons are pensioners upon the public bounty: they owe the public a debt: they have been supported by the public during life” (1828, 52). If Bentham’s dead body was a gift, the dead bodies of the poor and incarcerated became what they owed. Some bodies become disposable when utility can be extracted from death.  We can begin to understand how what seems to be a general or even universal requirement to be useful falls on some bodies and not others; utility whilst presented as a universal value, or at least one that alludes in some way to the greatest good for greatest number, becomes a system for extracting value from death. [12]

A history of usefulness is a matter of life and death. Becoming useful as being used up, the bodies of the enslaved, the colonized, the subaltern, the poor, the incarcerated; use as worn down, worn out, use as a record of life but use as a record of how a life is extinguished.

I want to end with a paradox. In speaking today I have used the names of many dead white men. You might have noticed; I hope you noticed. If the more a path is used the more a path is used, the more he is cited the more he is cited. Yes I am trying to counter the violence of a history often presented as moral history; utilitarianism as a history of morals and manners. But I have made still use of their names. A reuse is still a use damn it: a way of keeping a legacy alive. I recently wrote a book on living a feminist life without using the names of any white men.  And when I write of them in this project I do so because what I am following leads to who, to who has been deemed to come up with something. I do not write to them. I also write of those who are missing, who have been dismembered, whose names are not known; whose names cannot be used; those who are faint, becoming faint, fainter still. I write to you. We can mourn who we not know.[13] We can mourn the missing. If we do not mourn, we miss.

Saidiya Hartman in reflecting on the history of slavery asks: “what use is an itinerary of terror?” (2002, 772). And she suggests: “Tears and disappointment create an opening for a counter-history, a story written against the narrative of progress.” Mourning, she suggests is a public expression of one’s grief that “insists that the past is not yet over; the compulsion to grieve also indicates that liberal remedy has yet to be a solution to racist domination and inequality” (772).

Of what use is an itinerary of terror? I have tried to show how use can have a terrifying itinerary, although there other stories of use to share. We must counter this history by showing how liberal remedies have been the scene of collective dismemberment.

Wear and tear can be in the words we share; wear, tear, tears, too. Thank you.


Ahmed, Sara (2014). Willful Subjects. Durham: Duke University Press.

———————- (2010). The Promise of Happiness. Durham: Duke University Press.

———————- (2000). Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality. London: Routledge.

Anderson, Valerie (2011). The Eurasian problem in nineteenth century India. PhD Thesis, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies)

Bell, Andrew (1808). The Madras School. London: John Murray.

——————– (1797). An Experiment in Education Made at the Male Asylum in Madras.  London: Cadwell and Davies.

Bentham, Jeremy (1843). “Tracks on Poor Laws and Pauper Management,”

————————— (1841). The Works of Jeremy Bentham, Volume 8. Edited by John Bowring. Edinburgh: William Tate.

Bhabha, Homi (1994). The Location of Culture. London: Routledge.

Brunon-Ernst, Anne (2012). “Deconstructing the Panoptican into Plural Panopticans,” in Beyond Foucault: New Perspectives on Bentham’s Panoptican. New York: Routledge. 17-42.

—————————– (2012b). Utilitarian Biopolitics: Bentham, Foucault and Modern Power. London: Routledge.

Carlson, Licia (2010). The Face of Intellectual Disability: Philosophical Reflections. Indiana University Press.

Felski, Rita (2013) “Introduction,” New Literary History, Special Issue on Use, 44, 4: v-x11.

Foucault, Michel (1977). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Vintage Books.

Hartman, Saidiya (2002). “The Time of Slavery,” South Atlantic Quarterly, 101-4, 757-777.

Jordan, Sarah (2003). The Anxieties of Idleness: Idleness in Eighteenth Century British Literature. Bucknell University Press: Lewisburg.

Lancaster, Joseph  (1812). British System of Education. Georgetown: Joseph Milligan.

—————————–  (1807). Improvements in Education. 3rd edition.: New York: Collins and Perkins.

Love, Henry Davison (1913). Vestiges of the Old Madras, 1640-1800. London: John Murray.

Mbembe, Achille (2003). “Necropolitics,” Public Culture, 15, 1: 11-40.

Richardson, Alan (1994). Literature, Education and Romanticism: Reading and Social  Practice 1780-1830. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Southey, Charles Cuthburt (1843). The Life of the Reverend Andrew Bell, Vol 3. London: John Murray.

Tschurenev, Jana (2014) “A Colonial Experiment in Education: Madras 1789-1796” in Barnita Bagchi, Eckhardt Fuchs, Kate Rousmaniere 9eds). Connecting Histories of Education. Berghahn.

[1] I had already decided to use this sentence from Steedman in my introduction before I bought my own copy of Dust. It was a used copy – in the project I am deliberately making use of used books. And a previous reader had underlined that very sentence! Use as a thread of connection.

[2] For the first time  I visited archives and museums as part of my research including the archives of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK), which are currently held at the National Archives; the British and Foreign School Society (BFSS), held at Brunel University; the records of early correspondence that led to the formation of London University, held at the UCL, as well as the British School Museum at Hitchin.

[3] In my introduction I discuss my archive in terms of “shared emphasis,” and how this relates to my previous way of describing my method as following a word/concept.  We can add here: the word use jumped out not simply because it was used. It is hard to write a letter without using use; use is a rather ordinary kind of verb and is often hard at work, a sweaty word. The word use jumped out because the author had given emphasis to the word. In chapter 2, I will discuss a marginalia in a published text that also stood out to me because of the emphasis given to use (Darwin’s comments on his copy of Lamarck’s Historie Naturale). I think this question of emphasis is interesting. Perhaps we have a bond when we share an emphasis. An emphasis can mean intensity of expression. In time, it came to mean the extra stress given to a word or phrase. Indeed I will explore in chapter 1 with reference to exclamation points, how emphasis requires a restriction of use to function as emphasis.

[4] In the project I explore how Foucault’s critique of disciplinary power, as well as his later work on biopolitics and neoliberalism can be understood in relation to the wider corpus of Bentham’s utilitarian project. Anne Brunon-Ernst (2012a) offers a useful discussion of the relationship between Foucault and Bentham with specific reference to Foucault’s use of the Panoptican. She points out that the Foucault develops his theory of power with reference only to one of Bentham’s many uses of the Panoptican (including in Chrestomathia) thus producing a very narrow account of Bentham’s work.  In her monograph, Utilitarian Biopolitics, Brunon-Ernst notes: “Foucault has been criticised for having portrayed Bentham as the inventor of disciplines, overshadowing Bentham’s achievements in other fields of thought: he has been considered a persona non grata in the world of Bentham studies” (2012b: 2). I will be drawing on Brunon-Ernst’s important work in my discussion of Bentham and Foucault.

[5] This book picks up the argument from my third chapter, “The General Will,” in Willful Subjects (2014), which draws on Mary Poovey’s model to consider how becoming part of a body is to acquire a “will duty.” I drew in this chapter on Blaise Pascal’s description of a foot that had forgotten it was part of a body, and was thus not useful to that body. This description from Pascal was one of my starting points for writing about the uses of use. In the book I pick up on the implied intimacy between will, use and memory.

[6] Many of the children taught by Bell were not actually orphans. The significance of being described as orphans is clear from Bell’s own description of the children: “But the great object for which the Military Male Orphan Asylum had been founded, was to rescue the children of the soldiers from the degradation and depravity of that class to which their mothers mostly belonged” (cited in Southey 1844, 170). I have become fascinated by this history, and will be drawing on the important scholarship that has shown how race and class were deeply entangled in the management of the Eurasian population by the East India Company in the nineteenth century.

[7] For a useful history of the changing policies of the East India Company in relation to Eurasian population see Anderson (2011).

[8] My argument in Strange Encounters (2000) rested in a way on the principle of the monitor-as-method: you become a neighbour/citizen not by policing yourself but by policing others – by detecting strangers, or “bodies out of place.” Here we are also considering how becoming a neighbour/citizen thus enabled an enhancement of capacity (reward for detection).

[9] The chapter from which this presentation is drawn involves a much fuller discussion of monitorial schools (as well as Bentham’s plans), and has allowed me to develop my arguments on education, will and willfulness from Willful Subjects (2014). The diffusion of the monitor-as-method has allowed me to track how positive affect was central to technologies of control.

[10] A key premise for Bentham in his writing on the poor laws was that relief maintained idleness, and thus encouraged pauperism, which was against the happiness principle (the greatest happiness of the greatest number). If general happiness depends on the unemployed not being maintained in idleness, then relief must be made to cause unhappiness. He thus calls for the stigmatising of relief. We can hear how this recommendation that relief should be stigmatising is preserved as a core assumption of contemporary capitalist society with its reliance on the stigmatisation of welfare and of those who receive welfare to create a moral distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor.

[11] Writing about the uses of use has allowed me to track how happiness became associated with employment as well as the morbidity of this association. It has made me aware that my earlier critique of happiness was if anything understated.

[12] In the project I thus explore the intimacy of what Achille Mbembe (2003) called “necropolitics” and utilitarianism.

[13] In the project I am trying to write about who is named in my story of use as well as whose deaths are marked (I have noted already how Bentham’s and Bells’ deaths are marked). For example I consider how some of the monitors are named in letters that have survived because of who they were sent to, or because of their own contributions to education or society. Becoming a monitor also meant: leaving a trace in the archive. This is another way that becoming a monitor became a commitment to memory.

About feministkilljoys

feminist killjoy, affect alien, angry queer woman of colour
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4 Responses to Useful

  1. Nameless Refugee says:

    Sorry off topic but I read your book strange encounters and could not help but marvel and your genius and intellect. Simply wanted to know that this has been one of the best books I have read in a while on any topic. People don’t thank good academics enough so here are a few scarce words of appreciation.

  2. Pingback: Institutional As Usual | feministkilljoys

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