Politics of Vision
: Towards an Understanding of the Practices of the Visible and Invisible

  • Priscilla Anne Netto

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The thesis explores the political dispositions lurking within the practices of vision, construed here in terms of the visible and invisible. It locates this investigation firstly, in the representational culture of colonial Singapore and secondly, in postcolonial Singaporean performances. Although the thesis takes as its point of departure conceptualizations of the practices of vision by Bhabha, Foucault, Lefebvre and Lacan, as the argument proceeds, the exploration takes its cue increasingly from the thought of Derrida. The chapters explore how the relationship to Otherness is variously effaced or enacted in practices of the visible and invisible. The thesis starts with an exploration of the practices of the visible in colonial power relations and postcolonial multiculturalism, construed here as a metaphysical sovereign political disposition, the predicates of which are the theological-political securing of the I Am Who I AM. Within this relationship to Otherness is a violent ethico-political relation to Otherness. However, in the thought of Derrida and Levinas, the relationship between 'us' and the 'Other' is the condition of possibility for both the Self and Other, for justice, responsibility, associated by an openness to the Other, including the willingness to be unsettled by the surprise of the Other-to-come. The second half of the thesis investigates the possibilities of a radical relation to the radically non-relational. Firstly, this radical relation to radical alterity is construed as encompassing a practice of the invisible, that of a poetics of the (im)possible. Secondly, this radical relation to Otherness is conceptualized as a 'writing in blindness', the counterpart of which is eschatological desire, accompanied by the 'art of the perhaps'.
Date of Award16 Nov 2004
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SponsorsEconomic and Social Research Council
SupervisorSusan Lisa Carruthers (Supervisor), Jenny Edkins (Supervisor) & Patrick Finney (Supervisor)


  • Singapore
  • colonial
  • postcolonial
  • Derrida

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