While gesturing beyond the culture of modernity and its assumptions and preoccupations, Catlaw (2007) argues there is a continued tendency to view the primary problems of public administration narrowly in scientific, epistemological terms rather than broader question about the ontology of modernity, specifically, its particular construction of the political and the divisions, relations, and objects that it posits. As discussed earlier, the political ontology of representation begins from the presupposition of ‘the People’ (Catlaw, 2006). In effect, this is a name for a positive conception of the human world and in the language of deconstruction it presumes a doctrine of being. Catlaw (2007) explains, “representation asserts that there is a constituted political community that is antecedent to any formulation of a state or government. Political institutions, thus, are not generative but, analogous to a non-constructivist view of scientific concepts, merely represent (as in making present again) the given preferences and desires of the People” (p. 228). While modern political discourse collapses this distinction into the nation-state, particularly in international relations, the split clearly persists in the idea of popular sovereignty and representative government.
Catlaw maintains the division between the political and the domestic constitute the very core of Western political life since at least the Greeks. By attaching the field to a specific vision of socio-political order, scholars in public administration have always been confronted with difficult choices about critiquing, affirming, rejecting, or assuming these divisions. Catlaw considers that if the boundarie...
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... human processes to make sense of the world. Historically as well as social-scientifically, the mistake is to view structure as permitting us to think that, once and for all, we have a sure grip on the Past and to “choose one of these histories to the exclusion of all others. In other words, while Bevir understandably sees a concern for structuralist ahistoricism, Catlaw sees as a fundamental problem with historisizing.
These works on legitimacy and modern representations of authority are deeply interconnected with human subjectivity, a new political ontology and biopolitical practice. This requires a challenge to the traditional views on legitimacy and subjectivity. The transformations of these take shape and form in Catlaw’s book Fabricating the People, and further developed in several papers. The following section will explore Catlaw’s posthumanist biopolitics.
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