deterritorialisation / reterritorialisation


deterritorialisation / reterritorialisation
  ---- by Adrian Parr
  There are a variety of ways in which Deleuze and Guattari describe the process of deterritorialisation. In Anti-Oedipus they speak of deterritorialisation as 'a coming undone' (D&G 1983: 322). In A Thousand Plateaus deterritorialisation constitutes the cutting edge of an assemblage (D&G 1987: 88). In their book on the novelist Franz Kafka, they describe a Kafkaesque literary deterritorialisation that mutates content, forcing enunciations and expressions to 'disarticulate' (D&G 1986: 86). In their final collaboration - What is Philosophy? - Deleuze and Guattari posit that deterritorialisation can be physical, mental or spiritual (D&G 1994: 68). Given this seemingly broad spectrum of descriptions two questions emerge. First, how does the process of deterritorialisation work? Second, how is deterritorialisation connected to reterritorialisation? Perhaps deterritorialisation can best be understood as a movement producing change. In so far as it operates as a line of flight, deterritorialisation indicates the creative potential of an assemblage. So, to deterritorialise is to free up the fixed relations that contain a body all the while exposing it to new organisations. It is important to remember that Deleuze, as well as Guattari, is concerned with overcoming the dualistic framework underpinning western philosophy (Being/nonbeing, original/copy and so on). In this regard, the relationship deterritorialisation has to reterritorialisation must not be construed negatively; it is not the polar opposite of territorialisation or reterritorialisation (when a territory is established once more). In fact, in the way that Deleuze and Guattari describe and use the concept, deterritorialisation inheres in a territory as its transformative vector; hence, it is tied to the very possibility of change immanent to a given territory.
  Qualitatively speaking there are two different deterritorialising movements: absolute and relative. Philosophy is an example of absolute deterritorialisation and capital is an example of relative deterritorialisation. Absolute deterritorialisation is a way of moving and as such it has nothing to do with how fast or slow deterritorialising movements are; such movements are immanent, differentiated and ontologically prior to the movements of relative deterritorialisation. Relative deterritorialisation moves towards fixity and as such it occurs not on a molecular but molar plane as an actual movement. Put succinctly, absolute deterritorialising movements are virtual, moving through relative deterritorialising movements that are actual.
  There are several different theoretical contexts Deleuze and Guattari discuss and use deterritorialisation in. These include: art, music, literature, philosophy and politics. For instance, in the western visual arts, faces and landscapes are deterritorialised. Meanwhile in philosophy, thought is deterritorialised by all that is outside of thought. In this regard, it is not the question that is deterritorialising but the problem, because the question seeks an answer, whereas the problem posits all that is unrecognisable or unknowable. They suggest that what is deterritorialised in music are human voices and the refrain (ritournelle). A helpful example here would be the composer Olivier Messiaen who, from around 1955 on, used birdsong in his compositions. In these works he did not just imitate the songs of birds; rather he brought birdsong into relation with the piano in a manner that transformed the territory of the musical instrument (piano) and the birdsong itself. Here the distinctive tone, timbre and tempo of birdsongs were fundamentally changed the moment these elements connected with musical organisation. Similarly Messiaen's compositional style also changed when it entered into a relation with birdsong, whereby these compositions could be described in terms of a becoming-bird.
  Yet as the bird sings its song is it simply being territorial? Here we may consider the way in which the bird refrain is a territorial sign. Deleuze and Guattari use the biological understanding of 'territoriality' as discussed in the studies of birds conducted during the early to mid-twentieth century; however, they push this work in a different direction. Bernard Altum, Henry Eliot Howard and Konrad Lorenz all suggested male birds aggressively defend a particular territory as a way of socially organising themselves. These studies of bird activity understood territoriality as a biological drive pitched towards the preservation of species. Instead, Deleuze and Guattari address territoriality from the position of what is produced by the biological function of mating, hunting, eating and so forth, arguing that territoriality actually organises the functions. The problem they have with Lorenz, for example, is that he makes 'aggressiveness the basis of the territory' (D&G 1987: 315). They claim functions, such as mating, are organised 'because they are territorialised' (D&G 1987: 316). In this way, they use the understanding of territory advanced by the ethologist Jakob von Uexküll, to help shift the focus away from a mechanistic understanding of life onto an expressive one.
  Von Uexküll proposed that there is no meaning outside of a milieu (Umwelt). For him a 'territory' refers to a specific milieu that cannot be separated from the living thing occupying and creating the milieu, so that the meaning of a milieu for Von Uexküll is affective. This is important when we come to consider the supposed slippage between deterritorialisation and decoding that happens in Anti-Oedipus but not in A Thousand Plateaus. To decode, in the way that Deleuze and Guattari intend it, means to strike out at the selfsame codes that produce rigid meanings as opposed to translating meaning. Rather than understanding deterritorialisation as destabilising that which produces meaning, in A Thousand Plateaus Deleuze and Guattari regard it as a transversal process that defines the creativity of an assemblage: a nonlinear and nonfiliative system of relations.
  Apart from biology the term 'territorialisation' can also be found in psychoanalysis. As early as 1966 Guattari used the psychoanalytic term - 'territorialisation' - in his book Psychoanalyse et Transversalité. Here, it was the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan who influenced Guattari. For Lacan, 'territorialisation' refers to the way in which the body of an infant is organised around and determined by erogenous zones and the connections it forms with part-objects. This organizational process is one of libidinal investment. As the infant undergoes a process of territorialisation its orifices and organs are conjugated. In the psychoanalytic sense, to deterritorialise is to free desire from libidinal investment. This freeing up of desire includes setting desire free from Oedipal investment (desireas-lack). Accordingly, the upshot of Deleuze and Guattari's reconfiguration of Lacanian 'territorialisation' is that the subject is exposed to new organisations; the principal insight being: deterritorialisation shatters the subject.
  In addition to the bioethological and psychoanalytic antecedents for the concepts of deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation, Deleuze and Guattari extend a political use to them. Leaning upon Karl Marx, they posit that labour-power is deterritorialised the moment it is freed from the means of production. That selfsame labour-power can be described as being reterritorialised when it is then connected to another means of production. Eugene Holland explains, when the English Enclosure Acts (1709-1869) enclosed common land for purposes of sheep-grazing, the peasants were concomitantly banished (or 'freed') from one means of production only to have their labour-power reterritorialised onto other means of production, such as when they became factory workers in the textile industry (H 1999: 19-20). During the early phases of industrialisation when capitalism was really gaining momentum, a system of deterritorialising flows prevailed: markets were expanding, social activities were undergoing radical changes, and populations moved from rural to urban environments. In one sense rural labour-power was deterritorialised (peasant and landowner) but in another sense it was reterritorialised (factory worker and industrial capitalist). Commenting on capitalism, Deleuze and Guattari insist that deterritorialised flows of code are reterritorialised into the axiomatic of capitalism and it is this connection between the two processes that constitutes the capitalist social machine.
  Connectives
   § assemblage
   § becoming
   § nomadicism
   § rhizome

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • deterritorialisation / reterritorialisation —    by Adrian Parr   There are a variety of ways in which Deleuze and Guattari describe the process of deterritorialisation. In Anti Oedipus they speak of deterritorialisation as a coming undone (D&G 1983: 322). In A Thousand Plateaus… …   The Deleuze dictionary

  • reterritorialisation —   refer to the entry on deterritorialisation / reterritorialisation …   The Deleuze dictionary

  • reterritorialisation —   refer to the entry on deterritorialisation / reterritorialisation …   The Deleuze dictionary

  • deterritorialisation + politics —    by Paul Patton   The concept of deterritorialisation lies at the heart of Deleuze and Guattari s mature political philosophy. Processes of deterritorialisation are the movements which define a given assemblage since they determine the presence …   The Deleuze dictionary

  • deterritorialisation + politics —    by Paul Patton   The concept of deterritorialisation lies at the heart of Deleuze and Guattari s mature political philosophy. Processes of deterritorialisation are the movements which define a given assemblage since they determine the presence …   The Deleuze dictionary

  • Déterritorialisation — La déterritorialisation est un concept créé par Gilles Deleuze et Félix Guattari dans L Anti Œdipe en 1972 qui décrit tout processus de décontextualisation d un ensemble de relations qui permet leur actualisation dans d autres contextes. Par… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • assemblage —    by Graham Livesey   The concept of assemblage, developed by Deleuze and Guattari, derives from the English translation of their concept in French of agencement (arrangement), or the processes of arranging, organising, and fitting together.… …   The Deleuze dictionary

  • assemblage —    by Graham Livesey   The concept of assemblage, developed by Deleuze and Guattari, derives from the English translation of their concept in French of agencement (arrangement), or the processes of arranging, organising, and fitting together.… …   The Deleuze dictionary

  • territory —    by Kylie Message   In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari privilege ideas of spatiality (evidenced by the privileged term of plateau ) and the geographies and cartographies of movement, presenting these as an informal antidote to history …   The Deleuze dictionary

  • territory —    by Kylie Message   In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari privilege ideas of spatiality (evidenced by the privileged term of plateau ) and the geographies and cartographies of movement, presenting these as an informal antidote to history …   The Deleuze dictionary


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