On Benjamin’s Temporality of Crisis, Foucault’s Subjugated Knowledges and their Import in Theorising Revitalisation Movements: A Critical Theoretical Examination

  • Mark S. Dolson The University of Western Ontario
Keywords: Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, revitalisation movements, history, temporality


The central purpose of this paper will be to explore the socio-cultural phenomenon of revitalisation movements through the theoretical lenses of Walter Benjamin’s highly enigmatic approach to temporality and experience, and Michel Foucault’s notion of subjugated knowledges, and the genealogies utilised to unearth these subjugated knowledges. Inasmuch as Benjamin’s approach to history and human experience is extremely cryptic in certain portions of his oeuvre, a considerable portion of this paper will attempt to explicate this approach as perspicaciously as possible. In that it considers two very different approaches to seeing the world and socio-cultural phenomena historically, then, this paper is heuristic and exploratory – it offers a route through which to explore and work through two theoretical ways of approaching temporality and historicity in order to see how they contrast and compare with respect to changing (through agency, creativity, and the requisite conceptual tools) the circumstances of the present and future based on an optics of the past – that is, revitalisation movements. I conclude the paper by attempting to apply the aforementioned theoretical approaches to history to the 19th century Native American revitalisation movement known as the Ghost Dance.