“Hap Walk”: A Reading of Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed and “Docile Bodies” in Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault
This paper grew from the imagining that Sara Ahmed and Michel Foucault, both influential scholars in my ever-developing understanding of the world, met face-to-face one ordinary day, discussed their ideas, responded to each other’s queries, reflected on historical and ongoing social injustices, and shared hopeful imaginings for the future. In this imaginary account, through the form of dialogues, I compare, contrast, and examine concepts in Foucault’s and Ahmed’s works—specifically, the chapter “Docile Bodies” in Discipline and Punish, published in 1977, and the book Living a Feminist Life, published 40 years later in 2017.1 Following Ahmed, I use path, walls, and tables as both metaphors and material effects of disciplinary power to link theorizations from the two texts regarding the embodiment of discipline, through which white, capitalist, and heteropatriarchal norms persist. Further, I ask questions of Foucault’s text about the seeming invisibility of women and disabled people in its discussion of docile bodies and disciplinary power and echo other feminist scholars in arguing that it is through the perspectives and experiences of those who have been cast out of belonging and rendered invisible that we may find the means to expose the most cemented and hidden structures and techniques of domination and to imagine forms of resistance and subversions that point to a different future. For the purpose of clarity, direct quotes from Ahmed’s and Foucault’s texts are italicized within the dialogues, accompanied by in-text citations.