Genealogies of Nothing: Enforced Disappearances, Fable Lives, and Archives in Erasure


  • Ege Selin Islekel Texas A&M University



Necropolitics, Enforced Diasappearance, Archives, Critical Fabulation, Resistance


This article investigates the political impact of collective story-telling practices in the enforced disappearances from a Foucauldian perspective. I utilize two main theoretical frameworks: on the one hand, that of necropolitics, a kind of power that works on the management of death. On the other hand, that of genealogy as a type of history that mobilizes subjugated knowledges. The first part situates these stories within the framework of genealogy: subjugated knowledges that are buried and disqualified as a part of the work of necropolitics. The second part argues that a Foucauldian genealogical approach to these stories is insufficient: necropolitical archives, when they testify to the work of power, remain incomplete at best and actively erase more often. The third part analyzes these stories as examples of critical fabulation. What is at stake in the insistence of the people searchers to tell their stories, I argue, is the collective emergence of another kind of fable – an act of fabulation in line with what Saidiya Hartman calls “critical fabulation,” which multiplies the possibilities of the present and the past by precisely telling stories of ‘nothing.’

Author Biography

Ege Selin Islekel, Texas A&M University

Ege Selin Islekel is Accountability, Climate, Equity, and Sustainability (ACES) Fellow at Texas A&M University. She received her PhD from the Philosophy Department at DePaul University. Her first book Nightmare Remains: The Politics of Mourning and Epistemologies of Disappearance, forthcoming with Northwestern University Press, investigates epistemic and political resistances engaged through acts of mourning in cases of improper burial. She is currently working on her second book project, Monstrous Visions: Mechanisms of Defense and Regimes of Visibility, which analyzes how the notion of danger renders racialized modes of death invisible. She is the co-editor of Foucault, Derrida, and the Biopolitics of Punishment (Northwestern University Press, 2022). Her articles in English and Turkish appear in journals such as Philosophy Compass, Theory&Event, Hypatia, CLR James Journal, philoSOPHIA, Philosophy Today, and anthologies such as Turkey’s Necropolitical Laboratory, and Writing Sex.


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How to Cite

Islekel, E. S. (2023). Genealogies of Nothing: Enforced Disappearances, Fable Lives, and Archives in Erasure. Foucault Studies, (34), 59–79.



Special Issue: Foucault, Our Contemporary