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David Hicks and Foucault’s Web of Power


The story of David Hicks dominated public debate in Australia during the first decade of this century. Labeled a terrorist by the United States and Australian governments, hisinternment in Guantanamo Bay made visible a range of complex legal, social and ethical issues, which emerged in the wake of the West’s ‘War on Terror.’ While much has beenwritten about Hicks, this paper seeks to examine the Hicks’ discourse in order to see howit illustrates Foucault’s theory of power. Foucault argued that power is produced discursively by the way ideas are talked and written about and he argued that it waspossible to alter power relations by making visiblethe rules which determine what is trueand false. In examining how Hicks was transformed from the ‘Australian Taliban’ to‘unlikely symbol of the sanctity of human rights,’ it is possible to see how power in aninstitutionalized and systematized social world isno longer about ‘confronting realitywith universal truths’ but rather the production of‘multiple and differentiated realities’(Archeology125). It is these competing realities which produce the strategic knowledge and tactics necessary for social change.


David Hicks, Foucault, theory of power

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