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Love's Political Potential: Critical Reflections from a Deleuzian Perspective

Bloodworth, Lewis George (2023) Love's Political Potential: Critical Reflections from a Deleuzian Perspective. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.101774) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:101774)

Language: English

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Love has often been regarded as merely a private affair occluded from the public domain of the political - love supposedly fostering only an expanded individualism. However, the first essential argument of this thesis is that love is already coextensive with politics - that love is an inescapable force that underpins subjectivity and as such it cannot be excluded or marginalised from discussions of the political - and since it is inescapable, we must grapple with the way it functions at level of subject formation. Therefore, this thesis's central aim is to apply a Deleuzian conceptual framework to challenge the false separation of love and politics that has been established within political theory. Through Deleuze's philosophy of difference we can understand love as process not beholden to identity, we can say that is in fact pedagogical to the degree that love must always navigate the problematic, that which does not fit in love or when love fails the event as the return of desire is fostered. Disappointment in love is central to this process for Deleuze. To radicalise love, we must also confront two central principles of identity and cyclical repetition that ground subjectivity and limit its capacity to embrace alterity: Pleasure and Memory. These subjective modes are derived from the Freudian conception of love vis-a-vi his "pleasure principle", a principle Deleuze works through and challenges, this principle ultimately rendering desire and love as dependent upon a cyclical movement of retroactivity and recollection - love becomes beholden to the return. Deleuze coupled with Freud exposes this essential tension within the core of love and the means for its overcoming. The claim that I defend in this thesis is that love may typically serve as both a conservative force subjectively and politically, but that through a Deleuzian perspective we can see that in fact love's tendency towards repetition as recollection, which is driven by lack, need not sediment identity but rather offer the means for both overcoming love as it is constituted and the means for rethinking what love can do. By applying a Deleuzian perspective we can challenge the existing image of love, which only emphasises its operation at the level of identity and unification, by a repetition of sameness which can lead to love's most violent and traumatic excesses - and we can see love as a process that not only sediments the subject but also fractures it, leading to new potentials and possibilities. Love therefore functions at a micropolitical level beyond the segmentations of molar or macropolitical negativity and conflictual identities, love being a means to undermine identity from within.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Mackenzie, Iain
Thesis advisor: Devellennes, Charles
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.101774
Uncontrolled keywords: Politics, Philosophy, Political Theory, Deleuze, Love, Psychoanalysis, Poststructuralism
Subjects: J Political Science
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2023 17:10 UTC
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2023 15:49 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Bloodworth, Lewis George.

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