Hegemony and Hidden Transcript: The Discursive Arts of Neoliberal Legitimation

Publication Type:

Journal Article


American Anthropologist, Volume 107, p.356-368 (Submitted)


In this article, I offer a reading of James Scott’s Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (1990) from an
inverted standpoint: Whereas Scott’s focus is on resistance from below, mine is on resistance from above. My case study involves some
of the more prominent legal and political responses to the attacks of September 11, 2001—notably the President’s Military Order of
November 13, 2001, establishing military tribunals for noncitizen detainees charged with terrorism. My analysis supports Scott’s thesis
regarding the discursivity of resistance while challenging some of his conclusions regarding the form and content of hegemony, as read in
the current neoliberal milieu. With respect to the military tribunals, I argue that their establishment represents an extension of executive
power rehearsed prior to the attacks, and that the politicization of security in the United States involves institutions and issues that have
long antecedents in partisan political terms.