Combining the most powerful elements of Foucault's theories, Clifford produces a methodology for cultural and political critique called "political genealogy" to explore the genesis of modern political identity. At the core of American identity, Clifford argues, is the ideal of the "Savage Noble," a hybrid that married the Native American "savage" with the "civilized" European male. This complex icon animates modern politics, and has shaped our understandings of rights, freedom, and power.
Michael Clifford is Associate Professor of Philosophy with the Institute for the Humanities and the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Mississippi State University.
"In a fresh and imaginative encounter with Foucault, Michael Clifford restages the central concept of 'genealogy' to explore the mythos of American social life. Tracking the ideological forces of rugged individualism in the spirit of Davy Crockett, Ernest Hemingway, Clint Eastwood, Clifford provides us with a rich genealogy of political subjectivity--the Savage Noble. This hybrid figure, both courageous and civil, white and native, will make a fine and fresh contribution to the urgent debates around cultural difference and political identification." -- Homi K. Bhabha, University of Chicago
"A lucid, stimulating, and persuasive account of the emergence of the modern political subject." -- Rey Chow, Brown University
"Clifford's book is an original work of genealogy that provides a critique of modern political identity as well as an expression of an alternative kind of political identity. It is accessible to people in many disciplines, well grounded in historical scholarship, and exceptionally well-conceived. He combines first rate interpretations of Foucault's work with a compelling, constructive account of political identity in the 'new' world. It is a book to enjoy as well to learn from." -- Charles E. Scott, Penn State University
"Clifford's most important contribution may be his bold appropriation of the late Foucault's notion of 'technologies of the self' whereby we fashion ourselves as ethical subjects. Re-reading J.S. Mill's On Liberty as a 'manual for living/subjectivation' Clifford enables us to experience our own self-fashioning as political selves identifying with Mill's ideals of individualism. Most controversially, Clifford maintains that freedom is an issue of identity rather than power, and that through genealogy we can liberate ourselves from forms of subjection, 'always being able to become other than what we are.' Clifford offers a sophisticated political optimism that is welcome in these deflationary times." -- Patricia Mann, Hofstra University