Semester of Graduation

Summer 2023


Master of Arts (MA)


Philosophy and Religious Studies

Document Type



Political philosophy, visual studies, decolonial and queer theory are all concerned with images that promise and deny life in equal measure, figurations that motivate specific forms of life while occluding others. Today we are saturated with images and need to reckon with the psychosocial tropes, figures, visions, and metaphors that decide which kinds of life are worth living. Reflecting on the contemporary situation of late capitalism, this thesis argues that the relationship between visuality, desire, and political discourse needs to be made explicit once again, and proceeds to do so in three stages. The first chapter reflects on what it means to think the concept of the political in terms of trajectory and ethos and concludes that contemporary visual practices—always technologically mediated—play a critical factor in shaping our horizon of expectations. The second chapter concerns the visuality of language and argues that there are two ways of broaching the politics of metaphor. The first approach defines metaphor as a specific rhetorical practice locatable within language and divides metaphors into two camps: the good and the bad, the desirable and the undesirable. While this approach is not without merit, I propose that certain improper but obligatory metaphors are worth engaging in precisely because they have a psychosocial hold over us. The third chapter demonstrates this point by looking at the figure, depiction, and analogy of blindness. Blindness is not only a fetishized trope of disability, a problematic metaphor for lack, incapacity, closure, and finitude, but more profoundly, a trope that is used to occlude the question of the political, a trope used to obfuscate the very possibility of living a different life. For precisely that reason, I turn to contemporary decolonial theory’s paradoxically intimate relationship with figures of blindness and argue that tropes of blindness are not merely antithetical to political possibility, but the site par excellence for raising the question of the political. The question of the political is most needed where it is most occluded, and so one must ask, wherever representations and tropes of blindness are at play, what does the rhetoric of blindness hold in reserve?



Committee Chair

Raffoul, Francois

Available for download on Wednesday, July 10, 2030