The gender thing apparatuses and intra-agential ethos

Elisabeth PRüGL

In international governance circles it has become common to refer to gender interventions as “the gender thing.” The article takes this formulation as an opportunity to interrogate what a new materialist approach, such as that formulated in Laura Zanotti’s Ontological Entanglements, Agency, and Ethics in International Relations, could mean for international feminist theory and praxis. It first discusses the different ways in which gender emerges as an `apparatus’, juxtaposing Foucauldian formulations of gender as a biopolitical tool to Barad’s conceptualization of an apparatus as a measuring instrument and her understanding of gender as an apparatus of bodily production. Second, the article explores Zanotti’s development of the notion of intra-agential ethos and brings it into conversation with reflections on ethics and praxis in feminist IR. It critiques the erasure of languages of power from Barad’s theory and the failure to attend to difference in Zanotti’s notion of an intra-agential ethos. It concludes with an interpretation of what could be meant by references to “the gender thing” in international governance circles and develops connecting points between Zanotti’s intra-agential ethos and international feminist praxis.