||A term used by Gilles Deleuze, a French Professor of Philosophy, and Felix Guattari, a French psychotherapist and political activist, to suggest a new image of thought, one which thinks of the world as a network of multiple and branching roots \'with no central axis, no unified point of origin, and no given direction of growth\' (Grosz, 1994, p. 199). Instead, then, of a world of coagulations of entities which have to be held in thought, rhizomatics is about lines of flow and flight, processes of territorialization, deterritorialization, and reterritorialization, networks of partial and constantly changing connections.
What this means is that Deleuze and Guattari are not interested in models of knowledge which search for hidden depths beneath a manifest surface. Rather, like proponents of actor-network theory and non-representational theory (with which they have much in common), they are interested in connections and interrelations that are never hidden. For example, instead of looking for a connection between a text and its meaning, they look for the connections between a text and other objects, how it connects with other things. In other words, they turn the logic of representation on its head.
Grosz (1994) argues that rhizome is therefore based upon five elements. First, it is based on connection between diverse fragments. Second, it is therefore irrevocably committed to heterogeneity, to the bringing together of diverse objects, functions, domains, effects, aims. Third, it is also therefore committed to multiplicity, understood as a constant proliferation as unexpected connections are made, rather like the wanderings of nomads from place to place. Fourth, and relatedly, it is based on ruptures, breaks and discontinuities; any connection can be broken, bringing about new possibilities of different connections. Fifth, its model is the map, understood not as some Cartesian plane but rather as a folded and refolded topology which can be \'torn, reversed, adapted to any kind of mounting, reworked by an individual, group or social formation\' (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, p. 12).
\'Rhizomatics\' is, in other words, both a method and an objective. It names a contingent world of acentred and partial connections and it is also a means of doing things with that world by making new connections. It is a form of pragmatics â€” concerned with what can be done, put to work, made to do things, connected up; \'liberation occurs through addition\' (Goodchild, 1996, p. 2).
In human geography, this intrinsically connective practice of rhizomatics has made three main linkages. First, it has been used by a number of post-colonial theorists to find new ways of imagining landscape, which move away from the fixed cartographies of colonial regimes of representation (e.g. Carter, 1996). Second, it has been used by nonrepresentational theorists to bolster the argument that the real is not represented, it is performed (Thrift, 1996; see performance; performativity). Third, it is used as a general technology for undermining fixity and shaking up certainty by jesters whose jokes are always serious (Doel, 1996, 1999).Â (NJT)
References Boundas, C.V., ed., 1993: The Deleuze reader. New York: Columbia University Press.Â Boundas, C.V. and Olkowski, D., eds, 1994: Gilles Delueze and the theater of philosophy. New York: Routledge.Â Carter, P. 1996: The lie of the land. London: Faber and Faber.Â Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. 1987: A thousand plateaus. Capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneaopolis: University of Minnesota Press.Â Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. 1994: What is philosophy? London: Verso.Â Doel, M. 1996: A hundred thousand lines of flight: a machinic introduction to the normal thought and scrumpled geography of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 14: 421-40.Â Doel, M. 1999: Postmodern geographies. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Â Goodchild, P. 1996: Deleuze and Guattari. An introduction to the policy of desire. London: Sage.Â Grosz, E. 1994: A thousand tiny sexes: feminism and rhizomatics. In C. Boundas and D. Olkowski, eds, Gilles Deleuze and the theater of philosophy. New York: Routledge, 187-210.Â Thrift, N.J. 1996: Spatial formations. London: Sage.
Suggested Reading Deleuze, G. 1997: What children say. In G. Deleuze, Gilles Deleuze. Essays critical and clinical. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 61-7.Â Marks, J. 1998: Gilles Deleuze. Vitalism and multiplicity. London: Pluto Press.