Benjamin Meiches, The Politics of Annihilation: A Genealogy of Genocide (University of Minnesota Press, 2019)
Review and podcast by Jeff Bachman
For a term coined just seventy-five years ago, genocide has become a remarkably potent idea. But has it transformed from a truly novel vision for international justice into a conservative, even inaccessible term? The Politics of Annihilation traces how the concept of genocide came to acquire such significance on the global political stage. In doing so, it reveals how the concept has been politically contested and refashioned over time. It explores how these shifts implicitly impact what forms of mass violence are considered genocide and what forms are not.
Benjamin Meiches argues that the limited conception of genocide, often rigidly understood as mass killing rooted in ethno-religious identity, has created legal and political institutions that do not adequately respond to the diversity of mass violence. In his insistence on the concept’s complexity, he does not undermine the need for clear condemnations of such violence. But neither does he allow genocide to become a static or timeless notion. Meiches argues that the discourse on genocide has implicitly excluded many forms of violence from popular attention including cases ranging from contemporary Botswana and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the legacies of colonial politics in Haiti, Canada, and elsewhere, to the effects of climate change on small island nations.
By mapping the multiplicity of forces that entangle the concept in larger assemblages of power, The Politics of Annihilation gives us a new understanding of how the language of genocide impacts contemporary political life, especially as a means of protesting the social conditions that produce mass violence.
Benjamin Meiches is assistant professor of security studies and conflict resolution at the University of Washington–Tacoma.
Paul Rekret, Derrida and Foucault. Philosophy, Politics, and Polemics, Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017
Derrida and Foucault offers a major contribution to the interpretation of these two highly influential thinkers. By tracing the moments where Derrida and Foucault’s arguments converge but also where they deviate, this book fundamentally recasts our understanding not only of these two philosophers, but of the political more broadly. Organised thematically around questions of epistemology, ethics, and politics, this is the only work to bring Derrida and Foucault’s whole oeuvres into dialogue with one another. This book frames a dialogue not only between their works of the 1960s and 1970s but also their works that deal with political questions around liberalism, capitalism and democracy. This book offers the first substantial critical assessment of Derrida and Foucault’s political work and also situates these crucial thinkers in contemporary debates in political theory.
Cai, Y. Borges and Ge Fei: Transfiguring the poetics of atemporal labyrinth
(2019) Neohelicon, 46 (1), pp. 303-329.
This article examines, from a comparative perspective, how Jorge Louis Borges configures his archetypal textual labyrinth in “The Garden of Forking Paths” and to what extent the Chinese avant-gardist Ge Fei is inspired to absorb, concoct and transfigure Borges’ aesthetics of maze into his own labyrinth poetics of fiction through a representation of lacunae, negation, repetition, memories, and particularly time and space. In this essay, Ge Fei’s fiction “The Mystified Boat” is analyzed under the notions of Bakhtin’s “chronotope” and Foucault’s “heterotopia” and discussed in depth in close relation to Borges’ metafictional story in the convoluted reconfiguration of narrative maze in a web of distorted historical times and spaces. Instilling Borgesian fictional inspiration into his own work of art, Ge Fei is adept at utilizing labyrinths and omissions to metaphorically project the world and the mind as mazes through the nonlinear concept of chronology and the deconstruction of habitualization. With the theoretical frame of reference for his fiction, it is revealed that Ge Fei aptly converts Borges’ labyrinthine inspirations and influences into his own poetics of atemporal labyrinth to metaphorically represent in his stories the chaos of the universe and the mystery of the mind, fabricates the disorienting spatial–temporal realms that dissolve the nexus between fiction and reality, and reconfigures the diverse mechanisms of atemporal labyrinths between the inner and outer worlds. © 2019, Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary.
Atemporal labyrinth; Borges; Ge Fei; Geolocation; Metafiction; Repetition; Riddled lacunae; Time and space
The UK National Student Survey: An amalgam of discipline and neo-liberal governmentality
(2019) British Educational Research Journal, 45 (3), pp. 538-553.
The UK National Student Survey (NSS) has high status on the agenda of UK universities. Its rise in status is linked to its influence on national rankings and associated funding streams referenced to the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Consequently, many universities have implemented further assessments of student satisfaction, thereby putting additional internal performative pressures on courses and individual lecturers. The research contribution of this article comprises an analysis of the NSS through Foucault’s notion of ‘governmentality’, with a particular focus on his work on ‘discipline’ and ‘neo-liberal governmentality’. More specifically, by utilising qualitative data from interviews, research diaries and observations, it will be demonstrated how the NSS functions as a ‘disciplinary’ technology of government which subjects lecturers, departments and universities to intersecting panoptic gazes and perpetual ratings. In addition, the NSS can also be considered ‘neo-liberal’ in that it governs the academic population through narrow conceptions of ‘freedom’ and omnipresent competition. The article proposes that it is through the amalgamated forces of intersecting panoptic gazes, on the one hand, and neo-liberal free-market principles, on the other, that student feedback develops its power to govern. © 2019 The Authors. British Educational Research Journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Educational Research Association
discipline; Foucault; governmentality; National Student Survey; neoliberalism; student evaluations of teaching
Gobby, B., Niesche, R. Community empowerment? School autonomy, school boards and depoliticising governance
(2019) Australian Educational Researcher, 46 (3), pp. 565-582.
The public education systems of many countries have undergone governance reforms involving administrative decentralisation, corporatisation and community ‘empowerment’. In this paper, we examine the significance of local participation and partnerships in the context of public school autonomy and their corporatisation. Focusing specifically on the use of school boards in the Independent Public Schools (IPS) initiative in Western Australia, we analyse the interview responses of five IPS principals using Foucauldian notions of governmentality, governance and community. The analysis shows that school boards are conceptualised and mobilised through the narrow technical–rationalist discourses of governance associated with corporatised school autonomy. School boards function as a new form of governmentality that constrains recruitment and participation in school decision-making in ways that depoliticise education. In response to the rise of school autonomy and corporatisation in Australia and elsewhere, we argue for wider local participation on school boards and local engagement with, rather than eschewal of, the politics surrounding education and the public good. © 2019, The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc.
Community; Foucault; Governance; Neoliberalism; School autonomy; School boards
French philosopher Michel Serres dies at 88
France 24 02/06/2019
See also this link and this link (en français)
The philosopher, writer and academic Michel Serres died on Saturday June 1 2019 at the age of 88.
His publishing house Le Pommier made the announcement on Saturday evening. “He died peacefully at 7pm, surrounded by family,” said his editor Sophie Bancquart.
Serres was an extremely prolific writer and public figure in France, and was elected to the Académie française – a highly selective and somewhat grand French institution that issues edicts on the proper usage of the French language.
Serres was born in 1930 in Agen, a town situated in the south-west of France between Bordeaux and Toulouse. He graduated from France’s elite university, the École Normale Supérieure, with a degree in philosophy in 1955, after having studied at a naval academy. He worked as a naval officer for a few years before becoming an assistant professor in philosophy at the same faculty as Michel Foucault.
The Disorder of Discourse Fanny de Chaillé Michel Foucault
Co-presented with The Invisible Dog Art Center and The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Tue, Sep 17 at 7pm
Wed, Sep 18 at 7pm
French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault (1926–1984) is one of the most influential and controversial thinkers of the 20th-century.
Artist Fanny de Chaillé employs theater to restage one of Foucault’s most famous lectures, L’Ordre du discours (The Order of Discourse). She at once re-imagines this historical moment, which was never recorded, and continues Foucault’s investigation into the power inherent in words.
In her return to Crossing the Line Festival, de Chaillé presents this performative experiment within a college auditorium and simultaneously within the context of contemporary American politics.
Based on the work of Michel Foucault, L’Ordre du discours © Editions Gallimard.
In French with English supertitles
Tue, Sep 17 at 7pm
Wed, Sep 18 at 7pm
Tue, Sep 17 with Fanny de Chaillé and Guillaume Bailliart
No late seating allowed
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Frederick P. Rose Auditorium
41 Cooper Square