Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Patricia DESROCHES, La « renaissance » du sujet : Deleuze, Foucault, Lacan,,
[vendredi 07 décembre 2018],

Livre: Frédéric Rambeau, Les secondes vies du sujet, Deleuze, Foucault, Lacan, Hermann, 2018

Un ouvrage qui s’interroge sur des modalités de « subjectivation » que l’on croyait disparues.
Le titre même de l’ouvrage de Frédéric Rambeau, maître de conférences à l’université de Paris VIII, suggère que la disparition du sujet – revendiquée par le structuralisme des années 1960 – n’exclut pas des possibilités de « régénération », la dissolution annoncée engendrant in fine de nouvelles formes d’existence. Précisons que Foucault, néanmoins, n’a pas toujours souscrit à l’idée d’une « seconde vie du sujet ». Dans ses premiers travaux (voir infra), il affirme que l’émergence des sciences humaines coïncide avec la « mort de l’homme », proclamation qui abolit la souveraineté du sujet ainsi que ses figures jumelles, l’anthropologie et l’humanisme . Lorsqu’il rédige en 1966 L’Archéologie du savoir, Foucault soutient que la raison analytique ignore l’homme : elle est incompatible avec l’humanisme. Un certain usage de la raison dilue le « privilège » humain, et en faisant de l’homme l’objet du savoir, le destitue de sa suprématie (qu’il s’agisse de la logique de B. Russel ou de l’ethnologie de C. Levi-Strauss). Si l’on s’en tient à la position de Foucault à cette époque, il peut être tentant d’assimiler l’apparition d’une « seconde » vie du sujet à un retour vers l’humanisme. Mais est-ce de cela qu’il s’agit ? F. Rambeau veut plutôt montrer que Deleuze, Foucault et Lacan ont effectivement mis en question(s) le sujet, contribué à dissoudre son « essence », ou, a minima, l’ont délogé de sa position prééminente (réflexivité, identité à soi etc.).


Progressive Geographies

In the second half of term I felt I made little progress, but have done a little reading and research in and around teaching, marking, meetings and other tasks. I did write the Introduction to a translation, which should be out in 2019. More details soon, hopefully.

On the early Foucault work, among other things I’ve been reading the Acéphale journal. Acéphalewas a journal founded and mostly written by Georges Bataille in the late 1930s. I know from his notes that Foucault read the journal, which was largely about Nietzsche in its short life. The British Library has some issues although all are online. But there was a reproduction of all five issues with an introduction that appeared in 1980, which I was able to consult at the Tate Gallery library.

In 1955, Foucault’s book Maladie mentale et personnalité was reviewed in Critique. The book didn’t have…

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Neil BadmingtonReview of Michel Foucault, Patrice Maniglier and Dork Zabunyan, FOUCAULT AT THE MOVIES, Edited and translated by Clare O’Farrell, Times Literary Supplement, 23 November 2018 (Needs subscription to read full review).

Although he once likened Lucian’s second-century Hermotimus to the films of Woody Allen, Michel Foucault is not usually remembered for his writings on cinema. As Patrice Maniglier and Dork Zabunyan note in their introduction to Foucault at the Movies, however, “he did occasionally cross paths with film”, and the book, which first appeared in shorter form in French in 2011, zooms in on these crossings. Its first section features two long pieces by Maniglier and Zabunyan on Foucault’s “inchoate, incomplete, incidental, almost anecdotal” encounter with moving images. While these essays are sometimes cryptic, they provide helpful context and identify how Foucault’s writings on film relate to his more widely known work on subjects such as sexuality, power, history and madness.

The second section brings together ten short texts on cinema published by Foucault between 1974 and 1981, some of which have not appeared previously in English. These pieces address,…

Neil Badmington is Professor of English at Cardiff University, UK. His previous books include Hitchcock’s Magic (2011) and Alien Chic: Posthumanism and the Other Within (2004).

Marcelo Hoffman, Militant Acts. The Role of Investigations in Radical Political Struggles, SUNY Press, Release Date: January 2019
ISBN13: 978-1-4384-7261-4


Offers a history of the role of investigations in radical political struggles from the nineteenth century forward.

Militant Acts presents a broad history of the concept and practice of investigations in radical political struggles from the nineteenth century to the present. Radicals launched investigations into the conditions and struggles of the oppressed and exploited to stimulate their political mobilization and organization. These investigations assumed a variety of methodological forms in a wide range of geographical and institutional contexts, and they also drew support from the participation of intellectuals such as Marx, Lenin, Mao, Dunayevskaya, Foucault, and Badiou. Marcelo Hoffman analyzes newspapers, pamphlets, reports, and other source materials, which reveal the diverse histories, underappreciated difficulties, and theoretical import of investigations in radical political struggles. In so doing, he challenges readers to rethink the supposed failure of these investigations and concludes that the value of investigations in radical political struggles ultimately resides in the possibility of producing a new political “we.”

“The kind of archival and synthetic work on investigations that this book evinces has been accomplished nowhere else. Hoffman’s survey provides the reader with an understanding of how investigations fit into the theoretical practice of many important Marxist thinkers, along with an argument for their utility. Further, original insights into these thinkers, which enhance or even contradict our available understandings with better historical evidence, are offered.” — William S. Lewis, author of Louis Althusser and the Traditions of French Marxism

“Hoffman focuses on a distinctive, yet little recognized practice of resistance and shows how it impacts and is impacted by the theories of ideology and power in which it was employed. The scholarship is not only sound, but truly pathbreaking in its treatment of various traditions, languages, and even its usage of extremely diverse source materials.” — Kevin Thompson, DePaul University

Marcelo Hoffman is an independent scholar who received his PhD in international studies from the University of Denver and the author of Foucault and Power: The Influence of Political Engagement on Theories of Power. He recently served as a Visiting Specialist Professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Human Sciences of the State University of Campinas in Brazil.

Gordon Hull, Foucault’s “Analytic Philosophy of Politics”, New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science, 02 July 2018

The current issue of Foucault Studies contains the first English translation of a lecture Foucault gave in Japan in 1978.  This “Analytic Philosophy of Politics” is essential reading if you have an interest in the transition between Foucault’s “power” and “ethics” work and/or his later understanding of power and resistance.  The Tokyo lecture underscores a profound continuity in his thought along a number of lines. Here are a few things that emerged for me on a first reading (there are also references to Confucianism that I am totally unqualified to address, so I will simply note that they are present):

(1) Foucault proposes that the question of power emerges in the wake of fascism and Stalinism, which he treats as both singular but as tied to “a whole series of mechanisms that already existed within social and political systems” (189).  That is, movements now challenge “this overproduction of power that Stalinism and fascism clearly manifested in its stark and monstrous state” (189).  The emphasis on Stalinism and fascism corresponds to the lectures that bookend Society must be Defended a few years prior, where Foucault begins by critiquing “totalitarian” discourses in the form of orthodox Marxism and closes with an analysis of state racism (exemplified by the Nazis) as a form of biopower.  So too, at the beginning of SMD, he refers to some of the same movements – anti-psychiatry, the recovery of “subjugated knowledges” that are the examples in the Tokyo lecture.

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Interview with Shelley Tremain by Dave O’Brien on
Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability, University of Michigan Press 2017
September 11, 2018 Podcast, New Books Network

How should we understand disability? In Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability (University of Michigan Press, 2017), Dr. Shelley Tremain explores this complex question from the perspective of feminist philosophy, using the work of Michel Foucault. The book is a fascinating critique of much contemporary philosophy and policy, providing a detailed, but easy to follow overview of key works in feminism and in Foucault’s thought. The book places these discussions in the context of inequalities within academic philosophy itself, drawing attention to the marginalisation of key questions of disability and gender from contemporary philosophy as it is currently organised. Overall the book is important reading not only for disability studies and philosophy, but anyone wanting to understand how society disadvantages difference. You can read more of Dr. Tremain’s work, and key debates on philosophy and disability as part of the Discrimination and Disadvantage blog.

Seyla Benhabib, Below the Asphalt Lies the Beach. Reflections on the legacy of the Frankfurt School, Boston Review, A political and literary forum, October 09, 2018

The Dialectic of Enlightenment is a bridge text to a broader conception of critical theory—of oppositional and emancipatory knowledge—that emerged in the last decades of the twentieth century. Although Michel Foucault quipped that he had never read the Dialectic of Enlightenment (published in 1944), his work replaced the creative subject that Horkheimer took from Hegel, Marx, and Lukács with a theory about how subjectivity is created. History is a not a record of the deeds of a collective or singular subject, he argued; rather, it is formed by a series of epistemes—configurations of power-knowledge—each giving shape to different conceptions of knowledge and action. In the essay “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History,” Foucault explains that whereas archaeology digs into the layers of what is manifest in the present, genealogy searches for the breaks and displacements between the source and the phenomena. Genealogy searches for emergence (Herkunft), but emergence does not mean a smooth evolution from a known original (Ursprung). Just as there is no continuous narrative that can be told of a unified collective subject unfolding in history, so too genealogy does not trace an uninterrupted line of development from the past to the present, providing a narrative of improved knowledge and moral progress. Instead, society is constituted by a discontinuous and fragmentary series of power-knowledge configurations, full of displacements and erasures. Knowledge is not just emancipatory but also disciplinary; power can only be confronted by power. “The ‘Enlightenment,’ which discovered the liberties, also invented the disciplines,” he writes in Discipline and Punish (1975).

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Alessandro Baccarin, Paolo Vernaglione Berardi, Archeoligia filosofica laboritorio. Un pò di storiaIl laboratorio, l’associazione, gli scritti, la collana editoriale

Tre anni fa abbiamo iniziato a ragionare intorno alla possibilità di rendere quello strano campo della ricerca filosofica che ha nome “archeologia filosofica”, un vero e proprio spazio di elaborazione.

Nasce così il *Laboratorio “archeologia filosofica”*, un laboratorio nomade che realizza incontri, seminari e testi sulla via aperta da Michel Foucault con L’ Archeologia dei saperi e percorsa da Enzo Melandri, uno dei grandi filosofi dimenticati del secondo Novecento.
L’archeologia risale agli apriori storici che hanno informato le epoche del pensiero per far emergere i rapporti tra saperi, poteri e soggettività.
Il metodo è genealogico, secondo l’accezione che ha in Nietzsche perchè scopre, alle spalle dei dispositivi di sapere-potere, i rapporti di forza, i conflitti, le convergenze e le tracce delle dislocazioni di valori in cui si compie il pensiero.
Giorgio Agamben ha dato al vasto campo di ricerca intorno ai dispositivi di sapere e alle soglie economico-teologiche della storia occidentale il nome di archeologia filosofica, indagando le figure dell’ homo sacer, della nuda vita, dell’uso dei corpi e dell’inoperosità come le più essenziali problematizzazioni filosofiche.

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Una storia inattuale. Recensione dei  libri di Ermanno Castanò e Tiziana Villani nel Quaderno XXIV (download pdf)
di Paolo Vernaglione Berardi

In una nota di preparazione alle tesi Sul concetto di storia Walter Benjamin esprime l’idea dell’animalità che solo nella modernità è diventata la questione dell’animale. Essa infatti è divenuta l’idea del rapporto dell’uomo con l’animale oggi degradata a discorso biologico, etologico, cognitivo sull’animale, e sull’animale umano alla fine della storia…

Le rovine selvagge (pdf)
di Stefania Consigliere

Levi- Strauss’ structuralism, with its fluctuating distinction between “hot” and “cold” societies, is both an apex and a turning point in the history of anthropology: refusing the hierarchies of progress while naturalizing human worlds, bringing reason to its further stretches while opening ways to narrative approaches. It seemed impossible, in his time, to appreciate diversity without falling into the conservative, or even reactionary, field. But things have changed: mixing present day Amazonia and ancient Greece into the landscape of ruins in  which we dwell, this paper explores the possibilities of reenchantment  that  open  up  when  –  overcoming  ancient  scotomas  –  we  make acquaintance with the ghosts of modernity…

La terra di nessuno. Droni, filo spinato e guerra ai migranti
di Alessandro Baccarin

Alla fine della guerra fredda, a ridosso della prima guerra del Golfo, negli ambienti intellettuali statunitensi legati agli ambienti militari e diplomatici venne elaborata una nuova dottrina bellica centrata sulle nuove frontiere tecnologiche e digitali che l’evento bellico in quegli anni si accingeva a toccare e superare…

Una questione di stile. Per Alessandro Fontana
di Paolo Vernaglione Berardi

Un’eredità senza testamento segna il limite del diritto pubblico fondato sul contratto. Un testamento senza eredità è la traccia dell’emergere di una scrittura senza soggetto in cui appare la distanza tragica di giustizia e diritto…

Orazio Irrera, La raison nègre et le corps d’extraction. Esprit, n. 450, décembre 2018, pp. 100-105.

En combinant le schéma marxiste de l’accumulation primitive et la biopolitique foucaldienne, Achille Mbembe propose une généalogie du sujet de race comme « corps d’extraction ».

Un des aspects les plus remarquables du projet annoncé par un ouvrage comme Critique de la raison nègre est la tentative de mettre en place un cadre conceptuel et historique large et cohérent aboutissant sur une généalogie du lien de sujétion raciale qui charpente notre modernité. Ipso facto, il serait trop restrictif de qualifier cette modernité d’européenne ou d’occidentale, et il conviendrait plutôt de la désigner comme globale, tout comme l’a été l’entreprise coloniale et impériale des puissances européennes, qui ont justement investi l’espace à une échelle transcontinentale[1].

Mais, à la différence d’Edward Said[2], qui considérait davantage l’orientalisme comme une sorte de matrice des rapports coloniaux et raciaux de pouvoir, l’angle d’attaque de Mbembe est plutôt ancré sur ce qu’il appelle la raison nègre, qui fait de l’Afrique le site géographique et géopolitique où puise son entreprise critique. C’est à partir de là que cette généalogie de la fabrication de sujets de race se précise dans toute sa spécificité historique, en se proposant de relier principalement trois moments majeurs : l’esclavage alimenté par la traite atlantique qui trouve dans l’espace de la plantation son foyer d’expérience privilégié ; la colonie, où l’assujettissement racial se remodèle en fonction de la mise en place d’institutions et de techniques de gouvernement liées à la constitution des grands empires coloniaux ; et enfin, l’apartheid, où les formes de ségrégation raciale amènent à une intensification ultérieure de l’expérience de soi comme sujet de race. Néanmoins, comme le point de départ de toute généalogie est toujours fixé dans et par le présent, la démarche généalogique de Mbembe s’organise autour du diagnostic d’un présent global marqué par ce qu’il qualifie de «devenir nègre du monde», qui se présente comme l’issue à la fois «de la planétarisation des marchés, de la privatisation du monde sous l’égide du néolibéralisme et de l’intégration croissante de l’économie financière, du complexe militaire post-impérial et des technologies électroniques et digitales [3]».

Orazio Irrera

\Maitre de conférences en philosophie de l’Université Paris 8, Orazio Irrera a récemment dirigé, avec Salva Vaccaro, La Pensée politique de Foucault (Kimé, 2017).

Matko Krce-Ivančić (2018) Governing through anxiety, Journal for Cultural Research, 26 October

DOI: 10.1080/14797585.2018.1537587

This article examines anxiety, arguing that it is a systemic feature of neoliberalism which regenerates the economy and acts in a conservative manner, thereby effectively preventing social change. Anxiety is explored using psychoanalytic theory to extend Foucault’s conception of neoliberal governmentality as proposed in his lectures on neoliberalism at the Collège de France. Relying on Foucault’s notion of governmentality as an analytic perspective, this article does not present the economy or the state as the origin of power in neoliberalism. Rather, these are seen as mediums of power, whereas the anchorage point of power relations is understood to be a particular form of governmentality. In neoliberalism, this anchorage point of power is largely supported and strongly characterised by anxiety. While examining the psychic life of power in neoliberalism, I avoid positioning and thus analysing anxiety either on the individual or the macro level of society. Rather, showing that anxiety exposes the weakness of such clean divisions, it is argued that neoliberal subjects are nowadays governed through anxiety.

KEYWORDS: Anxiety, choice, Foucault, governmentality, neoliberalism, psychoanalysis

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