Foucault News

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

Critical global citizenship: Foucault as a complexity thinker, social justice and the challenges of higher education in the era of neo-liberal globalization – A conversation with Mark Olssen,
Authors: Emiliano Bosio, Mark Olssen
Citizenship Teaching & Learning, Volume 18, Issue Philosophical, Ethical and Pedagogical Visions of Global Citizenship Education: Critical Perspectives from International Educators, Jun 2023, p. 245 – 261

This article presents a remarkable conversation on critical global citizenship education (GCE) between Mark Olssen, emeritus professor of political theory and higher education policy in the Department of Politics at the University of Surrey, and Emiliano Bosio, guest-editor of Citizenship Teaching & Learning. In developing the concept for this dialogue, we thought it necessary to frame GCE within a critical perspective that examines the political, economic, ideological and cultural conditions of super-complex societies, particularly in relation to notions of neo-liberal globalization and global justice. Olssen’s copious work has complemented postmodern philosophy by drawing on the work of Nietzsche, Foucault, Deleuze, and it has brought him high regard in Europe, the United Kingdom and worldwide; his insights, perspectives, concerns and outlooks bring to the centre of international educational debates on critical GCE relevant thoughts through which we can better understand the complex roots and history of global citizenship and cosmopolitanism particularly in relation to notions of democracy, equity, ethics and social responsibility.

Keyword(s): democracy; ethics; global citizenship education; global social justice; higher education; neo-liberalism; philosophy; politics

Le jeune Foucault et la psychopathologie: archives et éditions (2023)
22 juin 2023
ENS de Paris
Intervenants : Elisabetta Basso (Université de Pavie et Caphés), Claude Debru (Caphés), Mireille Delbraccio (Caphés), Henri-Paul Fruchaud, Marie-Laure Massot (Caphés), Vincent Ventresque (ENS Lyon).

Melissa Pawelski, Michel Foucault’s Figure of les corps dociles Following a Critique of the Cartesian Cogito, French Studies Bulletin, Volume 43, Issue 164, Winter 2022, Pages 10–13,
Open access

If we adhere to Michel Foucault’s argument that modern societies are governed by disciplinary power, we must take a critical stance on the Cartesian cogito, which Foucault understands not as a philosophical liberation but as a form of cognitive governance of the body and its senses. Thus the cogito, as a central rationalistic principle, fits within the development of modern discipline. Les Corps dociles are bodily figures modelled by disciplinary mechanisms, which Foucault depicts in the chapter of the same name in his Surveiller et punir. Naissance de la prison (1975).1 Features such as docility and utility characterize this body, and their development can be traced back to René Descartes:

Le grand livre de L’Homme-machine a été écrit simultanément sur deux registres: celui anatomo-métaphysique, dont Descartes avait décrit les premières pages et que les médecins, les philosophes ont continué; celui, technico-politique, qui fut constitué par tout un ensemble de règlements militaires, scolaires, hospitaliers et par des procédés empiriques et réfléchis pour contrôler ou corriger les opérations du corps. (Œuvres II, p. 400)

This is the only time that Descartes gets mentioned in the book. I shall place my focus on the father of French rationalistic philosophy, leaving aside works such as Julien Offray De La Mettrie’s L’Homme-machine (1748) that Foucault mentions in the quotation above, to examine the way in which the meditative components of Descartes’s method translate into Foucault’s docile bodies. I want to suggest that Surveiller et punir can be read as exposing the political implementation, in part, of the Cartesian understanding of the body in the form of disciplinary governance.


Yin-An Chen, Toward a Micro-Political Theology. A Dialogue between Michel Foucault and Liberation Theologies
Foreword by Jeremy Carrette, Pickwick Publications, 2022

Has liberation theology reached a dead end? Has the time come to propose another strategy of political resistance, one that considers and takes account of the complexity of power relationships in daily life? How can we explore the deeper meaning of freedom and liberation? This book begins with a reflection on the “failure” of social movements and revolutions and a review of the methodologies of liberation theologies. Offering a brand-new micro-political theology, it attempts to demonstrate how Michel Foucault can help us recognize the limitations of our standard definitions of liberation. Continuing Foucault’s critical engagement with desire, sexuality, and the body, this book opens a fresh dialogue between Althaus-Reid’s indecent theology, Latin American liberation theology, and radical orthodoxy, leading to an exploration of how that dialogue can remind us that spirituality and the transformative practice of the self can themselves be fully political. It also urges prayer as both the radical root of political resistance and its action.

Yin-An Chen is research associate at Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide and lecturer of theology and Anglicanism in Taiwan. He received his MPhil in theology from Kent, an MA in Christian theology from Durham, and an MA in anthropology from National Taiwan University. He is interested in queer theology, political theology, and critical theory.

Dalgliesh, B. (2023). The idea of the university as a heterotopia: The ethics and politics of thinking in the age of informational capitalism. Thesis Eleven, 175(1), 81–107.

Drawing on struggles within academe between faculty that promote critical education and advocates of New Public Management (NPM) who endorse instrumental learning, I reimagine the university as a counter-space that positions it as a counter-power to informational capitalism. Initially, I outline its twin threats: ethical, as self-entrepreneurial academics are valorised by NPM; and political, with informationalisation conflating spaces of thinking. I then detail Scott Lash’s specific account of how the info-comm society negates critique. However, his monistic understanding of informationalisation means Lash’s alternative of Informationskritik risks subsumption by it. I therefore defer to Jacques Derrida’s idea of the university. To ensure the autonomy of the principle of reason in a world of info-comm flows, the university is a supplementary body to society, yet intimately linked to it by its critical reflexivity, which is on behalf of society. Because Derrida does not elaborate the requisite institutional architecture, I conclude with Michel Foucault’s notion of heterotopia as a quasi-illicit site that is different and other. Such an institutional design enables the university as a counter-space that is a bank of reason and an archive of its manifestation in social practices. It also upholds a space for thinking, which in the form of nominalist critical history proffers a counter-power to society as an informational homotopia.

“Theoretical Puppets” use puppets of Deleuze and Foucault to discuss social theory and philosophy
Jennifer Sandlin, Boing Boing, May 10 2023.

[Editor: See the Theoretical Puppets category on this blog for all the Foucault related episodes]

If you’re a social theory and philosophy nerd who also loves puppets, have I got a YouTube channel for you—”Theoretical Puppets.” The folks who run the channel describe it like this: “Every month we release a new video and invite you to share our passion for puppets, social science and philosophy! Have fun!”

This isn’t just surface level analysis or a joke, though—whoever plays the puppets clearly has a deep knowledge of the work of the various puppet philosophers featured in their videos. The channel is heavy on French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault, so they’re clearly two of their favorites (and I’m just speculating here, but most likely the philosophers they studied in whatever humanities or social science graduate degree they probably hold). They’ve also made videos highlighting the work of Hannah Arendt, Bruno Latour, Sigmund Freud, Salvador Dali, Walter Benjamin, and more.

Legg, S. (2023). Carceral and colonial domesticities: Subaltern case geographies of a Delhi rescue home. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
Open access

This article explores a relatively rare archival account of female subjectivity, experience, mobility, and voice within a carceral institution in late-colonial Delhi. The capital’s “Rescue Home” was created to house women and girls removed from the city’s brothels under new legislation. While no brothels were closed in the first year of the laws functioning, the home accepted 18 women and girls and detailed their circumstances and experiences in its 1940 report. It was able to forcibly detain girls and was run upon disciplinary and racial lines, like other colonial institutions. But its inhabitants were not subject to detailed surveillance. Rather, their lives were ones usually beyond recording or whose stories were actively silenced. The 1940 Rescue Home report provides us with rich details of the commonplace, quotidian struggles which women and girls faced in colonial Delhi. The 18 case geographies of the Home’s inhabitants help us understand how sexuality and motherhood, education and character, and race all shaped routes into the home and destinations when people left. The accounts tell us of a carceral governmentality with influence beyond the disciplinary institution’s walls, but also of female subjects who resisted, spoke back, and absconded. This relationship between forced immobility and willed mobility suggests that brothels and rescue homes were not just connected, through the intended transfer of inhabitants, but can be directly compared as carceral domesticities.

Inédit de Michel Foucault : le discours philosophique, Radio France, podcast Samedi 13 mai 2023

Dans un texte inédit, le penseur français fait l’histoire du discours philosophique et l’aborde avec un regard critique.

Judith Revel Philosophe, traductrice, professeure des universités au département de philosophie de l’université Paris Nanterre, spécialiste de Michel Foucault et directrice du laboratoire Sophiapol

Orazio Irrera éditeur, maître de conférence à Paris 8

Comment la philosophie peut-elle nous aider à appréhender l’actualité ?
Dans un texte inédit rédigé en 1966, Michel Foucault se demande quel est le rôle de la philosophie. Il questionne le développement de la pensée philosophique, s’attarde sur Descartes, Kant et Nietzsche. Pas encore penseur du pouvoir, il esquisse déjà un regard critique et poursuit son travail de penseur de la pensée.

Circle U. Masterclass in History with Michelle Perrot, 27 March 2023. In French with option of English subtitles.

Discover on replay the Circle U. Masterclass in History with Michelle Perrot that took place on January 26, 2023 at the Carnavalet Museum as part of the Circle U. Week for the Future of Higher Education and Research.

Michelle Perrot is a renowned French historian, Emeritus Professor of contemporary history at Université Paris Cité and French feminist activist.
Through her pioneering work and gender studies, she is one of the leading figures in French women’s history.

This event was co-organised by the Circle U. European University Alliance and the Laboratoire Identités Cultures et Territoires – Les Europes dans le Monde (ICT) of Université Paris Cité.

Mark G.E. Kelly, The farce of the fifteen-minute city. Foucault and petty utopianism, IAI News, 17th May 2023

The 15 minute city has become a byword for modern planning, sustainability and the good life. To some it is a conspiracy designed to keep people in their place. However, through an understanding of Foucault, the allure of the 15 minute city is shown to be a modernist solution to a postmodern world writes professor Mark G.E. Kelly.

The concept of the 15-minute city, though based on rather older ideas in urban planning, has risen to quite sudden prominence in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, having been first proposed as a way to improve cities that leans into the pandemic-associated movement restrictions by trying to reimagine urban living to eliminate lengthy commuting, and then become in turn a magnet for conspiracy theories that already understood the very pandemic itself as an exercise in social engineering. In sorting out this mess, I would recommend you to consider the thought of Michel Foucault, who understood contemporary societies in terms of the interaction of power and knowledge to discipline the bodies of individuals and thereby minutely to regulate populations, as allowing a critical view of such ideas that does not require us to believe in a grand conspiratorial narrative.

%d bloggers like this: