Foucault News

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

Gender Abolition, Michel Foucault, and Marxism-Leninism, Revolutionary Left Radio, Jul 8, 2018.

Alyson Escalante joins Brett to discuss gender nihilism, Marxist feminism, Judith Butler, Leninism, trans liberation, Foucault, social media discourse, and much more!

Emerson Maione, O justo e o verdadeiro: uma genealogia da justiça de transição pela análise da parceria entre o international center of transitional justice e a onu. Tese de doutorado em Ciência Política. Universidade Federal Fluminense, 2017.

Esta investigação propõe como objetivo a identificação e análise das procedências histórico-políticas dos discursos acerca da Justiça de Transição (JT) e a emergência dos principais discursos críticos contemporâneos formulados sobre esse tema. Levantamos a hipótese de que estas procedências de saber somadas às instâncias que institucionalizam o tema no plano global formam uma estratégia, uma tática política, associada a um dispositivo heterogêneo que demonstra como o conjunto constituído, no início dos anos 1990, por julgamentos, busca pela verdade, reformas institucionais e reparações, passou por modificações e deslocamentos contínuos. Para traçar estas mudanças usamos uma abordagem genealógica que visa destacar as lutas e disputas políticas e de saber ao redor do objeto e que visam, portanto, governa-lo politicamente e dar-lhe significado. Destacamos como a Justiça de Transição torna-se uma empreitada global, a partir do início do século XXI, com a tentativa de ONGs e da ONU de institucionalizá-la através de diretrizes internacionais e das chamadas “melhores práticas”, que buscam estabelecer parâmetros para a sua “aplicação”. Considera-se que a Justiça de Transição constitui-se como tática de uma governamentalidade planetária mais ampla, associada ao dispositivo diplomático-policial próprio à ecopolítica. Seguindo as sugestões de Michel Foucault, destacamos como os dispositivos seriam formados por um conjunto heterogêneo que engloba elementos discursivos e não discursivos. Assim, compreende-se a Justiça de Transição como um conjunto de saberes, organizações, experts, políticos, financiadores, entre outros, que funciona não necessariamente para fazer valer a “justiça” e a “verdade”, mas para estabilizar e pacificar países pós-transicionais ou pós-conflitos de acordo com interesses múltiplos. A articulação entre a tática JT e os dispositivos de governamentalidade planetária é estudada a partir da análise da parceria entre a ONG International Center of Transitional Justice e a Organização das Nações Unidas.

Palavras-chave: Justiça de Transição; Genealogia; Michel Foucault; Dispositivo; ONU; ICTJ.


This research aims to identify and analyze the historico-political origins of the discourses that coalesce around transitional justice and the emergence of the main contemporary critical discourses. As a hypothesis we suggest that these knowledge frameworks together with the organizations that institutionalize transitional justice on the global stage constitute a strategy, a political tactics associated with a heterogeneous dispositif. This tactics show how the set formed, in the early nineties, by the search for truth and justice, institutional reforms and reparations has been through continuous modifications. To trace these changes we use a genealogical approach that aims to highlight the political and knowledge disputes around the object that at the same time seeks to govern it and give it meaning. We trace how transitional justice, from the early twentieth first century on, became a global enterprise due to the initiatives of NGOs and the UN to institutionalize it through international guidelines and the so-called “best practices”, which establish frameworks for its “application”. In this work, Transitional Justice is seen as a tactics of the diplomatic-police dispositif which is part of a broader planetary governmentality, known as ecopolitics. Following the suggestions of Michel Foucault, dispositifs are formed by a thoroughly heterogeneous ensemble consisting both of discursive and non-discursive elements. Thus, it is argued that this set of knowledges, organizations, experts, politicians, and funders is not necessarily concerned with “truth” and “justice”, but aims to stabilize and pacify post-transitional or postconflict states in line with a variety of interests. The articulations of the TJ tactics with the dispositifs of the planetary governmentality is done through the analysis of the partnership between an NGO, the International Center of Transitional Justice, and the Organization of the United Nations.

Keywords: Transitional Justice; Genealogy; Michel Foucault; Dispositif; UN; ICTJ.

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Progressive Geographies

The publication of Foucault’s courses from the 1950s and 1960s has been planned for some time, and now his 1964 course from Clermont-Ferrand La sexualité is listed as forthcoming in October 2018. Limited details at the moment, but here are the listings on Amazon, Cultura, Decitre and Fnac. It’s coming out with Seuil in the Hautes Etudes series, but is not yet on their website. I‘d previously heard this would be paired with a 1969 course from Vincennes on a related topic, but it is now listed as followed by ‘Le discours de la sexualité’. I’ll share more details if and when I hear them, or please add any other information in comments.

Update: Thanks to Daniele Lorenzini for confirming that there are two courses in this volume – the 1964 Clermont-Ferrand one, and the 1969 course from Vincennes Le discours de la sexualité. Claude-Oliver Doran…

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Pussy Riot’s Masha Alyokhina aims to fire up D.C.’s freedom fighters with a book and a play – The Washington Post By Sadie Dingfelder October 18, 2017

Editor: old news

A member of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot, Maria “Masha” Alyokhina spent nearly two years in a Siberian prison camp for singing a song in a Russian Orthodox Church that accused religious authorities of collaborating with the KGB and asked the Virgin Mary to drive away Vladimir Putin.
While in the area, Alyokhina will also appear in a play, “Burning Doors,” that interweaves scenes from political prisoners’ lives with quotes from Fyodor Dostoevsky and Michel Foucault. Performed in Russian and Belarusian with English subtitles, the play includes actual physical violence and meta-commentary — including a mid-play Q&A with Alyokhina. We had our own questions for her.

read more

Robotic Doves Circling over Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, Hans Sluga’s blog

Our society has developed much further into a surveillance society since Foucault published his book and certainly since Bentham wrote his treatise on the panopticon in the late 18th century. This has not escaped the attention of social scientists and there exists now an extensive literature on the topic of surveillance. For all that, we still need to reflect much more on this theme.
A useful stimulus to this end comes from a new report on a further step in the development of surveillance drones in the form of robotic birds. In the US, Europe, and China this development is well advanced.

‘In the Western imagination, reason has long belonged to terra firma. Island or continent, it repels water with a solid stubbornness: it only concedes its sand. As for unreason, it has been aquatic from the depths of time and that until fairly recently. And more precisely oceanic: infinite space, uncertain … Madness is the flowing liquid exterior of rocky reason.’

‘Dans l’imagination occidentale, la raison a longtemps appartenu à la terre ferme. Ile ou continent, elle repousse l’eau avec un entêtement massif : elle ne lui concède que son sable. La déraison, elle, a été aquatique depuis le fond des temps et jusqu’à une date assez rapprochée. Et plus précisement océanique : espace infini, incertain… La folie c’est l’extérieur liquide et ruisselant de la rocheuse raison.’

Michel Foucault, (1994) [1963] ‘L’eau et la folie’. In Dits et Ecrits vol. I. Paris: Gallimard, p. 268. [This passage translated by Clare O’Farrell]

Kerr, R.
The role of science in the practice of talent identification: a case study from gymnastics in New Zealand
(2018) Sport in Society, pp. 1-15. Article in Press.

DOI: 10.1080/17430437.2018.1435032

Talent identification is an example of a practice where ‘scientism threatens to engulf us all.’ Talent identification and development are areas where models perceived to be scientific have been uncritically adopted into sporting practice due to the belief that they represent best practice. In this article, I track the changing talent identification systems adopted in the sport of rhythmic gymnastics in New Zealand over approximately 20 years. The findings revealed that those in decision-making positions originally adopted the perspective of scientism in introducing a physical ability test which they perceived to have scientific value. However, scientific testing was later removed owing to the now empowered gymnastics coaches drawing on what Foucault referred to as local knowledge, acquired through their own experiences. Their experiences resulted in the coaches believing in the importance of what Latour described as social practices being more significant in talent identification than scientific testing. © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Index Keywords
article, decision making, drawing, human, human experiment, New Zealand, physical capacity, sport


The nineteenth annual meeting of the Foucault Circle

Stonehill College
North Easton, MA
April 5-7, 2019

We seek submissions for papers on any aspect of Foucault’s work, as well as studies, critiques, and applications of Foucauldian thinking.

Paper submissions require an abstract of no more than 750 words. All submissions should be formatted as a “.doc” or “.docx” attachment, prepared for anonymous review, and sent via email to the attention of program committee chair Don Deere ( on or before December 14, 2018. Indicate “Foucault Circle submission” in the subject heading. Program decisions will be announced during the week of January 15, 2019.

In light of the recent publication of Les Aveux de la chair (The History of Sexuality IV), this year’s meeting will include a discussion session on Foucault’s complex engagement with Christianity (relevant English texts will be made available on our website). The conference will begin with a Friday afternoon panel session and an evening reception. Morning and afternoon paper sessions will be held on Saturday, followed by a business meeting and dinner. The conference will conclude with paper sessions on Sunday morning. Presenters will have approximately 40 minutes for paper presentation and discussion combined; papers should be a maximum of 3500 words (20-25 minutes reading time).

Logistical information about lodging, transportation, and other arrangements will be available after the program has been announced.

For more information about the Foucault Circle, please see our website:
or contact our Coordinator, Ed McGushin:

Sept. 14, 1982 (from L to R): French intellectuals Maxime Rodinson, Pierre Nora, Michel Foucault, Simone de Beauvoir, Alain Finkielkraut, Jean Daniel, Claude Lanzmann and Regis Debray pose at the Elysee Palace after a meeting with then French President Francois Mitterrand. /VCG Photo

Editor: Foucault is behind Simone de Beauvoir

Claude Lanzmann, director of Holocaust film ‘Shoah’, dies at 92. CGTN, 6 July 2018

French filmmaker and writer Claude Lanzmann, whose landmark 1985 documentary “Shoah” revealed the horrors of the Holocaust over nine hours of chilling eyewitness accounts, died in Paris on Thursday aged 92.

Vegter, M.W.
Towards precision medicine; a new biomedical cosmology
(2018) Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, pp. 1-14. Article in Press.

DOI: 10.1007/s11019-018-9828-z

Precision Medicine has become a common label for data-intensive and patient-driven biomedical research. Its intended future is reflected in endeavours such as the Precision Medicine Initiative in the USA. This article addresses the question whether it is possible to discern a new ‘medical cosmology’ in Precision Medicine, a concept that was developed by Nicholas Jewson to describe comprehensive transformations involving various dimensions of biomedical knowledge and practice, such as vocabularies, the roles of patients and physicians and the conceptualisation of disease. Subsequently, I will elaborate my assessment of the features of Precision Medicine with the help of Michel Foucault, by exploring how precision medicine involves a transformation along three axes: the axis of biomedical knowledge, of biomedical power and of the patient as a self. Patients are encouraged to become the managers of their own health status, while the medical domain is reframed as a data-sharing community, characterised by changing power relationships between providers and patients, producers and consumers. While the emerging Precision Medicine cosmology may surpass existing knowledge frameworks; it obscures previous traditions and reduces research-subjects to mere data. This in turn, means that the individual is both subjected to the neoliberal demand to share personal information, and at the same time has acquired the positive ‘right’ to become a member of the data-sharing community. The subject has to constantly negotiate the meaning of his or her data, which can either enable self-expression, or function as a commanding Superego. © 2018 The Author(s)

Author Keywords
Big data; Foucault; Medical cosmology; Participatory medicine; Precision medicine; ’All-of-Us’ research program

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