Foucault News

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

Pedersen, I.K.
Striving for self-improvement: Alternative medicine considered as technologies of enhancement
(2018) Social Theory and Health, 16 (3), pp. 209-223.

DOI: 10.1057/s41285-017-0052-3

The notion of medical enhancement technologies has drawn attention to optimization techniques within the health area. However, this notion has evolved at the level of governmental programmes, with very little attention directed towards people’s own practices. Using a social scientific body of knowledge about enhancement technologies and a Foucauldian analytical framework, this article explores how users engage with alternative medicine. Drawing on in-depth interviews with Danish users and observations of their treatment sessions, the article demonstrates how they embark on a voyage of discovery with the body to enhance their own selves and bodily resources. The discussion centres on Rose’s approach to medical enhancement technologies and Foucault’s notion of ‘technologies of the self’. A wider field of tension is outlined in which embodied alternative treatment practices play a role in various modalities of transforming and controlling bodies and selves. It is argued that such practices can be conceived of as enhancement technologies at the users’ level by showing how they not only concentrate on treatment and body maintenance, but also foster the enabling processes of changing habits, preferences, and attitudes, and creating a subjective sense of their bodies. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

Author Keywords
Alternative medicine; Foucault; Medical enhancement technologies; Self-care; Sociology of the body; Technologies of the self

Index Keywords
alternative medicine, attention, drawing, habit, human, human experiment, interview, self care, sociology, tension

Jayathilake, C.
Muselmann: Incarceration and the mobilised body in Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona’s The Island
(2018) African Studies, 77 (4), pp. 607-625.

DOI: 10.1080/00020184.2018.1497289

This article interrogates the status of incarceration, and prisoners’ rights or the lack thereof, as represented in South African dramatist Athol Fugard’s Anglophone play-text, The Island (1993)–co-authored by John Kani and Winston Ntshona, and premiered in 1973–with a view to shedding light on incarceration and biopolitical violence. The play provides significant theatrical testimonies of political prisoners and incarceration by demonstrating corporeal and psychological dehumanisation processes in prisons during the apartheid era in South Africa. Despite the scholarly attention on the play, it is scarcely read through Foucault’s and Agamben’s biopolitical lenses, coupled with Nelson Mandela’s prison testimonies, and this is where this reading departs from the existing scholarship. This article argues that South African black prisoners were in a prolonged period of oppression and offensive restrictions, and in a sphere outside the normal law, thus in a status of Muselmann. How the incarcerated body is mobilised as the focal point of struggle towards apartheid laws, and how it is linked to decolonisation is also examined. Prisoners attempt to regain their freedom and agency irrespective of their living circumstances–a figurative resistance to biopolitical violence. The article offers a contribution to the critical vocabulary of the play whilst interrogating the praxis of modern biopolitics. © 2018, © 2018 Taylor & Francis Group Ltd on behalf of the University of Witwatersrand.

Author Keywords
Agamben; apartheid; bare life; drama; Foucault; Mandela; modern biopolitics; post-colonial theatre; South Africa; state of exception

Menzies, F.G., Santoro, N.
‘Doing’ gender in a rural Scottish secondary school: an ethnographic study of classroom interactions
(2018) Ethnography and Education, 13 (4), pp. 428-441.

DOI: 10.1080/17457823.2017.1351386

This article draws on data from an ethnographic case study that examined how pupils’ gendered identities are constructed in one rural secondary school in Scotland. We utilise the work of Michel Foucault and Judith Butler to provide theoretical insight into how and why pupils take up particular gendered positions in school, focusing on the influence of teacher–pupil interactions. The findings suggest that some teachers reinforce traditional constructs of masculinities and femininities, and fail to disrupt boys’ views of girls as objects of desire. Teachers are also seen to reinforce gender stereotypes in their understandings of the rural landscape as an exclusive site for constructing masculine identities. We claim that this potentially limits pupils’ educational experiences. We conclude by suggesting that there is a need for teachers to develop deeper, more sophisticated understandings of gender, an area currently neglected in Scottish educational policy and teacher education programmes. © 2017, © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Author Keywords
education policy; Ethnographic methods; femininities; masculinities; teacher education

Performance | The Disorder of Discourse: Restaging a Michel Foucault Lecture

Tuesday, September 17, 2019, 7:00 pm

Because of the radical nature of his work, Michel Foucault’s 1969 appointment to a chair at the prestigious College de France was a watershed moment in French intellectual life. With actor Guillaume Bailliart, Fanny de Chaille proposes a restaging of his inaugural lecture, “L’Ordre du discours (The Order of Discourse),” which was later published as a book but never recorded. In doing so, she re-imagines a historical moment while continuing Foucault’s investigation of the relations between power and language.

Dancer, choreographer, and theater director Fanny de Chaille likes to separate text from movement, allowing the two modes of expression to rediscover each other and work within the context of that separation. After studying aesthetics at the Sorbonne, Fanny de Chaille worked with Daniel Larrieu at the Centre choregraphique national in Tours, France, where she collaborated with Rachid Ouramdane, and participated in projects by artists Thomas Hirschhorn and Pierre Huyghe. Beginning in 1995, she has created her own installations and performances, while continuing a rich series of collaborations, in particular with writer Pierre Alferi.

Paul-Michel Foucault (1926 – 1984), generally known as Michel Foucault, was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, social theorist, and literary critic. Foucault’s theories primarily address the relationship between power and knowledge, and how they are used as a form of social control through societal institutions.
This event takes place at:
New York City ( NYC )

Un essai relance la querelle sur Foucault et le néolibéralisme, Entretien avec Daniel Zamora et Mitchell Dean par Mathieu Dejean, Les inrockuptibles, 22 août 2019

Cet article est réservé aux abonnés

Les sociologues Mitchell Dean et Daniel Zamora poursuivent le débat sur Michel Foucault et le néolibéralisme dans un essai critique, “Le dernier homme et la fin de la révolution” (éd. Lux). Ils reviennent sur les dix dernières années de sa vie et de son œuvre, quand dans sa quête d’une “gouvernementalité de gauche”, il s’intéressa à ce courant de pensée.

Au milieu des années 1970, le rêve d’une société sans classe, rendu incandescent par Mai 68 partout dans le monde, a du plomb dans l’aile. Alors que cet idéal s’éloigne, et que les “nouveaux philosophes” passés “du col mao au Rotary” (pour reprendre le titre d’un livre fameux de Guy Hocquenghem) annoncent la fin des utopies, Michel Foucault commence à s’intéresser au néolibéralisme. Cette école de pensée en plein essor sonne chez lui comme une promesse d’autonomie et de marges de liberté plus grandes pour les pratiques minoritaires (sexe, drogues, refus de travailler…). Alors qu’il juge la gauche de tradition marxiste dans l’impasse, son regard se décentre : la question des inégalités n’est plus prioritaire, celle du pouvoir le devient. Dans Le dernier homme et la fin de la révolution. Foucault après Mai 68 (Lux), les sociologues Mitchell Dean et Daniel Zamora examinent méticuleusement ce tournant pour porter un regard critique sur l’héritage politique de Foucault, et relancer le débat sur sa relation à cette école de pensée. Entretien.


How Michel Foucault Got Neoliberalism So Wrong, An Interview With Daniel Zamora. Interview by Kévin Boucaud-Victoire. Translation By Seth Ackerman, Jacobin, 09.06.2019

In the emerging neoliberalism of the 1970s, Michel Foucault saw the promise of a new social order, more open to individual autonomy and experimental ways of living. That’s not how things turned out.

n a new book coming out in English next year from Verso, sociologist Daniel Zamora and philosopher Mitchell Dean retrace Michel Foucault’s post-1968 intellectual journey, in which a flirtation with leftist radicalism gave way to a fascination for neoliberalism.

In this interview with the French website Le Comptoir, Zamora reflects on the intellectual turmoil of 1970s France and how Foucault’s response to it prefigured so much of our political world today.

The self-proclaimed heirs of Foucault are highly diverse; they range from left-libertarians to Chamber of Commerce officials, and include social democrats and the vestiges of the French “second left.” How do we explain this? How do we situate Foucault?

First of all, I think some intellectuals have a questionable habit of imposing their own agenda on certain philosophers. Placing yourself under the authority of some great figure of intellectual life to legitimize your own ideas is a common practice, but it has been pushed to a particularly bizarre degree in the case of Foucault.

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Daniel Zamora : « La résistance chez Foucault ne prend plus vraiment le visage de la lutte des classes »
Par Kévin “L’impertinent” Boucaud-Victoire Le 5 Septembre 2019, Le Comptoir

English translation in Jacobin

Dans « Le dernier homme et la fin de la révolution : Foucault après Mai 68 » (Lux, 2019), co-écrit avec Mitchell Dean, Daniel Zamora revient sur l’analyse de Michel Foucault sur le néolibéralisme, notamment dans ses cours au Collège de France en 1977 et 1979, publiés dans « Naissance de la biopolitique ». Le sociologue était-il un néolibéral de gauche ? Les choses sont un peu plus complexes semble-t-il.

Le Comptoir : Les héritiers auto-proclamés de Foucault sont très divers, ils vont de libertaires de gauche à des cadres du Medef, en passant par des socio-démocrates ou les reliquats de la “deuxième gauche”. Comment l’expliquer ? Comment situer Foucault ?

Daniel Zamora : Je pense qu’il y a tout d’abord le réflexe peu orthodoxe d’un certain nombre d’intellectuels d’adosser au philosophe leur propre agenda politique. Se placer sous l’autorité d’une grande figure de la vie intellectuelle pour légitimer son propos est une pratique courante. Elle a cependant atteint un degré particulièrement délirant dans le cas de Foucault.


Progressive Geographies

Kathryn Medien, ‘Foucault in Tunisia: The encounter with intolerable power‘, The Sociological Review, 2019, (requires subscription)

In September 1966, 10 years after Tunisia officially gained independence from French colonial rule, Michel Foucault took up a three-year secondment, teaching philosophy at the University of Tunis. This article offers an account of the time that Foucault spent in Tunisia, documenting his involvement in the anti-imperial, anti-authoritarian struggles that were taking place, and detailing his organizing against the carceral Tunisian state. Through this account, it is argued that Foucault’s entrance into political activism, and his associated work in developing a new analytic of power, was fundamentally motivated by his encounter with the neocolonial operatives of power that he witnessed and resisted while in Tunisia. In tracing the anti-colonial and anti-imperial struggles taking place concurrent to Foucault’s development of his analytic of power, albeit struggles that are shown to not take…

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Sabina F. Vaccarino Bremner, (2019) Anthropology as critique: Foucault, Kant and the metacritical tradition, British Journal for the History of Philosophy,
DOI: 10.1080/09608788.2019.1650250

While increasing attention has been paid in recent years to the relation between Foucault’s conception of critique and Kant’s, much controversy remains over whether Foucault’s most sustained early engagement with Kant, his dissertation on Kant’s Anthropology, should be read as a wholesale rejection of Kant’s views or as the source of Foucault’s late return to ethics and critique. In this paper, I propose a new reading of the dissertation, considering it alongside 1950s-era archival materials of which I advance the first scholarly appraisal. I argue that Foucault manifests a fundamental ambivalence to Kantian anthropology, rejecting it in theoretical terms while embracing its practical (‘pragmatic’) conception of the subject. Furthermore, I take these texts to collectively evidence Foucault’s attempt to situate himself within the anthropological-critical tradition rather than extricating himself from it. If we interpret Foucault to reject this tradition’s appeal to an essentialized, theoretical conception of subjectivity, what remains of anthropology is its inherent practical reflexivity in structure. Thus, I situate Foucault’s conception of ethics as one’s relation to oneself in continuity with this tradition.

KEYWORDS: Foucault, Kant, anthropology, critique, pragmatic

Michel Foucault et la force des mots,, Phantasia, Volume 8 – 2019
Dirigé par Daniele Lorenzini

Daniele Lorenzini
Foucault et la force des mots : de l’extralinguistique à la subjectivation

Philippe Sabot
Le langage au pouvoir. Foucault, lecteur de Brisset

Emmanuel Salanskis
Une fidélité de Foucault à Nietzsche : le langage comme fil conducteur généalogique

Isabelle Galichon
L’éthopoïétique de l’écriture de soi

Arianna Sforzini
La vérité aux limites du discours : la « performance » politique des cyniques

Audrey Benoit
Assujettissement et subversion dans le langage. Judith Butler et la critique foucaldienne de la souveraineté

Varia : Claire pages
Image ou événement ? Quelques destins français de la psychanalyse

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