Foucault News

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

Gordon Hull, Bakhtin’s Carnival, Genealogy, History, New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science, 25 September 2018

Foucault’s use of Nietzsche to make the distinction between history and genealogy in “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History” is well-known.  What is less well-known, I think (perhaps I am projecting again, but I had forgotten this passage until I saw a note I’d made to it the other day), is a very clear presentation of the distinction in Society must be Defended.  Here I want to tentatively suggest some connections between the language of SMD and some of Foucault’s other writings.  The SMD context is a discussion of state historiography and archiving in the 18th Century.  Foucault announces “another new excursus,” and writes:

“The difference between what might be called the history of the sciences and the genealogy of knowledges is that the history of sciences is essentially located on an axis that is, roughly speaking, the cognition-truth axis, or at least the axis that goes from the structure of cognition to the demand for truth. Unlike the history of the sciences, the genealogy of knowledges is located on a different axis, namely the discourse-power axis or, if you like, the discursive practice-clash of power axis” (SMD 178).

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Claire Fanger, Inscription on the Heart: Medieval Monastic Practices for Writing Self in God and God in Self, The Side View, October 2018

Michel Foucault’s 1984 essay, “What is enlightenment?”[1] requires readers to keep in view how epistemology and ontology—knowing and being—converge in the subject. Knowledge is the being of the self; knowledge constitutes the self as a knowable entity. To say of myself “I am a writer” or “I am a medievalist” is to describe who I am by indicating knowledge and knowledge practices that have importantly informed my own view of me. Likewise for someone to say “I am a singer,” or “a licensed mechanic,” or “a monk” is to represent a self through types of expertise, modes of practice suggesting certain possible roles in certain possible communities, certain ideas of virtue. The self is surely more than the sum of its parts, but summing the parts is a way of beginning to think about who or what a self is.

Towards the end of his essay, casting forward a description of “historical ontology” as a potential field of inquiry, Foucault lays out three questions that must be addressed:

How are we constituted as subjects of our own knowledge? How are we constituted as subjects who exercise or submit to power relations? How are we constituted as moral subjects of our own actions? (48)

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Progressive Geographies

Foucault at the Movies.jpg

When Foucault va au cinéma came out in 2011, I immediately got hold of a copy. It was a collection of excerpts from Foucault’s interviews about and discussions of films, prefaced by two new introductory essays by Patrice Maniglier and Dork Zabunyan. The texts by Foucault, though, were all taken from Dits et écrits, and they were not reprinted in whole, only in short excerpts. In the French, 126 pages were taken up by the essays; less than 40 pages of excerpts from Foucault. So, there was no newly rediscovered Foucault, what there was was torn from context, and the introductory essays, while interesting enough, were not especially helpful to my own concerns.

I was pleased to hear that Clare O’Farrell was translating the book for Columbia University Press though, not least because Clare has a long-standing interest in both Foucault and film. She’s the author of the book 

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Legg, S. (2018). Subjects of truth: Resisting governmentality in Foucault’s 1980s. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, First Published September 25, 2018

DOI: 10.1177/0263775818801957

See also Subject to truth: Before and after governmentality in Foucault’s 1970s

Responding to ongoing concerns that Michel Foucault’s influential governmentality analytics fail to enable the study of ‘resistance’, this paper analyses his last two lecture courses on ‘parrhesia’ (risky and courageous speech). While Foucault resisted resistance as an analytical category, he increasingly pointed us towards militant, alternative and insolent forms of counter-conduct. The paper comparatively analyses Foucault’s reading of Plato, Socrates and the Cynics, exploring parrhesia’s episteme (its truth–knowledge relations), techne (its practice and geographies), identities (its souls and its bodies) and its possible relations to the present. It concludes that Foucault viewed resistance as power; power which problematised governmentalities but could also be analysed as a governmentality itself. In pursuing parrhesia, Foucault reaffirmed his commitment to studying discourse as always emplaced and enacted, while sketching out the geographies (from the royal court and the democratic Assembly to the public square and the street) that staged the risk of truth-talking. This suggests new subjects and spaces to open up political possibilities when exploring the geographies of governmentalities.

Keywords Foucault, governmentality, truth, parrhesia, resistance

Progressive Geographies

EF20.jpgIt’s been steady progress in the last part of summer on the manuscript of The Early FoucaultI had a few days in Paris in mid-September, where I did my usual pattern of working in the Richelieu site of the Bibliothèque Nationale when it was open, and then heading to either the Mitterrand site or the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève in the early evening. At the latter two libraries I was able to read and check a number of things I can’t access in London. The Richelieu site houses the Foucault fonds, and for the first time in all my visits here I looked at no new material. Instead I went back over the folders relating to Nietzsche, Histoire de la folie and the early courses from Lille and the ENS. Some of this was to recheck small details, and some to reread material which I am writing about. Although much of…

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Laboratorio “archeologia filosofica” ( is proud to present the new book series directed by Alessandro Baccarin and Paolo Vernaglione Berardi, for Efesto publisher.

The aim of the series is to follow the foucauldian direction of The Archaeology of Knowledge, with the philosophical problematizations elaborated by Enzo Melandri and Giorgio Agamben, along the genealogical research that  intertwines  knowledge, power and subjectivity.

Scientific Committee: Paolo Godani (Univ. Macerata), Gabriele Guerra (Univ “Sapienza” – Roma), Christian Laval (Univ. Paris-Nanterre), Cristina Marras (CNR – Roma), Clare O’Farrell (Qld Univ of Tech (QUT) – Brisbane), Stefano Velotti (Univ “Sapienza” – Roma).

The idea of human nature produces and accompanies different ways of thinking the essence of the human being as a power-knowledge dispositive. Along the ages of the Western civilization, this concept describes the curve of the modern time and generates the permanent ambiguous and concept of “humanity”. Attempting a genealogical search of the typical “will of knowledge”, this book paints a large map of the relationships between philosophical archaeology after Foucault, Melandri and Agamben, and the dissolution of subjectitivy. In this case emerges the perspective of an aesthetic of the existence in which coincides life and form of life.

Paolo Vernaglione Berardi, insegnante di filosofia e storia, è autore di saggi e testi tra cui: Il sovrano l’altro, la storia (Roma, 2008), Dopo l’umanesimo. Sfera pubblica e natura umana (Macerata 2010), Filosofia del comune (Roma, 2014), Michel Foucault: genealogie del presente ( a cura di, Roma 2015), Scritti su Walter Benjamin (a cura di, Roma 2016). Ha fondato il Laboratorio “archeologia filosofica” (

Nel grande naufragio della letteratura greco-romana uno spazio particolare, sebbene del tutto misconosciuto, occupa la manualistica erotica. L’autorialità che rese celebre questo genere era composta per lo più da figure femminili, donne come Filenide di Samo, la più antica autrice di un  manuale erotico greco, o l’egiziana Elefantide, autrice amata dall’imperatore Tiberio. Autrici la cui dimestichezza con la filosofia rendeva possibile scrivere un manuale di “comportamento” sessuale o erotico e ironizzare, proprio attraverso il testo, con le principali correnti filosofiche antiche.

Il recupero della dimensione espositiva dell’erotismo, consente l’individuazione dell’emergenza non solo del soggetto di desiderio, ma anche l’impostazione di un lavoro archeologico-filosofico su quella sfera del desiderio che, a partire dal dispositivo di sessualità, per dirla con Michel Foucault, la modernità ha assegnato d’autorità alla psichiatria e allo psichismo del soggetto.

Alessandro Baccarin vive e lavora a Roma. I suoi campi di studio interessano la storia e la filosofia antica, l’arte erotica e la sessualità nel mondo antico. Si è interessato anche di studi di genere e del pensiero di Michel Foucault (vedi Il sottile discrimine. I corpi tra dominio e tecnica del sé, Verona, OmbreCorte 2014). Si è interessato alla ricezione del pensiero del filosofo francese presso il mondo degli antichisti (vedi L’esploratore e l’intruso. Le scienze dell’antinchità di fronte a Michel Foucault, «Rationes Rerum», 5, 1, 2015, 217-242) e i suoi studi sulla dimensione “pre-sessuale” del mondo antico, con particolare attenzione alla produzione letteraria e artistica di carattere erotico dell’antichità greco-romana, compaiono in numerose riviste scientifiche.

Elliott, B.
Work, culture, and play in the neoliberal condition
(2018) Information Communication and Society, 21 (9), pp. 1279-1292.

DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2018.1476568

Foucault’s [2008. The birth of biopolitics: Lectures at the collège de France 1978–1979. New York, NY: Picador] lectures on neoliberalism present a powerful challenge to the Marxist critique of capitalist work as alienating and dehumanizing. Foucault suggests that neoliberalism allows work to be seen in terms of an individual’s pursuit of personal happiness. Seminal cultural theory in Hoggart [1957/2009. The uses of literary: Aspects of working-class life. London: Penguin] and Williams [1961. The long revolution. London: Chatto & Windus] view working-class culture as a matter of tacit rules and a ‘structure of feeling’ that permeates everyday life. Adorno’s critique of the capitalist ‘culture industry’, by contrast, suggests that a culture of neoliberal capitalism would be an oxymoron. This perspective is self-defeating, I argue, as we then essentially give up the task of understanding how neoliberalism translated into a pervasive social psychology. Following Richard Sennett’s [2008. The craftsman. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press; 2012. Together. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press] work on craft and cooperation, I examine some elements of such neoliberal culture. Across many contemporary cities, there is a clear trend of local small-scale production that stands at odds with the aesthetics if not the underlying reality of the globalized economy. This suggests that utopian counter-currents to neoliberal governance are better drawn from reconfiguration rather than abandonment of work. © 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Author Keywords
culture; Foucault; Neoliberalism; play; Sennett; work

Progressive Geographies

Canguilhem cover.jpegI’m pleased to share the cover design of my forthcoming book Canguilhem(Polity, 2019).

It’s part of the Key Contemporary Thinkers series and is available to preorder from Wiley in ebook, paperback and hardcover. The book is due for publication in February in the UK, and April in the rest of the world. The proofs are on my desk, and this schedule fits with my previous experience with Polity.

Here are the generous endorsements, description and table of contents:

‘The patience, clarity, and erudition we expect of Stuart Elden’s books are on full display in this exceptional work. More than a simple Introduction, Canguilhem enables readers to see the outlines, stakes, and details of the works of an important thinker.’
John Protevi, Louisiana State University

‘This impressive and meticulously researched volume which includes a wealth of references to archival material provides the first comprehensive introduction in English to a figure…

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Gandy, O.H., Jr., Nemorin, S.
Toward a political economy of nudge: smart city variations
(2018) Information Communication and Society, pp. 1-15. Article in Press.

DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2018.1477969

Transformations in strategies of governmentality have been implemented around the globe through behavioral interventions characterized as ‘nudges.’ This article will focus on the implementation of these practices within geopolitical areas referred to as ‘smart cities.’ Specifically, the article will examine the impacts of technological developments on neuroeconomics and behavioral economics as foundational contributions to smarty city governance. Given the resonance between several areas of governmentality explored by Foucault in the 1970s, and by an increasing number of theorists of late, this article sets out a program of research and policy analysis organized by a political economy of communications framework. As such, smart city governance will be identified and assessed in terms of the processes of commodification, spatialization, and structuration. Important concerns emerging from our assessment of the nudge as a governmental policy tool are the implications that this and related approaches to management of populations have for direct and indirect surveillance of people, places, and things. Information and communication technology is expected to play a central role here via its extension of surveillance through multidimensional analysis of massive transaction-generated-information, environmental and personal sensing, and what we have come to refer to as the big data that enable management by code from afar. The implications of these processes for groups within society, especially those already disadvantaged by poverty, segregation, and disregard, will be described and illustrated with examples from around the globe. The article will conclude with an articulation of public policy concerns, including those related to privacy and surveillance. © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Author Keywords
discrimination; Political economy; privacy; smart city

Valentim, I.V.L.
Between Academic Pimping and Moral Harassment in Higher Education: an Autoethnography in a Brazilian Public University
(2018) Journal of Academic Ethics, 16 (2), pp. 151-171.

DOI: 10.1007/s10805-018-9300-y

It is shocking to notice that universities still research few of what daily happens inside their walls. Even though knowledge amount to just a small part of the numerous things that are produced in/between academic relations, it is rare to find investigations in which academic modus operandi is the research focus. The text relies on references like Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari to investigate the subjectivities produced in Academia’s daily routines. With attention to experiences, to what many times is naturalized and said only in the corridors and behind the scenes, this paper uses autoethnography as its method with the aim of analysing academic relations in the context of a Brazilian public university. The narratives constructed here are traversed by songs, lived situations, and affectations. Stories that deal with trajectories of a professor since his arrival at a new workplace. E-mails, threats, exoneration. What is considered to be normal in Academia? What still shocks and affect us? The paper draws on concepts like moral harassment and academic pimping to guide the written narratives and to deepen analyses built throughout the paper. How is it possible to de-naturalize what we daily do in universities? Without predefined or definite answers, the text questions the ways how we relate to each other in Academia and stimulates reflections on the impacts of our academic relations, not only to work itself, but also to the lives of the involved ones. © 2018, Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature.

Author Keywords
Academia; Autoethnography; Bullying; Higher education; Moral harassment; Teachers’ work