Foucault News

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

Ashe, Leah M. (2018). “He, she, we, they, and it: The subjects of food and torture.” Presentation at the International Conference on Food History and Cultures, Institut Européen D’Histoire et des Cultures de L’Alimentation (IEHCA), Tours, France, 7-8 June 2018.

Text available at


Patrick Gamez, Did Foucault do Ethics? The “Ethical Turn,” Neoliberalism, and the Problem of Truth, Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy – Revue de la philosophie française et de langue française, Vol XXVI, No 1 (2018) pp 107-133

DOI 10.5195/jffp.2018.818

Open access

This paper argues against a common misunderstanding of Foucault’s work. Even after the release of his lectures at the Collège de France, which ran throughout the 1970s until his death in 1984, he is still often taken to have made an “ethical” turn toward the end of his life. As opposed to his genealogies of power published in the 1970s, which are relentlessly suspicious of claims of individual agency, his final monographs focus on the ethical self-formation of free individuals. I suggest that this basic misinterpretation makes possible interpretations of Foucault’s work as being sympathetic to neoliberal government, by linking the ethical turn to a “liberal” or “neoliberal” turn in his thought. I present a case against the ethical turn by arguing that Foucault’s main focus, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, is a concern for the ways in which we become obligated by truth.

veridiction; governmentality; biopolitics; Foucault; ethics; truth; neoliberalism

Gormley, K.
Neoliberalism and the discursive construction of ‘creativity’
(2018) Critical Studies in Education, pp. 1-16. Article in Press.

DOI: 10.1080/17508487.2018.1459762

This paper resists normative definitions of ‘creativity’ to argue that the concept is constructed by neoliberal discourses in education policy. The analysis is firstly centred on the Australian context, and this is further informed and complimented by a global perspective. Focusing on two pivotal policies, The Melbourne Declaration of Educational Goals for Young Australians and PISA 2012 Results: Creative Problem Solving, the paper argues that universal versions of creativity, such as those that align the concept with problem-solving or design endeavour, are a product of market logic. Using Foucault’s concept of homo economius, it traces how creativity is subsumed into discourses of workplace readiness and rapidly changing environments, and proceeds to identify how select and partial discourses of the concept, such as creativity as instrumental and determinable are supported, while there is a silence around alternative conceptualisations. The paper concludes with a discussion on how the discursive positioning of creativity by neoliberal themes and formations brings about real effects: certain work practices are valued more than others and particular student and teacher subjectivities are endorsed or demoted ‘in the name of’ creativity. © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Author Keywords
Creativity; Foucault; homo economicus; knowledge; neoliberalism; policy; power

McGlashan, H., Fitzpatrick, K.
‘I use any pronouns, and I’m questioning everything else’: transgender youth and the issue of gender pronouns
(2018) Sex Education, pp. 1-14. Article in Press.

DOI: 10.1080/14681811.2017.1419949

The nature of sex/ualities, genders and schooling has changed considerably over the last 20 years, with global political, social and cultural shifts bringing the lives of queer youth to the fore. Trans youth are now more visible and various kinds of support groups in schools (such as diversity support groups, queer groups and gay–straight alliances) have emerged. This article reports on a critical ethnographic study conducted with queer youth in a co-educational secondary school in Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand. The focus of the research was on exploring how LGBTQ students actively negotiate their identities in school. A particular issue of interest was how gendered pronouns (s/he, him, her) are used (both in and outside of schools). We consider how the naming of pronouns both disrupts the articulation between sex, gender and sexuality and also reinforces stable gender identities and binaries. This opens up new possibilities for the trans students to identify but also works to reinforce hierarchies and power relations. We employ the theoretical tools of Foucault (power and resistance) and Butler (the heterosexual matrix, intelligible subjects and performativity) to conceptualise and interpret the power relations evident in trans students’ experiences of using gender pronouns. © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Author Keywords
gay–straight alliance; gender; New Zealand; pronouns; sexuality; Transgender

Index Keywords
adult, article, female, gender identity, heterosexuality, high school, human, juvenile, male, New Zealand, student, support group, theoretical study, transgender

The Quietus | Features | Craft/Work | Into The Voids: Traversing The Work Of Raymond Depardon, December 2017

Editor’s note: old news


At the Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson in Paris, Adam Scovell explores one of the most important European post-war photographers still working today.

Depardon captures institutes with a rare eye; the faces he captures already showing the signs of a different sort of capture beyond language. Throughout the exhibition, the words of Michel Foucault repeatedly came to mind. He writes aptly of the act of exercise itself that it is “the technique by which one imposes on the body tasks that are both repetitive and different, but always graduated. By bending behaviour towards a terminal state, exercise makes possible a perpetual characterization of the individual…”. With the difference taken away, what does this exercise become?

The photo is one of the most disturbing of his images because of how constrained this flexing of individual character is; the route always defined and shared, the mind now locked doubly into both the physical behaviour and the unchanging scenario around the man. Considering in hindsight the pleasure this small task probably produced away from the man’s cramped cell grounds the viewer further in a stark realisation.

One of Foucault’s most famous dictums comes from the same volume as that quote, Discipline and Punish (1975), where he writes that “Surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action.” The idea being that the main role of surveillance is change of behaviour rather than documentation for social safety. I repeatedly thought of Depardon’s eye, a different form of surveillance – momentary, desiring to capture behaviour rather than to dictate it – travelling around the globe to apprehend those trapped in what can only be described as an array of stases.

BBC – Culture – Magritte and the subversive power of his pipe By Cath Pound, 5 December 2017

Editor’s note: old news

René Magritte’s The Treachery of Images (This is Not a Pipe) is one of the most famous yet persistently enigmatic works in the history of art. One of the word-image series of paintings in which the Belgian artist sought to challenge linguistic and visual conventions, it was also part of his life-long quest to show that images could be equal to words in the expression of consciousness.

The iconic painting is returning to its country of origin for the first time in 45 years as part of a major exhibition at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium examining Magritte’s influence on contemporary artists from Jasper Johns to Gavin Turk, giving us a fresh opportunity to attempt to define the indefinable.


In his famous essay on The Treachery of Images, the philosopher Michel Foucault refers to the artwork as an “unravelled calligram”, a calligram being an image formed of the words which describe it, which Magritte had “unravelled” by separating the image from the text.

Although Magritte disagreed with this definition, he certainly believed that an image was as capable of expressing thought as poetry. As Draguet says, for Magritte poetry was “beyond the word; something deeper than the word”.

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Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education: Marc Spooner and James McNinch write about their new edited book – Social Theory Applied, 22 May 2018


Marc Spooner and James McNinch write about their new edited book: Spooner & McNinch (2018) Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education(

It is an exciting time of possibility as research approaches continue to be contested, disrupted, and broadened to include a wide variety of promising departures from orthodoxy. What has been labelled, in various instances, posthumanism, new materialism, the ontological turn, the affective turn, and/or post-qualitative research join ongoing developments in community-engagedparticipatory, decolonizing, place-based, and Indigenous research approaches.

Yet, just as these enticing possibilities invite us to expand our research in ways unimagined just a decade ago, a parallel counterbalancing shift towards a ubiquitous neoliberal and accountability-focused culture – both in the academy and in society – imperils these promising developments. As audit culture and governmentality spread, they give rise to a new managerialism set on measuring us against rigid conceptions of research and impact, regardless of how inappropriate, unethical, or deleterious such constricting measures may be to ourselves and our communities.  Ultimately, at stake, is the very notion of what can be considered knowledge itself.

Foucault fiches de lecture
ANR project: Foucault’s Reading Notes

Transcrire les fiches de lecture de Michel Foucault avec le logiciel Transkribus : compte rendu des tests

Une collaboration internationale avec le projet européen READ/Transkribus a été mise en oeuvre pour la transcription automatique des manuscrits de fiches de lecture. Transkribus est un logiciel de reconnaissance automatique de l’écriture manuscrite, accompagné d’une plateforme de transcription d’images numérisées de manuscrits et d’un OCR classique.

Présentation du projet

À propos

Le projet Foucault Fiches de Lecture (FFL) a pour but d’explorer et de mettre à disposition en ligne un large ensemble de fiches de lecture de Michel Foucault (1926-1984) conservées à la BnF depuis 2013. Ce corpus de plusieurs milliers de feuillets contient une collection considérable de citations et de références, organisées et commentées par Foucault pour la préparation de ses livres et de ses cours. Il ne s’agira pas seulement de rendre accessibles les sources du philosophe, mais de contribuer à l’élaboration d’une herméneutique philosophique, reposant sur l’analyse des pratiques documentaires et des styles de travail de Foucault. Ce carnet de recherche, véritable carnet de route du projet, souhaiterait informer la communauté scientifique et plus largement le public de l’avancée des travaux (numérisation, transcription, prototype, etc.) et du développement d’une plateforme dédiée. Ce projet financé par l’ANR (2017-2020) et coordonné par Michel Senellart, professeur de philosophie à l’ENS Lyon, bénéficie des partenariats de l’ENS/PSL et de la BnF.


Review by Nicholas Till,  Times Higher Education.

Olivia Bloechl, Opera and the Political Imaginary in Old Regime France
University of Chicago Press,
272pp, £41.50ISBN 9780226522753Published 10 April 2018


Bloechl turns to writers such as Michel Foucault, Judith Butler and Agamben, who have all theorised the ways in which power operates not only through the exercise of violence – actual or threatened – and reward, but also in the micro-regimes of a culture that becomes naturalised and internalised in the subject.

Obligatory displays of ritualised grief at the passing of public figures are re-enacted in the scenes of choral lament in tragédie lyrique. The passivity of the subject in the face of power is replicated in the lack of agency of the chorus.

Foucault’s self-disciplinary regime of the “confessing society” is conveyed through the ubiquity of self-punishing confessions in French opera, in which there is a transition from an externally imposed sense of moral obligation in the 17th century to an internalised mode that is represented by the advent of the “tormenting orchestra” in 18th-century operas. Bloechl also demonstrates that in the near century of tragédie ­lyrique’s ascendancy, power in the ancien régime shifted from the personal absolutism of Louis XIV to the more remote rulership of his great-grandson Louis XV. This is conveyed in dramatic narratives in which it is not the god or ruler who exercises authority or justice, but a mediating representative. And Pluto’s underworld? It resembles “nothing so much as an absolutist monarchical state”, founded on the principle of the precarity of the subject under the permanent threat of death.

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