Foucault News

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

Graham, Helen (2012). “Scaling governmentality: Museums, co-production and re-calibrations of the ‘logic of culture'”. Cultural studies, 26 (4), pp. 565-92.

This article explores contemporary uses of museum co-production for public policy through a sustained theoretical engagement with Tony Bennett’s work on museums as an ‘object of government’. The specific focus is a theoretical discussion of the ‘logic of culture’ as it relates to new UK policy uses of participants’ ‘experience’ as the desired site of authenticity at the very same time as the process of expressing this authenticity is located as a site for reform. It is argued that Bennett mobilizes two techniques of scale (fixing the analytic lens of governmentality and drawing on a strong scalar correspondence of power) in order to secure a relatively disciplinary reading of governmentality and to foreclose the resistant possibilities of cultural politics. Drawing on the differences between practices associated in UK museums with ‘access’ (which works through the dis-intensification of the difference between the museum and everyday life) and with ‘social impact’ (which requires a re-intensification of this difference in order to increase the visibility of effect), this article concludes by countering Bennett’s more disciplinary uses of Foucault with the Foucault of ‘The Subject and Power’. It is argued that the ‘logic of culture’ can be calibrated to varying intensities in considering the coming-into-relationship between the museums and those-to-be-involved. It is specifically argued – following Foucault’s spatializaton of ‘thought’ as distance (limit-attitude) and ‘counter-conduct’ as proximity – that the ‘logic of culture’ might be actively re-calibrated to use the spatialized dynamic of distance and proximity to create spaces which might allow the museum and its associated policy – not just those involved – to be affected by the co-production encounter.

Author Keywords:
museums; governmentality; Cultural Studies; cultural policy; co-production; community engagement

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