Foucault News

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

allen Amy Allen, The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy, and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory, Columbia University Press, 2007.

This has just been newly published in paperback.

Publisher’s page

  • Draws on the work of Michel Foucault, Jurgen Habermas, Judith Butler, Seyla Benhabib, and others
  •    The book is both an analysis of power and an account of autonomy
  • Up to now, most critical theorists have assumed that these two aspects of the politics of the self are incompatible with one another
  • develops a theoretical framework that illuminates how the self can both be constituted by power and at the same time capable of being autonomously self-constituting.

Some theorists understand the self as constituted by power relations, while others insist upon the self’s autonomous capacities for critical reflection and deliberate self-transformation. All too often, these understandings of the self are assumed to be incompatible. Amy Allen, however, argues that the capacity for autonomy is rooted in the very power relations that constitute the self. Her theoretical framework illuminates both aspects of what she calls, following Foucault, the “politics of our selves.” It analyzes power in all its depth and complexity, including the complicated phenomenon of subjection, without giving up on the ideal of autonomy. Drawing on original and critical readings of a diverse group of theorists, Allen shows how the self can be both constituted by power and capable of an autonomous self-constitution.

“Persuasive and well-reasoned”—J. Jeremy Wisnewski, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

“This admirable book provides incredibly clear and lucid readings of texts that students find notoriously difficult . . . Highly recommended.”—Choice

“Nuanced and careful readings of Foucault, Butler, Habermas and Benhabib.”
—Margaret A. McLaren, Foucault Studies

“A pathbreaking and elegantly argued book.”—Jana Sawicki, PhiloSOPHIA

““[A] tour de force. . . . The Politics of Our Selves forces its reader to think hard, and honestly to think through the implications of the glib stand-off between Foucault and Habermas that stands in for a much more meaningful dialogue that we rarely get to have.”—Cressida Heyes, Philosophy and Social Criticism

Amy Allen is the Parents Distinguished Research Professor in the Humanities and professor of philosophy and women’s and gender studies at Dartmouth College. She is also the author of The Power of Feminist Theory: Domination, Resistance, Solidarity.

2 thoughts on “The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy, and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory (2013)

  1. stuartelden says:

    Reblogged this on Progressive Geographies and commented:
    An important book now in paperback.

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