Foucault News

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

Philosophy, Language and the Political – Re-evaluating Post-Structuralism

December 10, 2014 – December 12, 2014

School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru UniversityConvention Centre
New Delhi 110067
IndiaFurther info



Main speakers:

Gérard Bensussan
Universite de Strasbourg
Hélène Cixous
University of Paris
Marc Crépon
École Normale Supérieure, Paris
Paul Patton
University of New South Wales

While commemorating this year the death anniversaries of two major philosophers of our times, Michel Foucault (30th) and Jacques Derrida (10th), it is useful for scholars to attempt a reevaluation of the current of thought and academic practice that appeared and flourished in the last four decades of the 20th century, under the label of ‘poststructuralism.’ The trend may be said to have begun with the publication of Gilles Deleuze’s monograph on Nietzsche in 1962. Since then, the decisive philosophical break with the hitherto dominant structuralist current owed itself to other philosophical antecedents in the works of Heidegger, Levinas and Blanchot. Indeed, a sense of the stultification of political thought in Europe both before and immediately after World War II contributed to the emergence of the new philosophical approach. Going beyond the Gramscian and the Althusserian concerns with hegemony and ideology, philosophers resorted, following Nietzsche’s linguistic and genealogical instinct, to a tracing of the discontinuous historical movements of dominant discourses, as well as to an effective critique of their modernising and totalising dimensions. Historically and discursively, fragmentation and multiplicity began to be seen as more real than the totality that many scholars had until then held on to as their major orientation. That totalities could and must open up to infinite multiplicities was one of the main tenets of the poststructuralists. Consequently, in addition to recasting the ‘human sciences,’ they sought to re-envision the aesthetic (especially the literary and the artistic) and the ethical domains, by inducing a much-needed political sensitivity into them. Contextually speaking, for many in India, not the least of the effects of post-structuralism was felt in the forging of postcolonial critiques and movements initiated and pursued by Edward Said, Homi K. Bhabha, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Paul Patton, since the early 1980s. And more recently, it is evident that the field of religious studies, has also been impacted by post-structuralism, in bringing in thoughts on a discourse of God, that seek to undermine the pressure of a political theology with its adversely major role in the makeup of our modernity.

In the proposed conference scheduled to be held at Jawaharlal Nehru University on the 10th, 11thand 12th December, 2014, several reputed scholars from different parts of the world, are expected to participate, highlighting the backgrounds and destinies, and the possible merits and achievements of the post-structuralist philosophical movement, as well as address the diverse criticisms that have been levelled against it.

(Coordinators: Saugata Bhaduri, Saitya Brata Das, Franson Manjali, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, JNU.)

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