Colin Gordon, Review Article: The Cambridge Foucault Lexicon, History of the Human Sciences 2016, Vol. 29(3) 91–110
Leonard Lawlor and John Nale (eds) The Cambridge Foucault Lexicon. New York:Cambridge University Press, 2014. 741 pp. £99.99. ISBN: 9780521119214 (hbk)
This big and potentially influential volume is one sign among others of Michel Foucault’s ongoing elevation to classic status within the history of recent thought. The publishers say that the 117 entries in this volume are written by ‘the world’s leading scholars inFoucault’s thought’. Some of the 72 contributors certainly fit that billing. Alongside many established experts, there are also younger scholars whose renown lies, hopefully, in the near future; this mix gives a range of generational perspectives which is to be welcomed.The contributors are comprised overwhelmingly of philosophers working in the USA and Canada, plus a handful from western Europe, and two Australians. Foucault’s creative impact has long extended across a far wider global and intellectual community than is adequately represented here. The mass presence of philosophers doubtless reflects the commercial fact that academic reference works targeted at the university library market generally need a definite primary departmental focus. Nevertheless, it is a pity that a few more contributions have not been provided to this lexicon by some of those academics based in geography,history,politics,criminology,sociology,anthropology or classics who have engaged with, used or tested Foucault in their fields.This might have also diminished a tendency, perhaps compounded by the legacy of a past generation of commentaries focused on Foucault’s earlier books, to produce an overall emphasis which underplays Foucault’s public and political engagements.