Foucault News

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

Ian Leask, ‘”The Happy Limbo of a Non-Identity” (Or: Herculine Barbin’s Possibility)’, Yearbook of the Irish Philosophical Society 2014-15, pp.85-98. [published in 2018]

The treatment of the ‘hermaphrodite’ in Foucault’s work remains ripe for scholarly attention, especially given the insight it provides into the nature and development of his thinking about issues like the construction and policing of ‘normality’, the question of identity, and the role of agency. Accordingly, this paper gives close attention to the two occasions on which Foucault himself gives close attention to the inter-sexed condition: first, the introduction he publishes in 1980 to the story of Herculine Barbin,who,raised as a girl, was forced by authorities and ‘experts’ to live as a man,once she reached adulthood, and who, as a result, was driven to suicide and, secondly, a lecture Foucault gives in 1975, as part of his broader consideration of the genesis of the notion of ‘the Abnormal’,in which he provides fuller empirical details regarding changes in the institutional reception and treatment of inter-sexed people.

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