Foucault News

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

Masterclass with Thomas Lemke on biopolitics and materiality

Further details publicity flyer

5 September 2018

CCANESA boardroom, Madsen Building, Eastern Avenue, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

The past two decades have seen a remarkable development in the social sciences and the humanities: the rise of “new materialisms”. Theoretical perspectives and empirical studies that focus on the diverse and plural forms of materiality are replacing or complementing research on social constructions, cultural practices and discursive processes. The “material turn” criticizes the idea of the natural world and technical artifacts as a mere resource or raw material for technological progress, economic production or social construction. It aims at a new understanding of ontology, epistemology, ethics and politics.

In this context, the master class will take up and discuss different understandings of biopolitics that no longer exclusively address human individuals and populations, but attend to the complex associations of humans and nonhumans. It invites to disentangle the notions of matter, ontology, nature and biology as necessarily associated with determinism, essentialism and reductionism, and it challenges political imaginations and critical vocabularies by questioning the idea of nature as solid, stable and static.

Thomas Lemke is Professor of Sociology with a focus on Biotechnologies, Nature and Society at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Goethe- University Frankfurt/Main in Germany and Honorary Professor at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. His research interests include social and political theory, biopolitics, new materialisms, social studies of genetic and reproductive technologies. Lemke has published extensively on the social implications of the life sciences and contributed to the theoretical advancement of social theory and the social studies of biotechnology. He is especially recognized for his readings of Foucault and theoretical contributions to the debates on governmentality and biopolitics. In 2018 he was awarded an Advanced Grant of the European Research Council (ERC) for a research project on the social and cultural impacts of cryobiology.

How to apply
Open to all PhD students and early career researchers working in the humanities, social sciences, and law. To apply email Zsuzsanna Ihar at and Sonja van Wichelen at with your name, affiliation, discipline, research interests and a 200-word statement of interest before July 1, 2018.

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