Foucault News

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

Pandemic Education and Viral Politics
By Michael A. Peters, Tina Besley, Routledge, 2020

Book Description
Viral modernity is a concept based upon the nature of viruses, the ancient and critical role they play in evolution and culture, and their basic application to understanding the role of information and forms of bioinformation in the social world. The concept draws a close association between viral biology on the one hand and information science on the other to understand ‘viral’ technologies, conspiracy theories and the nature of post-truth. The COVID-19 pandemic is a major occurrence and momentous tragedy in world history, with millions of infections and many deaths worldwide. It has disrupted society and caused massive unemployment and hardship in the global economy. Michael A. Peters and Tina Besley explore human resilience and the collective response to catastrophe, and the philosophy and literature of pandemics, including ‘love and social distancing in the time of COVID-19’. These essays, a collection from Educational Philosophy and Theory, also explore the politicization of COVID-19, the growth of conspiracy theories, its origins and the ways it became a ‘viral’ narrative in the future of world politics.

Table of Contents
1. Introduction: education, philosophy and viral politics
2. Viral modernity? Epidemics, infodemics, and the ‘bioinformational’ paradigm
3. A viral theory of post-truth
4. On the epistemology of conspiracy
5. Love and social distancing in the time of Covid-19: the philosophy and literature of pandemics
6. The Plague: human resilience and the collective response to catastrophe
7. Philosophy and pandemic in the postdigital era: Foucault, Agamben, Žižek
8. The disorder of things: quarantine unemployment, the decline of neoliberalism, and the Covid-19 crash
9. ‘Reality is an activity of the most august imagination’. When the world stops, it’s not a complete disaster – we can hear the birds sing!
10. The Chinese dream encounters COVID-19 11. Biopolitics, conspiracy and the immuno-state: an evolving global politico-genetic complex


Michael A. Peters is Distinguished Professor of Education at Beijing Normal University and Emeritus Professor at the University of Illinois. He is the Executive Editor of the journal Educational Philosophy and Theory. His interests are in education, philosophy and social policy, and he is the author of over 100 books, including The Chinese Dream: Educating the Future (2019), Wittgenstein, Education and Rationality (2020) and Wittgenstein: Antifoundationalism, Technoscience and Education (2020).

Tina Besley is Distinguished Professor in the Faculty of Education at Beijing Normal University. She is Founding President of the Association for Visual Pedagogies (AVP) and Immediate Past President of the Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia (PESA). She has published over 12 books and many articles and is Deputy Editor of Educational Philosophy and Theory and the Video Journal of Education and Pedagogy, and an Associate Editor for the Beijing International Review of Education. She works closely with Professor Michael A. Peters and with a wide international network of scholars.

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