Foucault News

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


What would it be to re-sculpt the projects of human life and social government without “freedom” or “liberty”? The terms are decidedly overdetermined, rising (unsurprisingly) during the configurations of the nation state and in the wake of the French Revolution (see accompanying Ngrams). The assumptions and calls for freedom after the 1790s remain caught in the gooey conundrums of those 17th and 18th century white Europeans seeking an end to their “enslavement” to the tyranny of monarchy and wealth. “Freedom” shaped the totems of political existence and social desire and became the obvious rallying cry for 19th century abolitionists and anti-imperialists and 20th century postcolonialists and oppressed identities (feminists, civil rights activists, gay liberation activists).

I think of Foucault’s famous line at the end of “What is Enlightenment?” when he gives readers permission to dissociate critical work from “faith” (la foi)in Enlightenment, and yet…

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