Foucault News

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

Marcelo Hoffman The FBI File on Foucault, Viewpoint Magazine, November 8, 2021

Open access

Nearly a decade ago, two Brazilian researchers, Heliana de Barros Conde Rodrigues and Maria Izabel Pitanga, made a remarkable discovery. They requested materials on the French philosopher Michel Foucault from the National Archive of the Ministry of Justice in Brasília and obtained a file on him compiled by an intelligence agency established by the Brazilian dictatorship, the National Intelligence Service (SNI). The file revealed that Foucault’s participation in a protest at a student assembly in São Paulo in 1975 had become the focal point of his surveillance by the SNI. Conde and Pitanga’s discovery left me with an elementary but irrepressible curiosity: did the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States compile a file on Foucault? It did not seem outlandish to think that Foucault would have caught the attention of the FBI. He had visited the United States with great frequency in the 1970s and 1980s. Foucault had also established a reputation as a radical intellectual with a history of militant engagements at the time of his initial visits to the United States. He had thrown his support behind Marxist students in Tunisia who had revolted against the authoritarian regime of Habib Bourguiba in the late 1960s

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