Foucault News

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

Michele Spanò, Towards a juridical archaeology of primitive accumulation. A reading of Foucault’s Penal Theories and Institutions, Radical Philosophy, 2, 11, December 2021
Translated by Alberto Toscano

Open access

The virtual dimensions of a project
The implicit diptych formed by the two successive courses delivered by Michel Foucault at the Collège de France between 1971 and 1973 – Penal Theories and Institutions and The Punitive Society – has already been the object of substantial commentary. The principal gains arising from philological or speculative soundings of these courses can be easily placed under two very general rubrics: first, the relation – never so explicit nor seemingly so benevolent – that Foucault entertained with categories drawn from the Marxian workshop; second, the function – never as central but no less ambiguous for that – that he assigns to law. Two rubrics that seem to flaunt a decisively anti-Foucauldian character, if the run-of-the-mill and vague understanding of his genealogical project generally connects a description of power relations irreducible to relations of production, on the one hand, with a visceral and obsessive critique of the ‘juridical’ form of power itself, on the other.

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