Foucault News

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

Isobel Roele, Articulating Security: The United Nations and Its Infra-Law , (Cambridge University Press, 2022)


Counter-terrorism proliferates, conscripting actors and institutions in a dizzying range of educational, infrastructural, cultural, scientific, legal, and civic endeavours. This monograph draws on Foucault’s work on disciplinary power, especially the figure of infra-law, to analyse the United Nations’ attempts to impose order on the swarm of global counter-terrorism endeavours. Articulating Security describes the organization’s endeavour to join up proliferating initiatives into all-of-government, all-of-society, and all-of-UN composites, which bear long-range resemblance to the disciplinary machines discussed by Foucault. The UN’s success in this regard is patchy compared to that of the disciplinary society identified by Foucault, and takes place on markedly different terms.

The stakes of this monograph lie in teasing out the implications of juridico-political complicity with managerial governance and showing, in particular, how associations between juridical and managerial modes of law give rise to an inarticulate and disarticulating form of infra-law. Reading Foucault’s discussion of infra-droit alongside Freud and Kristeva, the book analyses infra-law as an uncanny form of the juridical and cautions against attempts to redeem the latter by expelling managerialism from the law.

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