Foucault News

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

Agustín Colombo, Edward Mcgushin and Geoff Pfeifer (eds.) The Politics of Desire. Foucault, Deleuze, and Psychoanalysis, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2022

In his preface to Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, Michel Foucault notes that in the late sixties, there is a turn away from Freud anda movement toward what he calls an “experience and technology of desire that is no longer Freudian”. Foucault, Deleuze, and Guattari were interested in, and engaged with this shift and their collective work in these areas spawned a larger post-Freudian literature.

This book gathers contributions from international scholars with the aim of exploring the social, political, and philosophical dimension of Deleuze and Guattari’s, and Foucault’s critical encounters with psychoanalytic thought: Their possible connections, their divergences, the fields of reflection that these encounters open, and the problems and debates that led Foucault and Deleuze and Guattari to engage with psychoanalysis in the ways that they did. In doing so, the main goal of the book is not to engage in a critique of the discipline of Psychoanalysis as such, but to investigate how Foucault’s and Deleuze’s critique of Psychoanalysis gives rise to a political reflection that draws on some of Psychoanalysis key notions. Among these, the concept of Desire is central as it allows us to grasp the different ways in which Foucault and Deleuze politically engage with Psychoanalysis: for Deleuze, Desire is the element through which Revolution becomes possible, whereas for Foucault Desire is a cornerstone of the modern mechanisms of subjection.

Drawing both on new material like Confessions of the Flesh, the 4th volume of Foucault’s History of Sexuality and on Foucault and Deleuze’s main work, the book covers a variety of topics including the contrast between Foucault’s and Deleuze political understanding of desire and pleasure; the genealogy of desire as a way to investigate the historical shaping of psychoanalysis; the relationship between psychoanalysis and the normalizing mechanisms of power (e.g. biopolitics and disciplinary regimes); the ways in which psychoanalysis and neoliberalism come together in particular moments, the status and role of desire in revolt, resistance, and transformation; Foucault and Deleuze’s different approaches to the unconscious; the role of desire in the formation of identity; etc. In the 50th anniversary of Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, one of the major references that inspires the many chapters in this book, we aim to pay homage to these two important figures of contemporary thought by enriching and opening new lines of thought and problematization of the political reflection on Desire that Foucault and Deleuze developed.

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