Foucault News

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

The Biopolitics of Punishment, Derrida and Foucault
Edited by Rick Elmore and Ege Selin Islekel, Northwestern University Press, 2022

This volume marks a new chapter in the long-standing debate between Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault regarding argumentative methods and their political implications. The essays chart the undertheorized dialogue between the two philosophers on questions of life, death, punishment, and power—an untapped point of departure from which we might continue to read the convergence and divergence of their work. What possibilities for political resistance might this dialogue uncover? And how might they relate to contemporary political crises?

With the resurgence of fascism and authoritarianism across the globe, the rise of white supremacist and xenophobic violence, and the continued brutality of state-sanctioned and extrajudicial killings by police, border patrols, and ordinary citizens, there is a pressing need to critically analyze our political present. These essays bring to bear the critical force of Derrida’s and Foucault’s biopolitical thought to practices of mass incarceration, the death penalty, life without parole, immigration and detention, racism and police violence, transphobia, human and animal relations, and the legacies of colonization. At the heart of their biopolitics, the volume shows, lies the desire to deconstruct and resist in the name of a future that is more just and less policed. It is this impulse that makes reading their work together, at this moment, both crucial and worthwhile.


Editors’ Introduction
Part I. Punishment and Sacrifice: Death Penalty and the Penitentiary
1. Biopolitics and the Politics of Sacrifice: Derrida on Life, Life Death, and the Death Penalty – Michael Naas
2. Posthuman and Postanimal Futures or the Possibilities of a Deconstructive Biopolitics – Rick Elmore
3. Blood on Our Minds, Blood On Our Hands – Brad Elliott Stone
4. Foucault and the Biopolitics of the Penitentiary: Death in/by Incarceration – Ege Selin Islekel
Part II. Taking Lives, Letting Die: Biopolitics of Race
5. Making Die or Letting Die: Derrida, Foucault, and the Refugee Crisis – Kelly Oliver
6. Counting Heads: Reason, The Human, and Capital Punishment(s) – María de la Cruz Salvador López
7. From the Will to Race to Hygienic Feminism: Race, State, Habit – Tamsin Kimoto
Part III. Resistance in Action
8. Fearless Lives: Parrhesia in a Biopolitical Frame – Sarah Hansen
9. The Silent Exception: Hunger Striking and Lip-Sewing – Banu Bargu
10. The Etymology of Unity – Janos Toevs

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