Foucault News

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

A Workshop on Foucault’s Historical Method

Tuesday 27 September 2022

Due to a high level of interest, please note the change of venue. Now at:
To be held from 1.00 to 5.00 p.m. in the Seminar Room 201, Level 2, Michie Building (9), University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
G8 on the UQ St Lucia Campus Map brochure

Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities

Foucault’s historical method is often understood to have had two overlapping phases or alternating modalities: an archaeological one and a genealogical one. His accounts of historical “biopower,” of scholarly “ascesis” and of “history of the present” have all stimulated new historical forms of inquiry in several disciplines in the twenty-first century.

We propose to delve beneath the widespread influence of Foucault in historical inquiry to ask what it means to engage with history in a Foucauldian manner.

For example, the notion of a genealogical method is now in widespread use among historians. While Nietzsche often serves in that regard as a philosophical predecessor, that does not in itself provide a circumstantiated account of what “genealogical method” might mean in historical practice. Can we begin to provide one by referring to Foucault’s approach? Is there conversely some possibility of a revival of Foucault’s earlier, “archaeological” method? Or does the logic of Foucault’s thought indeed point beyond either of these programmatic methodologies, as indicated in the less doxastic historical inquiries of Foucault produced in his last years?

We are open broadly to questions relating to Foucault’s engagements with the historical past, for example:

• The status of Foucault’s individual works, such as:
o The Birth of the Clinic, not the most widely read of Foucault’s texts, but one to which some historians have attached particular importance;
o the methodology of Foucault’s Order of Things, and its relation to structuralism and post-structuralism in France;
o Foucault’s most quoted and most sloganised work, the first volume of his History of Sexuality, and its influence in the history and cultural studies of gender and sexuality;
o the recently, posthumously published fourth volume of Foucault’s History of Sexuality, Les Aveux de la chair (Confessions of the Flesh). What can be said about the significance of this volume for its practice of historical method?
• Foucault’s observations about the formation of biomedicine and how they have helped to shape subsequent critical and historical studies of it.
• Historical approaches to understanding Foucault’s ideas themselves as historical artefacts.

There will be a series of short presentations interspersed with discussion.

Presenters will be:
Mark Kelly (Philosophy, Western Sydney)
Alison Downham Moore (Humanities and Communication Arts, Western Sydney)
Lucia Pozzi (IASH and Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, UQ) (tbc)
Andrea Josipovic (IASH)
Cassie Byrnes (Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, UQ)
Karin Sellberg (Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, UQ)
Peter Cryle (IASH)

Afternoon tea will be provided. It will help with our planning if you indicate by email to the following address that you are planning to attend iash.ea@uq.edu.au

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