After a hiatus of more than two years due to COVID restrictions and other factors, we hope to meet all of you again at a live event on November 29th from 15.00-17.30 at the University of Amsterdam, with two keynote presentations followed by an annual meeting in which plans, projects and organizational matters can be briefly discussed.
We hope to welcome you all in Amsterdam!
On behalf of the equipe Foucault Circle NL/BE
Karen Vintges / Michiel Leezenberg / Guilel Treiber / Casper Verstegen
Annual Meeting Foucault Circle NL/BE
Universiteit van Amsterdam, Oudemanhuispoort, room A0.08, 15.00 – 17.15
15.00 – 15.30 Guilel Treiber, What Fish in What Water? Foucault, Neoliberalism, and the Future of the Left
15.30 – 16.30 Dianna Taylor, Feminist Counter-violence as Counter-conduct?
16.30 – 17.15 Annual Meeting
Guilel Treiber is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven. He teaches the history of philosophy and political theory in Amsterdam and Groningen and is the author of numerous articles emphasizing the radicality of Foucault’s political theory.
To the question can we criticize Foucault, we must respond with a resounding yes. Foucault is not a saint, and even saints should be criticized. Yet when we criticize him, it should be on firmer grounds than biographical conjectures and fallacious logical inferences. Some of Zamora and Dean’s critique of Foucault’s impact on the Left can be summed up as such. Yet when their critical account does work, they can be said to apply to Foucault the same reproach he applied to Marx in The Order of Things. There is nothing in Foucault’s work that can challenge neoliberalism. Foucault is like a fish in its entrepreneurial waters, he cannot be used to criticize it. His work is a product of what led to its rise and ended up nourishing it.
This more serious challenge seems to rest on a few mistaken moves which, if Foucault’s work is used correctly, could have been avoided while still criticizing him. Firstly, the reduction of govermentalities and powers to one overarching, hegemonic governmentality. Secondly, the assumption that limit experience has no emancipatory potential, let alone a collective one. Thirdly, the mixing up of the theological and the political. Fourthly, the minimization of the causes that led to the collapse of the ‘old’ left and a disregard to the massive emancipation of underrepresented communities since the 70s. Lastly, a reduction of the work to the vagueries of an individual existence. In this paper, I will demonstrate how one can criticize Foucault and show that instead of essentializing a rift in the Left by pitting Foucault against Marx, it would be better to work to construct a synthesis of Foucault and Marx.
Dianna Taylor is Professor of Philosophy at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. She was Coordinator of the U.S. Foucault Circle from 2010-2016. Taylor is co-editor (with Karen Vintges) of Feminism and the Final Foucault (2004), editor of Foucault: Key Concepts (2014), and author of Sexual Violence and Humiliation: A Foucauldian-Feminist Perspective (Routledge 2020)
On 24 June, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Dobbs decision eradicated abortion as a constitutional right in the U.S., a right which had been established in Roe v. Wade (1973) and reasserted in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992). The fact that Dobbs is the law of the land lends new significance to a question many feminists have been asking for a long time: can a legal system that is both grounded in and reasserts oppressive gendered relations of power ultimately provide conditions for the possibility of women’s freedom?
Increasingly, U.S. feminists are saying it cannot. They are therefore exploring extra-legal and more broadly non-institutionalized strategies and practices for countering current configurations of gender oppression. These feminist strategies and practices of resistance can be considered a form of what Foucault refers to as “counter-conduct.” Feminists have traditionally refrained from using violence, itself an embodied practice, to counter women’s oppression on the grounds that violence is merely a tool of oppressors. Judith Butler’s 2020 book, The Force of Non-violence, largely reflects this stance. Yet Butler still acknowledges that counter-violence may be needed to bring down oppressive regimes. Is normative gender an oppressive regime? If so, in what specific situations might counter-violence function as a form of feminist counter-conduct rather than merely reproducing the same oppressive conditions it seeks to combat? And what does a specifically feminist form of counter-violence look like?