Foucault News

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

Morales-Ladrón, M. On docile bodies: silence, control and surveillance as self-imposed disciplines in Anna Burns’ Milkman
(2023) Irish Studies Review

DOI: 10.1080/09670882.2023.2198081

Anna Burns, the first Northern-Irish woman to have been awarded the Booker Prize for her novel Milkman in 2018 has been celebrated since then as a lucid and necessary voice in the contemporary panorama. Set in an unknown location in Northern Ireland, at a time when the Troubles were at its peak, the narrative defiantly targets at what appears to be sexual harassment, to further disclose layers of more subtle meanings related to sociopolitical (self-)control and surveillance, in an atmosphere of pathological silence. Informed by Michel Foucault’s theories, developed in his studies Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality, this article explores Burns’ novel in light of Foucault’s model of biopower, defined as a “technology of power centered on life,” within which the panopticon will be revisited. I will contend that silence, consequently, surfaces as both the voluntary alternative and the inevitable consequence of the imposition of regulatory practices on docile bodies, on a disempowered microstructure of inmates that facilitates the success of such technology of power. © 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Author Keywords
Anna Burns; docile bodies; Northern Ireland; panopticon; the Troubles

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