Foucault News

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

Benabed, F.
Marine heterotopia and odyssean nomadism in Malika Mokeddem’s N’zid (2020) Journal of North African Studies, 25 (1), pp. 100-115.

DOI: 10.1080/13629387.2018.1528151

Malika Mokeddem’s N’zid is a Mediterranean odyssey in which the ship is a heterotopia of emancipation from patriarchal society and dogmatic sedentariness. For Michel Foucault, ‘heterotopia’ is a real place that subverts ‘normalized cultural sites’; the ship is the heterotopia par excellence for being an immense storehouse of imagination and adventure. The autofictional novel N’zid can be read from the lens of blue ecocriticism because the Mediterranean Sea and the ship constitute the protagonist’s place of liminal nomadism between the different spaces of her belonging wherein she abolishes frontier territoriality. When she wakes up in the middle of the sea, she discovers a facial hematoma but cannot remember what happened. It fades away as she pieces together fragments of her memory, learning that she was attacked by terrorists and that her lover disappeared. Sailing and drawing become her tools to nomadise literally and metaphorically, freeing herself from her shackles and become whole again. N’zid is hence a ‘scriptotherapy’ through which writing has a healing function. It is an internal odyssey for psychological reconstruction, whence the meaning of the title in Algerian Arabic: ‘I am born’ and ‘I go on’. The richness of this novel lies in the wealth of literary theories and intertextual references from which Mokeddem draws. © 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Author Keywords
deteriterrorialisation; Heterotopia; nomadism; rhizome; scriptotherapy; third space

Index Keywords
nomadic people, rhizome, territoriality

Millar, E.
Abortion stigma as a social process
(2020) Women’s Studies International Forum, 78, art. no. 102328.

DOI: 10.1016/j.wsif.2019.102328

Open access

‘Abortion stigma’ has become a critical concept in abortion scholarship, activism, policy and broader discourse. The concept of abortion stigma is, however, poorly defined and scholarship tends to use the concept in ways that reaffirm the individual as its source and location. The majority of research frames abortion stigma as a set of values, beliefs and judgements that flow from stigmatisers to the stigmatised, who are then believed to possess a negatively-valued identity. This article reorients abortion stigma scholarship away from Goffman to Foucault, arguing that abortion stigma should be reframed as a classificatory form of power that works through designating relations of difference. Stigma is one of many processes through which abortion is made intelligible and is contingent and contested. This reframing has implications for the type of questions that scholars can and must ask when examining abortion stigma. © 2019 Elsevier Ltd

Author Keywords
Abortion; Identity; Power; Stigma

Index Keywords
abortion, conceptual framework, research, womens status

Progressive Geographies

9781524748036Michel Foucault, Confessions of the Flesh: History of Sexuality Volume IV, translated by Robert Hurley, edited by Frédéric Gros – Penguin January 2021

Long awaited news of the English translation of this text, first published in French in early 2018.

Brought to light at last–the fourth volume in the famous History of Sexuality series by one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century, his final work, which he had completed, but not yet published, upon his death in 1984

Michel Foucault’s philosophy has made an indelible impact on Western thought, and his History of Sexuality series–which traces cultural and intellectual notions of sexuality, arguing that it is profoundly shaped by the power structures applied to it–is one of his most influential works. At the time of his death in 1984, he had completed–but not yet edited or published–the fourth volume, which posits that the origins of totalitarian…

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Aryal, Y.
Affective politics and non-sovereign identity
(2020) Textual Practice, 34 (1), pp. 67-85.

DOI: 10.1080/0950236X.2018.1508059

The paper proposes a new political philosophy of non-sovereign identity based on the model of politics without coercive sovereignty as a source of our political life. It argues that the formation of our identity is not only determined by the existing power relations, but also by our capacity and strategy to work on our own creative self-formation or self-fashioning. The paper combines Michel Foucault’s ethical project of self-fashioning and Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s idea of ‘lines of flight’ together invoking Lauren Berlant’s idea of ‘the political’ in order to observe the constitution of non-sovereign identity beyond and within the given power relations. © 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Author Keywords
Affect; identity; nonsovereign; power; self-fashioning; the political

Margolin, L.
Rogerian Psychotherapy and the Problem of Power: A Foucauldian Interpretation
(2020) Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 60 (1), pp. 130-143.

DOI: 10.1177/0022167816687640

Guided by Foucault’s argument that “knowledge is an ‘invention’ behind which lies something completely different from itself: the play of instincts, impulses, desires, fears, and the will to appropriate,” this study considers the possibility that “nondirectivity” in Rogerian psychotherapy operates as a trope for power. This is partly based on Edwin Kahn’s observation that nondirective therapists may be less mindful of their own fallibility than other therapists, less wary of their capacity to influence clients, and therefore, less prepared to interrogate the ways they might actually be influencing them. Nondirective, client-centered therapists, in short, may be less likely to have doubts about their comments and interventions, and thus more likely to exercise influence. What I show in this study is how Rogers did just this in his famous session with Gloria, how—without telling Gloria about his personal and theoretic biases, without first discussing them with her to see if and how they fit her goals—he continually pushed her to view herself through the lens of those biases. © The Author(s) 2017.

Author Keywords
Carl Rogers; Gloria; Michel Foucault; nondirective psychotherapy; Rogerian psychotherapy

Truth and Knowledge for Michel Foucault, with Ann Stoler
Great Books 31, Think About It | Podcast
Conversations on big ideas and great books hosted by Uli Baer.

Why is everyone talking about Michel Foucault these days? How can Foucault’s work have so many resonances in our contemporary world? What were his insights and discoveries that have influenced disciplines as diverse as cultural studies, gender and queer studies, or post-colonial studies? There is no doubt that Michel Foucault was one of the greatest thinkers of all time. His work —always critical— between philosophy and history, resists easy labels. Some regard him as a historian of knowledge, while others think he is a philosopher. He thought of his own method as genealogy, and I wanted to understand what this means. His celebrated four-volume work History of Sexuality, published between 1978 and 2018 —the final volume posthumously— and his conferences in the Collège de France —among others— are fundamental to understand how concepts such as knowledge, power, gender, sexuality, desire and affect are not neutral but culturally and historically determined.

Our guest today was able to attend some of Foucault’s conferences in Paris. Ann Stoler is Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies at The New School for Social Research in New York City. In this new episode, I talked with Ann about her first encounter with the work of the French philosopher to better understand some key points of his investigations. How can we think of “truth” as something historically and culturally specific, rather than an absolute, unending value. I learned how Foucault’s investigations influenced Ann Stoler’s pathbreaking work on the politics of knowledge, colonial governance, racial epistemologies, the sexual politics of empire, and the ethnography of the archives.

Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, Penser l’après : Sciences, pouvoir et opinions dans l’après Covid-19, The Conversation, May 3, 2020


Michel Foucault souligne le contraste entre ce modèle archaïque de la quarantaine où un pouvoir souverain autoritaire régit depuis un état central la vie des populations, et les dispositifs stratégiques de contrôle diffus de la vie mis en place depuis « le décollage médical et sanitaire de l’Occident » grâce à la médecine scientifique. Or la plupart de ces dispositifs basés sur la science – mesures statistiques des taux de mortalité et de morbidité, hygiène, vaccinations, contrôle des flux migratoires – se retrouvent dans la gestion actuelle de la crise, côte à côte avec des mesures archaïques que l’on croyait depuis longtemps périmées.


Foucault on Liberal Democracy, Historicism and Philosophy
Blake Smith. Tocqueville 21, 9 May 2020

Liberal democracy is an oxymoron. Or rather, it’s a site of confrontation between contradictory discourses, between the universalist aspirations of philosophy and the partisanship of historiography. So insinuates Michel Foucault in the lecture series “Society Must be Defended,” delivered at the Collège de France in the spring of 1976.

This is not the ostensible point of his lectures. Foucault eschews normative claims about the nature of our regime, and insists he has no desire to ask something so naive as a “theoretical question.” Instead he pursues a historical investigation into the ways that armed struggle has been used in the modern West as a metaphor for and within domestic politics. He traces the origin of the war-metaphor from early modern writers through nineteenth and twentieth-century prophets of wars of class and race, with whom he concludes the series. But these were not his real target.

Rather, as Foucault told his audience in the first of the lectures, he wanted to explain the bewildering moral, social and political transformations that had taken place in the liberal democratic West during the 1960s and 70s. Searching for the mechanisms that had made these transformations possible, Foucault develops a provocative account of the genesis and nature of the liberal democratic regime. Our political order, his account implies, is an unhappy marriage of philosophy and historicism.


The city in a time of plague
By PEPE ESCOBAR, Asia Times, APRIL 17, 2020

See also How to think post-Planet Lockdown By PEPE ESCOBAR. Asia Times, APRIL 28, 2020

History teaches us that epidemics are more like revelatory moments than social transformers

The plague-stricken town, traversed throughout with hierarchy, surveillance, observation, writing; the town immobilized by the functioning of an extensive power that bears in a distinct way over all individual bodies – this is the utopia of the perfectly governed city.

– Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish

Predictably eyeing the Decline and Fall of the American Empire, a serious academic debate is raging around the working hypothesis of historian Kyle Harper, according to whom viruses and pandemics – especially the Justinian plague in the 6th century – led to the end of the Roman Empire.

Well, history actually teaches us that epidemics are more like revelatory moments than social transformers.

Patrick Boucheron, a crack historian and a professor at the esteemed College de France, offers a very interesting perspective. Incidentally, before the onset of Covid-19, he was about to start a seminar on the Black Death medieval plague.


Downey, H., Clune, T.
How does the discourse surrounding the Murray Darling Basin manage the concept of entitlement to water?
(2020) Critical Social Policy, 40 (1), pp. 108-129.

DOI: 10.1177/0261018319837206

Globally, the challenges of climate change have resulted in significant water policy reform. Australia’s Murray Darling Basin (MDB) Plan is a complex transboundary water management system that aims to balance the need for environmental protection with the needs of social and economic users of water. In July 2017, media reports argued that some MDB irrigators were misappropriating water destined for the environment and downstream users. This article uses Foucauldian discourse analysis to explore this flashpoint in the long-standing tensions between all stakeholders including the Basin jurisdictions. Diverse understandings of who is entitled to water that are shaped by the historical, political and social context are central to this conflict. Findings suggest that both neoliberal governmentality and the agrarian discourse are threatened by an emerging governmentality that embraces non-farming interests. The broader experience of water scarcity in a rapidly changing climate suggests comparable issues will become evident across the world. © The Author(s) 2019.

Author Keywords
Foucault; governmentality; irrigation farming; transboundary water management; water scarcity

Index Keywords
climate change, environmental protection, governance approach, irrigation, policy reform, resource scarcity, river management, stakeholder, transboundary cooperation, water management, water resource, water supply; Australia, Murray-Darling Basin

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