Foucault News

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

Stephen Reicher, God save the Queue: how the wait to see the Queen’s coffin transformed people, The Conversation, Tue 20 Sep 2022

strange thing has happened since last week, when I wrote about how myself and other social psychologists were studying the crowds of people queueing to watch the ceremonials following the death of Queen Elizabeth – finding out the many reasons and motivations for taking part in this mass event. It seems the Queue itself – and what it supposedly tells us about the state of our nation – has become as big a story as the ceremonies. We stopped watching the pageantry and started watching ourselves watching the pageants.

Most of the discussion of the response to the Queen’s death has focused simply on what it tells us about ourselves as a society. But that is to miss the importance of how these events actively change people. We do not come out of the last 10 days as we went in. But that is the whole point of such ceremonials. They are technologies for engineering souls. And by investigating them, we gain crucial insights into how that process works.

Stephen Reicher is a professor of psychology at the University of St Andrews, a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and an authority on crowd psychology

Jackson, B.
Putting Neoliberalism in Its Place
(2022) Modern Intellectual History, 19 (3), pp. 982-995.

DOI: 10.1017/S1479244321000032

Neoliberalism is an ideal subject for intellectual historians. It is an ideological movement that has been both theoretically sophisticated and influential, ensuring that excursions along the highways and byways of neoliberal thought can always be justified practically, as disclosing the ideas that have shaped contemporary politics. There is also no shortage of source material, as the voluble characters who generated neoliberal ideology wrote innumerable books and articles and left behind extensive archival collections that preserve their correspondence, drafts and records of meetings.

Furthermore, there is abundant evidence of the collaboration (and tensions) between the key neoliberal thinkers, since they worked together in their long years in the wilderness as members of the Mont Pèlerin Society (MPS), the invitation-only discussion group formed by Friedrich Hayek in 1947 to restate the case for market liberalism, and with various associated think tanks scattered across the globe. Given all this, it is surprising that more historical research hadn’t focused on neoliberalism earlier, but the field was largely left clear for philosophers and social scientists until the 2000s. Much of this work was in any case historicist in character, notably the influential lectures of Michel Foucault, delivered in 1979 but only published in French in 2004 and in English in 2008, which scrutinized certain key texts of neoliberal theory some time before other scholars had focused on them.

The years around the 2008-9 financial crisis-by a mixture of accident and design- marked the point at which intellectual historians (and social scientists with an interest in the history of ideas) followed Foucault by diving more systematically into tracing the origins and trajectory of neoliberal thought. Much of this research has concentrated on the MPS, although the MPS itself is probably best understood as a useful entry point for exploring several distinct strands of market liberalism that emerged in different places in the 1930s and 1940s before being woven together into a broader transnational movement of ideas in the course of the 1950s and 1960s. In spite of skeptical voices claiming either that neoliberalism does not exist, or that if it does exist it is best analyzed as the assertion of class interests rather than as an ideology, this work has cumulatively demonstrated that tracing the history of neoliberal thought is an indispensable exercise if we are to understand how we have reached the present conjuncture.

Maynard, Steven. “Queer Parrhesiast.” PUBLIC: Art/Culture/Ideas, 65 (2022): 120-161.

Drawing on and contextualizing the papers of Alexander Wilson (1953-1993), a Toronto-based writer, activist, and horticulturalist, this article explores the reciprocal relationship between Wilson’s intellectual and political work. It focuses on Wilson’s involvement with The Body Politic during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and highlights Wilson’s role in interviewing Michel Foucault in Toronto in 1982. Encompassing feminism, socialism, and environmentalism as part of a critique of narrow notions of ‘gay’ identity and aesthetics, Wilson’s project, it is suggested, prefigured the emergence of queer politics. At the same time, Wilson enacted a queer parrhesia in keeping with Foucault’s Toronto lectures on “speaking the truth about oneself.” The article includes a reproduction of the marked-up manuscript of Wilson and Bob Gallagher’s interview with Foucault, which was found among Wilson’s papers. The well-known interview, “Sex, Power, and the Politics of Identity,” appeared in The Advocate in August of 1984.

AIDS crisis; Alexander Wilson; Michel Foucault; The Body Politic; environmentalism; feminism; parrhesia; queer archive; socialism

Genealogy. Advisory Editor: Daniele Lorenzini
The Monist, Volume 105, Issue 4, October 2022


Genealogy, Evaluation, and Engineering
Matthieu Queloz
Genealogy as Meditation and Adaptation with the Han Feizi
Lee Wilson
Dripping with Blood and Dirt from Head to Toe: Marx’s Genealogy of Capitalism in Capital, Volume 1
Amy Allen
Psychology, Physiology, Medicine: The Perspectivist Interpretation of Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morality
Daniel R. Rodrıguez-Navas
Is Heidegger’s History of Being a Genealogy?
Sacha Golob
On Moral Unintelligibility: Beauvoir’s Genealogy of Morality in the Second Sex
Sabina Vaccarino Bremner
Reason Versus Power: Genealogy, Critique, and Epistemic Injustice
Daniele Lorenzini
Vindicating Reasons
Guy Longworth

Gane, Nicholas. “Neoliberalism and the Defence of the Corporation.” Theory, Culture & Society, (September 2022).

This article addresses a little-known event in the history of neoliberalism: a conference at Stanford University held in 1982 to reconsider Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means’ The Modern Corporation and Private Property 50 years after its initial publication. This event is important as it is where key members of the neoliberal thought collective sought to define and defend the powers and freedoms of the corporation. First, this article outlines the political commitments of Berle and Means by considering the core arguments of The Modern Corporation and Private Property; second, it addresses key papers from the event published subsequently in the Journal of Law and Economics; and third, it analyses the neoliberal defence of the corporation that emerged from these papers, and reflects on the limitations of the work of Berle and Means for developing a response to their neoliberal critics.

corporations, firms, libertarianism, neoliberalism, ownership, power, value

Zhang, Z. and Moore-Cherry, N. (2022), Urban Redevelopment, Displacement, and Governmentality in Nanjing’s Historic Inner-City. Antipode, 54: 979-999.

Housing-related urban development has become a core plank of China’s economic policy since the mid-1990s. Reports of resistance to displacement and resettlement associated with urban restructuring, once widespread, have dissipated since the early-2010s. Using the framework of governmentality and through qualitative empirical fieldwork in the historic inner-city of Nanjing, we try to understand the dynamics of this change. This research draws attention to how governments deploy new technologies and rationalities to regroup and push forward urban transformation. We highlight how more “advanced” disciplinary apparatuses both encourage neoliberal subjectivities among displacees and use authoritarian features to maintain the “order of things” in line with the desires of the Chinese state.

Terri Bourke, Mary Ryan, Leonie Rowan, Joanne Lunn Brownlee, Susan
Walker & Lyra L’Estrange (2022): Teacher educators’ knowledge about diversity: what enables and constrains their teaching decisions?, Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education,

DOI: 10.1080/1359866X.2022.2119369

Internationally and in Australia, there is growing evidence that graduate teachers feel under prepared to teach diverse groups of children. This study, using a social lab and drawing on theories from Archer and Foucault examined Australian teacher educators’ views on knowledge about diversity and the enabling and constraining factors that influenced their teaching around diversity in their universities. Eleven discourses emerged, revealing knowledge associated with teaching about and to diversity, rather than teaching for diversity. The authors argue that all three facets are necessary for thorough preparation of preservice teachers for today’s diverse classrooms.

Diversity; reflexivity; discourse; knowledge; decision-making; initial teacher education

Bietti, Elettra, A Genealogy of Digital Platform Regulation (June 3, 2021). 7 Georgetown Law and Technology Review (2022) (forthcoming),

Available at SSRN: or

At its inception between the 1960s and 1990s, the internet was imagined as a decentralized, horizontal and open space that would foster freedom and equality. Today, it is a collection of walled gardens, a hierarchical ecosystem ruled by a few gatekeepers who leverage access to data, attention and infrastructural capability to enclose users and competitors in relations of dependency. The transition happened over the course of one, or at best two, decades. Why did the power of digital platform companies such as Google/Alphabet, Facebook/Meta, Amazon, and Apple emerge and grow so quickly without a regulatory response? An important reason is that the intellectual and institutional toolbox available to Western lawyers, policymakers, and thinkers is grossly inadequate to diagnosing and addressing harm and power formation in the information capitalist era.

In this Article, I adopt a genealogical methodology to trace the evolution of digital platform regulation efforts and controversies. I connect current efforts to 1990s debates around the regulation of cyberspace: contestations on the meaning of freedom, law, power, and democracy in digital spaces. I isolate three paradigmatic views, or moments, in early Internet regulation discourse: anarcho-libertarian, liberal, and critical views. I ask how these three views or moments have shaped and led to a similar spectrum of three views on how to regulate digital platforms and promote freedom in digital spaces: libertarian aversion to regulation; liberal perspectives on self-regulation, fiduciary obligations, data protection, competition, and utility regulation; and critical accounts of platform governance.

The move from an Internet of networks to an Internet of platforms represents a significant shift: from a hybrid, decentralized environment where freedom seemed the norm, to a centralized space where the default is privatized enclosure. Still, 1990s and current understandings of digital freedom, power, and law are pervaded by similar market-liberal path-dependencies that continue to facilitate the consolidation of private power in digital environments. I suggest two steps towards a post-neoliberal approach to digital policy.

Keywords: digital platforms, power, law, freedom, regulation, Facebook, Google, Amazon, genealogy, data, cyberlaw, cyberspace, data protection, algorithms, competition, antitrust, content moderation, Facebook Oversight Board, fiduciaries, trusts, cooperatives, utilities, EU, US

When I wrote [History of Madness], in Poland in 1958, antipsychiatry didn’t exist in Europe, and in any case it wasn’t an attack on psychiatry for the very good reason that the book stops at the very start of the nineteenth century – I don’t even fully examine the work of Etienne Esquirol. Despite all this, the book has continued to figure in the public mind as being an attack on contemporary psychiatry. Why? Because for me – and for those who read it and used it – the book constituted a transformation in the historical, theoretical, and moral or ethical relationship we have with madness, the mentally ill, the psychiatric institution, and the very truth of psychiatric discourse. So it’s a book that functions as an experience, for its writer and reader alike, much more than as the establishment of a historical truth. For one to be able to have that experience through the book, what it says does need to be true in terms of academic, historically verifiable truth. It can’t exactly be a novel. Yet the essential thing is not in the series of those true or historically verifiable findings but, rather, in the experience that the book makes possible. Now, the fact is, this experience is neither true nor false. An experience is always a fiction: it’s something that one fabricates oneself, that doesn’t eist before and will exist afterward. That is the difficult relationship with truth, the way in which the latter is bound up with an experience that is not bound to it and, in some degree, destroys it.

Michel Foucault, “Interview with Michel Foucault” In J. Faubion (ed.). Tr. Robert Hurley and others. The Essential Works of Michel Foucault 1954-1984. Volume Three. Power New York: New Press, p. 243

The Ethics of Richard Rorty. Moral Communities, Self-Transformation, and Imagination
Edited By Susan Dieleman, David E. McClean, Paul Showler, Routledge, 2022

Book Description
This book contains diverse and critical reflections on Richard Rorty’s contributions to ethics, an aspect of his thought that has been relatively neglected. Together, they demonstrate that Rorty offers a compelling and coherent ethical vision. The book’s chapters, grouped thematically, explore Rorty’s emphasis on the importance of moral imagination, social relations, language, and literature as instrumental for ethical self-transformation, as well as for strengthening what Rorty called “social hope,” which entails constant work toward a more democratic, inclusive, and cosmopolitan society and world.

Several contributors address the ethical implications of Rorty’s commitment to a vision of political liberalism without philosophical foundations. Others offer critical examinations of Rorty’s claim that our private or individual projects of self-creation can or should be held apart from our public goals of ameliorating social conditions and reducing cruelty and suffering. Some contributors explore hurdles that impede the practical applications of certain of Rorty’s ideas.

The Ethics of Richard Rorty will appeal to scholars and advanced students interested in American philosophy and ethics.

Table of Contents
Introduction: Stretched Thin: Rorty’s Ethical Vision Paul Showler and Susan Dieleman

Part I: Creating Moral Communities and Creating Selves

1. Reading Rorty in Tehran; Or, What Happened When I Road-Tested Rorty’s Philosophy of Life Inside an Iranian Prison Kian Tajbaksh

2. Self-Creation and Community: Nietzsche, Foucault, Rorty Daniel I. Harris

3. Richard Rorty, Ethnocentrism, and Moral Community: A Westerner’s Response to FGM John Giordano

4. Rorty’s Hope of Achieving a Global Civilization Clarence Mark Phillips

Part II: Imagination, Care, and Virtue

5. Imagination as a Social Virtue Santiago Rey

6. Can Trees Care? The Overstory and Rorty’s Ideal of Inspirational Literature Ben Roth

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