Foucault News

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

Grohmangrohman, S. Making space for free subjects: Squatting, resistance, and the possibility of ethics
(2018) HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 8 (3), pp. 506-521.

DOI: 10.1086/701113
Open access

Anthropologists working on ethics have emphasized the importance of freedom for the becoming of ethical subjects. While some have therefore aligned themselves with the later work of Foucault, his earlier work has been identified as part of a “science of unfreedom” antithetical to the study of ethics. In this article, I suggest that the “early Foucault” can nevertheless be relevant for the anthropology of ethics, specifically by looking at contexts where freedom is not a given, but has to be actively created through the overcoming of conditions of unfreedom. Drawing on Faubion’s discussion of ethical subject positions, as well as Foucault’s work on disciplinary architectures, I discuss how subject positions, ethical and otherwise, are also and especially produced through practices of ordering material and symbolic space. Different socio-spatial orders can therefore either be designed to impede the flourishing of free ethical subjects, or to facilitate it. © The Society for Ethnographic Theory. All rights reserved.

Author Keywords
Ethics; Homelessness; Space and place; Squatting; Subject position; Territoriality

Antonio Pele, La méditation : le nouvel « esprit » du capitalisme ? , The Conversation, February 12, 2019

Je souhaiterais identifier les rapports entre la méditation et nos sociétés actuelles. Je ne cherche pas à critiquer la méditation mais à comprendre les raisons de l’enthousiasme qu’elle génère aujourd’hui. Comment cette pratique, qui fut longtemps associée (en Occident) à des conduites jugées « exotiques » voir excentriques, a-t-elle pu se retrouver légitimée par la science, l’économie et le politique ? Pourquoi un tel engouement et surtout qu’est-ce que ce succès peut-il nous dire en retour sur nos sociétés ? J’identifierai trois éléments qui peuvent expliquer – bien que partiellement – les raisons de la diffusion de la méditation aujourd’hui.


« Entrepreneur de soi-même »

Nos sociétés sont néolibérales dans le sens où la liberté individuelle est une valeur fondamentale, les marchés financiers ont acquis un pouvoir supérieur à celui des États et ces derniers délaissent petit à petit leur mission de « providence ».

Il existe aussi une autre caractéristique du néolibéralisme, qui passe souvent inaperçue mais qui est aussi très proche de notre quotidien. Selon Michel Foucault, cette caractéristique consiste à diffuser le modèle de l’entreprise à tous les secteurs de la vie sociale dont, et en particulier, la façon dont nous appréhendons notre propre personne.

Antonio Pele
Associate professor, Law School of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Université Paris Nanterre – Université Paris Lumières

New Means of Workplace Surveillance From the Gaze of the Supervisor to the Digitalization of Employees by Ivan Manokha, Monthly Review An Independent Socialist Magazine (Feb 01, 2019)

In the last twenty years or so, workplace surveillance has attracted a great deal of attention from academics and the mainstream media.1 This is explained by the proliferation of new electronic means of workplace surveillance, which are increasingly adopted by employers. It is now possible to track the movements of employees, record their conversations, register and analyze their performance in real time, and use biometric information for identity and access control, just to name a few examples. Most existing academic analyses of these developments emphasize how new surveillance technologies have enhanced the capacity of employers to monitor employees, often undermining various labor rights, particularly workers’ rights to privacy and equal treatment.2 In different media outlets—including some of the most influential ones, such as the Financial Times, New York Times, BBC, CBS, and Week—discussions of new surveillance technologies have also focused on the increased invasion of employee privacy.3 Most discussions in this area additionally addressed workers’ rights, including the right to privacy and to be free from discrimination.4


In his early studies, Michel Foucault examined how the architectural design of institutions, like asylums and hospitals, spatially distribute individuals and organize a field of visibility, giving the watchers the power to scrutinize and control the behavior of the watched (patients, workers, prisoners, etc.) and to punish those whose behavior violates the established rules.6 In Discipline and Punish and some of his later writings and lectures, Foucault shows that the nature of power in such institutions is not limited to a power of repression, but also involves the creation of “docile bodies” as the watched, aware that they are under constant surveillance, internalize the existing norms and behave in the required manner without coercion—that is, they exercise power over themselves.7

Josephine Berry, Art and (Bare) Life, A Biopolitical Inquiry. Sternberg Press, 2018
December 2018, English
14 x 22.5 cm, 328 pages, 45 color ill., softcover
ISBN 978-3-95679-393-6

Book launch at Imperial College London

Art and (Bare) Life: A Biopolitical Inquiry analyzes modern and contemporary art’s drive to blur with life, and how this is connected to the democratic state’s biologized control of life. Art’s ambition to transform life intersects in striking ways with modern biopower’s aim to normalize, purify, judge, and transform life—rendering it bare. In these intersecting yet different orientations toward life, this book finds the answer to the question: How did autonomous art become such an effective tool of the capitalist state?

From today’s “creative cities” to the birth of modern democracy and art in the French Revolution, Art and (Bare) Life explores how the Enlightenment’s discovery of life itself is mirrored in politics and art. The galvanizing revelation that we are, in Michel Foucault’s words, “a living species in a living world,” free to alter our environment to produce specific effects, is compared here to the discovery that art is an autonomous system that can be piloted toward its own self-determined ends—art for art’s sake. But when both art and the capitalist state seek to change life rather than reflect it, they find themselves set on a collision course.

“Josephine Berry’s Art and (Bare) Life is an exemplary work. Here, for the first time, key concepts of contemporary political philosophy, such as biopower and biopolitics, are embedded within modern art history and theory. Erudite and sensitive to art’s complex field of intentions and outcomes, this in-depth study of aesthetics and politics is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding a foundational and regularly renewed dichotomy: ‘art’ and ‘life.’”
—Angela Dimitrakaki, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art History and Theory, University of Edinburgh

“The millennial body of the human is a territory marked by sacred codes, disciplines, and abstractions. To the technologies of biopower Josephine Berry waves the Medusa head of the art of rebellion.”
—Matteo Pasquinelli, Professor in Media Theory, Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design

Ippolito, J. Reading Interventionist Research in Two Urban Elementary Schools Through a Discursive Lens
(2018) Urban Education, 53 (10), pp. 1265-1290.

DOI: 10.1177/0042085915613550

In this study, I reframe the debate on minority parents and their children’s educators by moving beyond concerns around student academic achievement and toward the quality of relationships among adult stakeholders. Using an interpretive lens based on Foucault’s notion of discourse, I examine three research vignettes drawn from an interventionist research project in two urban elementary schools. This examination identifies and responds to interpersonal, inter-institutional, and inter-epistemological dysfunctions. I make a concluding case for the transformative potential in the interplay of discourses: When inequalities and exclusions are redressed in the research, the project realizes a discursive and ethical possibility. © The Author(s) 2015.

Author Keywords
discourse; Foucault; interventionist research; minority families; parents; poststructural sociology; research relationships; school–university collaboration; teachers; urban elementary schools

Dinah Ribard, 1969 : Michel Foucault et la question de l’auteur. Qu’est-ce qu’un auteur ?
Texte, présentation, et commentaire

Éditions Honoré Champion, Textes critiques français no 2. 2019. 1 vol., 112 p., broché, 13 × 20 cm. ISBN 978-2-7453-4832-6. 20 €

Qu’est-ce qu’un auteur ? est le texte d’une conférence donnée en 1969 à Paris, puis en 1970 aux États-Unis. Il existe plusieurs manières, fort différentes, de donner un contexte aux propositions avancées par Michel Foucault dans ce texte qui fit événement, de raconter l’histoire de l’impact de sa réflexion sur la théorie, la critique, l’histoire du fait littéraire, d’y réagir enfin. On s’efforce ici d’éclairer ces interprétations, ces récits, leurs évolutions et leurs enjeux, en s’intéressant notamment à leur caractère contradictoire, ainsi qu’à l’importance qu’ont eue, pour l’évolution des études littéraires, des choses que Foucault ne dit pas.

Foucault’s 1969 conference, « What is an author? » has been interpreted in various ways. This essay studies both the context of some of the proposals made by the philosopher, the various and contradictory interpretations it received, and the impact it had on literary studies and their history.

Dinah Ribard est directrice d’études à l’EHESS et membre, au Centre de recherches historiques, du Groupe de recherches interdisciplinaires sur l’histoire du littéraire. Elle a notamment publié Histoire littérature témoignage. Écrire les malheurs du temps avec Christian Jouhaud et Nicolas Schapira (2009) et participé au livre du Grihl, Écriture et action XVIIe-XIXe siècle. Une enquête collective (2016).


Progressive Geographies

Macey---Lives-of-Foucault-(dragged)-650f6b95125d9c2c43a563be8ebe9690.jpgDavid Macey’s biography, The Lives of Michel Foucault has now been republished by Verso, with a new afterword by me.

It’s currently available with a 30% discount on the Verso site, with bundled e-book.

When he died of an AIDS-related condition in 1984, Michel Foucault had become the most influential French philosopher since the end of World War II. His powerful studies of the creation of modern medicine, prisons, psychiatry, and other methods of classification have had a lasting impact on philosophers, historians, critics, and novelists the world over. But as public as he was in his militant campaigns on behalf of prisoners, dissidents, and homosexuals, he shrouded his personal life in mystery. In The Lives of Michel Foucault — written with the full cooperation of Daniel Defert, Foucault’s former lover — David Macey gives the richest account to date of Foucault’s life and work, informed as it is…

View original post 34 more words

Progressive Geographies

MMPe-MMPs.jpeg First edition (in a protective wrap), second edition, current edition and translation

I’ve been continuing work on The Early Foucault manuscript, which is coming together quite well. After the Christmas and New Year break, I submitted a book review and chapter on quite different topics. I’m now in Paris, where I’ve been spending time at the manuscripts room at the BnF-Richelieu, but also going to the BnF-Mitterand and Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève for books and journals. The main thing I’ve been doing with the manuscripts is working on Foucault’s Hegel thesis from 1949, and drafting a section of a chapter discussing this, and going back over some of Foucault’s notes from his own reading in preparation for his early books. To get an idea of what those notes look like, the contents of one box, of preparatory materials for Les mots et les choses [The Order of Things], have been digitized…

View original post 999 more words

Gary Gutting (1942-2019), 3am magazine, First posted: Sunday, January 20th, 2019.

Gary Gutting, emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, has died.

Professor Gutting worked on philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, contemporary French philosophy, and contemporary analytic philosophy. He was well-known for his substantial work in public philosophy, authoring several columns and conducting a number of interviews with philosophers for The Stone feature in The New York Times. Also, he was the creator and a long-time co-editor of Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (NDPR). More here at Daily Nous and Leiter Reports.

John Schwenkler, Remembering Gary Gutting, Commonweal
January 20, 2019

After receiving his doctorate in 1968 from Saint Louis University, Gutting’s scholarly work focused originally on twentieth-century French philosophy, especially the work of the philosopher Michel Foucault. Over the course of his career Gutting wrote several books on topics in French philosophy, exploring the work of French intellectuals like Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Alain Badiou, and Paul Ricouer. (Non-philosophers who are interested in getting a flavor of this project might take a look at Gutting’s 2005 book Foucault: A Very Short Introduction, which is just what its title advertises.)

Haskaj, F. From biopower to necroeconomies: Neoliberalism, biopower and death economies (2018) Philosophy and Social Criticism, 44 (10), pp. 1148-1168.

DOI: 10.1177/0191453718772596

Open access

The deaths of millions from war, genocide, poverty and famine are symptomatic of a crisis that extends beyond site-specific failures of governance, culture or economies. Rather than reiterate standard critiques of capitalism, uneven development and inequality, this article probes and maps a shift in both the global economy and logic of capital that posits death as a central activity of value creation. “Crisis,” then, is more than an accidental failure or inconvenient side effect of either global economy or political reality, but pivotal to both. Extending notions of biopower and necropolitics, I argue that, due to the extension of market logic, populations have been reconfigured and reconceptualized as “excess”-not only disposable but also fundamentally valued only in their negation. This devaluation of selected population is devalorization of living labor, thus creating a space for death as a generalized commodity, market and economic activity. Crucially, this shift exceeds the historic understandings of labor, value and politics, forcing a revaluation of biopower and of extant understandings of the global economic and political order. Death as a source of value marks an entirely new space in capital that exceeds its former limits. This process can be seen in examples of genocidal warfare, ethnic cleansing, environmental “disasters” and globalized poverty that function as industries of death, mining the accumulated stored value of life, as death, and as an activity itself, instead of the old extractive exploitation of living labor. © The Author(s) 2018.

Author Keywords
Biopower; Critical theory; Foucault; Genocide; Globalization; Labor; Marx; Necropolitics; Neoliberalism; Political economy

%d bloggers like this: