Foucault News

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

Centre Michel Foucault

Le Centre Michel Foucault est une association fondée le 31 mai 1986 à l’initiative de chercheurs internationaux qui ont accompagné le développement du travail et de la pensée de Michel Foucault.

Initialement créé pour rassembler documents, archives et travaux liés à l’œuvre de Foucault, pour faciliter et coordonner des recherches se rapportant à sa pensée ou s’inspirant de ses orientations et de ses méthodes, et pour développer les échanges internationaux autour de cette œuvre, le Centre Michel Foucault a également accompagné durant les trois dernières décennies la publication des Dits et écrits puis des cours au Collège de France, en lien avec des activités de recherche menées à partir des archives déposées à l’Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine et, depuis 2013, à la Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Le Centre Michel Foucault continue à ce jour d’accompagner la publication de cours, conférences et matériaux inédits, notamment la série « Foucault inédit » chez Vrin et la série « Cours et travaux antérieurs au Collège de France » chez Seuil-Gallimard.

Le Centre Michel Foucault s’est fixé comme objectif, depuis sa création, de soutenir et de promouvoir les recherches en cours sur l’œuvre de Michel Foucault.

Cette mission principale comporte plusieurs volets :

  • Rencontres doctorales
  • Bourse de recherche
  • Financements ponctuels

Callaghan, C.W. Critical perspectives on international pharmaceutical innovation: Malthus, Foucault and resistance
(2019) Critical Perspectives on International Business, 15 (1), pp. 68-86.

DOI: 10.1108/cpoib-11-2017-0078

Purpose: This paper aims to argue that certain insights offered by Kuhn and Foucault may be of use to those seeking to resist a global paradigm of inequality in access to the outcomes of pharmaceutical development. It is further argued that these relationships are not independent of certain power relationships. This critical review seeks to highlight certain of these power relationships, and to suggest how they might be better managed to ensure more equitable outcomes for those in society that are most vulnerable to innovation failure. Design/methodology/approach: This research takes the form of a critical review paper, seeking to develop theory though a synthesis of literature. Findings: Unlike market incentives, it might be the research process itself that is most vulnerable to stakeholder resistance to slow and unequal delivery of life-saving pharmaceutical development. Given that a lack of responsiveness to societal needs can itself be considered unethical, Kuhnian theory predicting pharmaceutical innovation failure is related to what Foucault describes as a system of oppression, whereby power relationships disadvantage those most vulnerable and powerless. Research limitations/implications: Given the rise of movements like citizen science and participant-led research, as well as new ethical frameworks premised on increasing accountability in science, Foucault’s principles are considered to echo a general trend towards the democratisation of science, and towards increasing the responsiveness of pharmaceutical development to societal needs. Originality/value: A novel synthesis of literature is undertaken, offering useful theoretical insights into how social actors might contribute to enabling a more responsive system of international healthcare business. © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited.

Author Keywords
Citizen science; Foucault; Innovation failure; Pharmaceutical development; Research productivity; Resistance

Bresnihan, P. Revisiting neoliberalism in the oceans: Governmentality and the biopolitics of ‘improvement’ in the Irish and European fisheries
(2019) Environment and Planning A, 51 (1), pp. 156-177.

DOI: 10.1177/0308518X18803110

Foucault’s account of the emergence of biopolitics in the late 18th century helps frame the political economy of ‘improvements’ as an environmental project linked to the well-being of the population. Since the 1970s, biopolitical concerns have shifted towards non-human populations and the reproduction of natural resources and ecosystems. This has become evident in the European fisheries, where after decades of exploitation greatly intensified since the 1960s, the extractive demands of the fishing industry have caught up with the reproductive capacities of most commercially targeted fish stocks. This contradiction has given rise to a new political economy of ‘improvements’ that seeks to sustain the biological health of commercially targeted fish populations while maintaining an economically profitable fishing industry. Central to this transition is the active role that fishers are expected to play in sustainably managing the fish stocks they exploit while adapting to ‘green’ market opportunities. Tradeable quota systems, eco-accreditation schemes and community-based resource management have all emerged as managerial strategies for inciting the active participation of fishers in this ‘common’ project of sustainable development. Drawing on Foucault’s perspective of governmentality, this paper argues that these strategies represent distinct but overlapping apparatuses of neoliberal governmentality that are representative of broader tendencies within environmental governance today. © The Author(s) 2018.

Author Keywords
Biopolitics; environmental governance; fisheries; governmentality; neoliberalism

Sacco, P.L., Ghirardi, S., Tartari, M., Trimarchi, M. Two versions of heterotopia: The role of art practices in participative urban renewal processes (2019) Cities, 89, pp. 199-208.

DOI: 10.1016/j.cities.2019.02.013

The purpose of this paper is to take part in the debate about power relationships in contemporary cities between the agents of urban renewal and the local communities, as mediated by cultural and artistic interventions and projects. Our study proposes a new conceptual frame, focused on the comparison between two notions of heterotopia as theoretical alternatives for the interpretation of cities as social and participatory spaces. The notions we consider may be traced to two key thinkers such as Michel Foucault and Henri Lefebvre, and lay the foundation for alternative analytical paradigms of the contemporary urban condition, in relation to artistic and cultural practices in the public space. We draw upon these two alternative readings of heterotopia to explore the implications of the interaction of artistic practices with the urban space as a contested terrain from the viewpoint of power relationships. In our analysis, we find that Foucault’s notion of heterotopia is potentially conducive to top-down planning processes and to gentrification. Lefebvre’s notion is instead possibly more suited to participatory practices as strategies of reactivation of the right to the city. © 2019 Elsevier Ltd

Author Keywords
Art practices; Henri Lefebvre; Heterotopia; Michel Foucault; Participative urban regeneration

Parchev, O. Biopower, Sadomasochism, and Pastoral Power: Acceptance via Transgression (2019) Sexuality and Culture, 23 (1), pp. 337-355.

DOI: 10.1007/s12119-018-9563-x

The transposition of biopower from the state to the individual has been a major preoccupation of biopower scholarship in recent decades. While some researchers have found grounds for optimism in the diminution of state control over people’s bodies, others see the change as merely a more sophisticated version of state control which has become, if anything, more invasive of individual lifestyle choices. In this paper I show how the institutionalization of hierarchical power relations does justify optimism about ways of confronting the complex mechanisms of control entailed in modern biopower. I claim that the crux of control in our information society derives from the transposition of the pastoral power described by Michel Foucault to the modern state and that the institutionalization of hierarchical power relations can constitute an effective countermeasure to that power. Hierarchical power exchanges can generate a social and cultural framework which, while operating according to the logic of biopower, expands modes of thought and practice beyond the unified thinking that contributes significantly to the modern state’s control over the individual. © 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Author Keywords
Biopower; Erotic power exchange; Pastoral power; Sexuality

Index Keywords
article, controlled study, human, human experiment, institutionalization, logic, optimism, sadomasochism, sexuality, thinking

Feldman, A.J. Power, labour power and productive force in Foucault’s reading of capital
(2019) Philosophy and Social Criticism, 45 (3), pp. 307-333.

DOI: 10.1177/0191453718798416

This article uses Foucault’s lecture courses to illuminate his reading of Marx’s Capital in Discipline and Punish. Foucault finds in Marx’s account of cooperation a precedent for his own approach to power. In turn, Foucault helps us rethink the concepts of productive force and labour power in Marx. Foucault is shown to be particularly interested in one of Marx’s major themes in Capital, parts III–IV: the subsumption of labour under capital. In Discipline and Punish and The Punitive Society, Foucault offers a genealogy of the forms of labour power (Arbeitskraft) and productive force (Produktivkraft). One of his central problems is to understand how labour power is converted in productive force and how, prior to that, productive subjects who can properly bear and dispose of their labour power are formed. Foucault’s reading of Capital resonates with those currents of Marx interpretation today that seek to repoliticize the concept of productive force and to offer a materialist account of subject formation. © The Author(s) 2019.

Author Keywords
Capital; Discipline and Punish; Foucault; Illegalisms; Labour power; Marx; Productive force; The Punitive Society

Foucault on fake news, social media and algorithms – BBC Ideas

If he were still alive, what would philosopher Michel Foucault make of the world today? He’d be sounding the alarm, says Professor Angie Hobbs, Professor of Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield.
Made by The Moment, 9 August 2018

Schaffeld, N. A Fictionalized Representation of Scientific Counter-Discourse: Jo Lendle’s Historical Science Novel Alles Land (2011)
(2019) German Quarterly, 92 (1), pp. 35-50.

DOI: 10.1111/gequ.12093

This paper explores a fictionalized series of past events in which a process of scientific discovery clearly contradicts the dominant academic discourse and is therefore bound to meet with powerful opposition. Based on an analysis of Jo Lendle’s novel Alles Land (2011), the literary representation of the life of Alfred Wegener (1880–1930) and his theory of continental drift is studied against the backdrop of Thomas S. Kuhn’s conceptualization of the processual character of science, as well as a modified reading of Foucault’s discursive formations. The novel identifies Wegener’s scientific plight as the fatal outcome of a nexus between modalities that predefine the object of research and those that regulate the institutional right to speak. In Lendle’s context-dependent narrativization, which provides the reader with a clear epistemic advantage, these two modalities fatefully converge in order to effectively, if falsely, claim that as a young astronomer and atmospheric physicist, Wegener allegedly lacks authority to speak on geological subject matters. © 2019, American Association of Teachers of German

Author Keywords
Alfred Wegener; epistemic change; geology; historical novel; Jo Lendle; narrative

Progressive Geographies

9780226509464.jpgMichel Foucault, Discourse and Truth and Parresia, University of Chicago Press, 2019

edited by Henri-Paul Fruchaud and Daniele Lorenzini, English edition established by Nancy Luxon

This volume collects a series of lectures given by the renowned French thinker Michel Foucault late in his career. The book is composed of two parts: a talk, Parrēsia, delivered at the University of Grenoble in 1982, and a series of lectures entitled “Discourse and Truth,” given at the University of California, Berkeley in 1983, which appears here for the first time in its full and correct form. Together, they provide an unprecedented account of Foucault’s reading of the Greek concept of parrēsia, often translated as “truth-telling” or “frank speech.” The lectures trace the transformation of this concept across Greek, Roman, and early Christian thought, from its origins in pre-Socratic Greece to its role as a central element of the relationship between…

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Brewis, D.N. Duality and Fallibility in Practices of the Self: The ‘inclusive subject’ in diversity training (2019) Organization Studies, 40 (1), pp. 93-114.

DOI: 10.1177/0170840618765554

The concept of ‘inclusion’ has been gaining ground in a field known as equality and diversity work. Scholars have begun to both theorise what this concept means as a normative goal and to critically examine how it is mobilised in organisational practice. This paper contributes to the latter conversation by asking what comes to count as ‘doing inclusion’ at the level of the individual. I examine the practices of diversity training in United Kingdom organisations, in which diversity practitioners seek to transform their trainees into people who will act inclusively toward others, asking: Who is the ‘inclusive subject’ that is being constructed – imagined, sought and legitimised – through diversity training? What are the conditions of possibility that shape the emergence of this subject? And what are the possibilities that this subject affords to marginalised groups struggling for recognition within organisations? The analysis mobilises Foucault’s notions of power/knowledge, discipline, and practices of the self to describe and discuss the performance of inclusive subjectivity in the context of diversity training in the UK. The practices described are found to be facilitated by two key forms of knowledge about how the subject is characterised: duality and fallibility. The discussion of these two forms of knowledge leads us to consider the relations of both discipline and freedom that take place in diversity training. © The Author(s) 2018.

Author Keywords
diversity; equality; Foucault; inclusion; organisational change; subjectivity

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