Foucault News

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

Ian Hacking, Anthropologie philosophique et raison scientifique, Textes réunis par Matteo Vagelli. Traduction de Aude Bandini, Vincent Guillin ,Marc Kirsch, Louis Quéré, Matteo Vagelli, Vrin, 2023.

Des calculs de probabilité aux troubles de la personnalité, des électrons à la maltraitance des enfants, de la logique de l’induction aux fous voyageurs, l’éventail des objets abordés par Ian Hacking peut sembler déroutant. Cependant, dans toutes ses recherches, à l’intersection de la philosophie et de l’histoire des sciences, il s’attache à examiner, en toutes leurs nuances et variétés, le rôle joué par l’expérimentation dans les sciences de la nature et la spécificité des « espèces humaines » comme objets des sciences humaines et sociales.
Les textes réunis dans ce volume – dont certains publiés pour la première fois ici en français – montrent que les différents aspects de la production philosophique de Ian Hacking s’entre-répondent et dessinent ensemble un portrait complexe et articulé de la raison scientifique.
Son approche originale, au croisement (entre autres) de l’analyse conceptuelle, de la philosophie du langage ordinaire, de l’archéologie foucaldienne et de l’histoire des sciences, a contribué à ouvrir de nouveaux chantiers de réflexion, faisant de Ian Hacking l’une des figures les plus dynamiques et influentes non seulement dans le domaine de l’épistémologie philosophique, mais aussi en sociologie, en anthropologie et en histoire.

Pierre Dardot, Haud Guéguen, Christian Laval et Pierre Sauvêtre: Macron and Civil War in France, Diakritik, 1 mai 2023
English translation by Colin Gordon (PDF)
French original in Diakritik

We say a lot of bad things about Macron and the recent forced passage through France’s parliament of the pensions reform law. He is said to be egotistical, arrogant and inept. We forget that he is the actor of a wider situation, whose historical function today consists in pursuing a project greater than his own person. It is in fact necessary to set aside micro-scale “psychological” analysis, to objectively consider a policy which, for all its brutality and sometimes tragic irrationality, nevertheless has a precise meaning in the history of our societies. The personal and even sociological characteristics of an individual clearly matter but only through having made Macron this warlord whom we admire or hate.

Some people have mistakenly believed that neoliberalism was too variegated and incoherent a thing to pose a serious threat. Others thought its doctrine was already discredited, along with the political actors and governmental fashions that clothed themselves in its rationality, as if it was enough to observe its catastrophic effects on nature and society to be conclusively liberated from its spell. So many mistaken analyses, so many things overlooked and missed.

We now urgently need to understand how neoliberalism is a doctrine of civil war, in the sense that Michel Foucault suggested as a way of analyzing certain forms of power in his lecture series The Punitive Society. Course at the College de France, 1972-1973, Palgrave Macmillan 2015, p. 13): “civil war is the matrix of all power’s struggles and strategies”.

The current government knows this perfectly well, since it knowingly and systematically pursues that course, while at the same time blaming various “enemies of the republic”, using an inversion of truth which works at the same time as a denial of responsibility.

We therefore see that the Foucauldian invitation to consider all power – and therefore neoliberal power itself – according to the “matrix” of civil war contains something decisive, in a conjuncture like ours. It avoids giving in to the illusion that the state has, in essence, the function of harmonizing differences and points of view through a “dialogue”, rational if possible, between “partners”, in order, on the contrary, to consider the state as a leading player in the conduct of civil war. But it also enables full appreciation of the scope of the mobilizations in progress, by bringing to light the profound coherence which links the policy of regression of the social state and Macron’s ecocidal politics.

Jasper Friedrich & Rachel Shanks (2023) ‘The prison of the body’: school uniforms between discipline and governmentality, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 44:1, 16-29.

DOI: 10.1080/01596306.2021.1931813

This article asks what uniform practices in schools can tell us about how power functions through a comprehensive analysis of the uniform policies of all Scottish state secondary schools (n = 357). Against the backdrop of large-scale shifts from disciplinary societies to ones dominated by ‘neoliberal governmentality’ identified by Foucault and others, we investigate how these modes of power seem to be entangled in school uniform policies. The analysis reveals the specification of detailed uniform policies that both homogenise, divide and hierarchise the school body, suggesting that disciplinary techniques are alive and well. However, in the justifications that schools provide, we see uniform policies framed not as a tool to enforce discipline, but rather as a technique for pupils to fashion themselves into respectable and employable future adults. We suggest the rise of a ‘neoliberal governmentality’ has shaped how schools justify their practices of control more than it has shaped the practices themselves.

KEYWORDS: School uniform policies, school dress codes, discipline, governmentality, Foucault, content coding analysis

Eric Schliesser, Hume, Husserl and Foucault’s The Order of Things, Digressions & Impressions blog, 12 May 2023

As I have noted before (recall), Hume plays a triple role in Foucault’s (1966) Les mots et les choses (hereafter: The Order of Things).* First, alongside a number of other familiar philosophers Hume’s works are treated as illustrations for Foucault’s claims about the nature of representation and knowledge in the episteme of the so-called ‘classical’ period. In such cases Foucault assumes considerable knowledge about Hume among his implied audience. That Foucault can do so is explained by the second role Hume has, that is, of being a familiar steppingstone in a narrative that undergirds the self-understanding of phenomenology which is treated as the ruling philosophical status quo by Foucault. This narrative is one of Foucault’s main targets in The Order of Things. However, and this is the third role, in characterizing the distinctive nature of the classical age, Foucault does single out Hume individually. And this is so because he can both assume familiarity with Hume (given the familiarity of Foucault’s audience with Hume as a steppingstone in their standard narrative) as well as render Hume unfamiliar in virtue of his retelling of the story of early modern philosophy. In today’s post I am focused on Husserl’s role in these matters, especially the second role.

Arar, K., Örücü, D. (2022). A Foucauldian Analysis of Culturally Relevant Educational Leadership for Refugees as Newcomers. In: English, F.W. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Educational Leadership and Management Discourse. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

This chapter aims to deconstruct culturally relevant leadership (CRL) and social justice leadership (SJL) frameworks in newcomers’ education using the Foucauldian lens, based on extensive research on refugee and newcomers’ education and its leadership. The way the Foucauldian lens on enunciative fields will be utilized in this chapter draws on the proposition of its authors that implementing social justice policies in schools and that existing educational leadership theory (mostly developed in “Western” societies) cannot simply be adopted without revisiting and contextualized into all other world societies, rather a critical form of educational leadership is needed that grounds educators’ work in their cultural and social heritage and enables them to understand and carry out their responsibilities in the local educational field.

Culturally relevant leadership
Social justice
Refugee and newcome

Progressive Geographies

Samuel Lindholm, Jean Bodin and Biopolitics Before the Biopolitical Era – Routledge, September 2023

A prohibitively priced hardback only at this point…

This book offers fresh perspectives on the history of biopolitics and the connection between this and the technology of sovereign power, which disregards or eliminates life.

By analyzing Jean Bodin’s political thought, which acts as a prime example of early modern biopolitics and proves that the two technologies can co-exist while maintaining their conceptual distinction, the author combines Foucauldian genealogy with political theory and intellectual history to argue that Michel Foucault is mistaken in presuming that biopolitics is an explicitly modern occurrence. The book examines Bodin’s work on areas such as populationism; censors; climates, humors, and temperaments; and witch hunts.

This pioneering book is the first English-language volume to focus on the biopolitical aspects of Bodin’s work, with a Foucauldian reading of his political thought. It will appeal…

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CFP: MANCEPT Workshop – Causal Histories: The Role of Genealogical Inquiries in Moral, Social and Political Philosophy

Workshop format: in-person (we will consider a small number of online presentations for speakers from overseas)

Abstract deadline: June 5th, 2023

Workshop dates: 12-13 September 2023

Invited speakers: Matthieu Queloz (University of Basel), Alexander Prescott-Couch (University of Oxford), Benjamin De Mesel (KU Leuven), David Owen (Southampton)

Convenors: Francesco Testini (Jagiellonian University), Victor Braga Weber (UCL)

In recent years, the term ‘genealogy’ has been gaining currency in moral, social, and political philosophy, with several authors arguing that attending to the causal histories of certain beliefs, concepts or practices can contribute to their evaluation. Whether, how, and which genealogical methods can contribute to this end, however, is still subject of debate.

The issue cuts across traditional methodological borders. Authors working in the critical theory tradition generally agree that genealogical accounts can reveal something puzzling about their targets – although they disagree both on what these puzzling features are (Haslanger 2012, Srinivasan 2019), and on whether this revelation is an integral or only a propaedeutic component of critique (Koopman 2013, Lorenzini 2020). On the other hand, analytic philosophers tend to look at genealogies with an eye on gaining functional insights about their targets, but disagreements remain as to what these insights amount to and how they can be retrieved (cf. Smyth 2020 and Queloz 2021).

At the applicatory level, the debate is gaining just as much traction, with several authors using genealogies to elucidate, criticize or vindicate certain conceptions of – and views about – terrorism (Erlensbusch-Anderson 2018), adaptive preferences (Enoch 2020), liberalism (Testini 2021), property (Rossi and Argenton 2021), forward-looking responsibility (Alfano 2021) and reasonableness (Lawlor 2022).

This variety shows that genealogical approaches are set to become a key topic of discussion in practical philosophy broadly construed, and such a discussion promise to be a lively one, bringing scholars with different backgrounds together and getting philosophy in closer contact with empirical disciplines such as evolutionary anthropology, sociology, and cultural history, to name but a few.

This workshop aims at gathering scholars working on genealogical methods and their applications to explore potential links and synergies among different lines of enquiry. Topics to be discussed will include (but are not limited to):

  •        What role(s) does historical information play within genealogies that seek to reach normative conclusions? Is there room for philosophical fictions in genealogies? If so, of what kind?
  •        What relevant ends can genealogy pursue within moral, social, and political philosophy? Are any of these ends in tension with one another?
  •       How many varieties of genealogical investigation are to be found within the contemporary philosophical landscape? What (if anything) unites these forms of investigation, and where do the main differences between them lie?
  •        Are some genealogical endeavors self-defeating? How worried should genealogists be about committing the genetic fallacy?
  •        What different kinds of objects can be the target of genealogical enquiries?
  •        Do different objects of inquiry require different methodological approaches?
  •        Should we think of the methods and aims of genealogical inquiry within moral, social and philosophy as being consistent with normative theorization in such fields? If not, why?

Please send an email with an anonymised 600 – 800 word abstract to by June 5th, 2023. Please, let us know in the email whether you plan to attend the conference in person or online. Also, please include a separate cover sheet with your paper title, contact details (name, email, institutional affiliation), and whether you intend to participate in person/online.

Pierre Dardot, Haud Guéguen, Christian Laval et Pierre Sauvêtre: Macron et la guerre civile en France, Diakritik, 1 mai 2023

On dit beaucoup de mal de Macron à propos du passage en force de la réforme des retraites. On le dit égotiste, arrogant et tout sauf habile. On oublie qu’il est l’homme de la situation, dont la fonction historique aujourd’hui consiste à poursuivre un projet qui le dépasse. Il convient en effet de se déprendre de la petite analyse « psychologique » pour considérer objectivement une politique qui, pour être brutale et parfois tragiquement irrationnelle, n’en a pas moins un sens précis dans l’histoire de nos sociétés. Les caractéristiques personnelles et même sociologiques d’un individu comptent à l’évidence mais seulement pour avoir fait de Macron ce chef de guerre qu’on admire ou qu’on déteste.

Certains ont cru à tort que le néolibéralisme n’était qu’une doctrine suffisamment hétéroclite ou incohérente pour ne pas avoir à trop s’en inquiéter. D’autres ont pensé que cette doctrine était déjà passée aux oubliettes et avec elles les politiques et les modes de gouvernement qui y trouvent leur rationalité, comme s’il avait suffi d’en constater les effets catastrophiques sur la nature et la société pour en être définitivement libérés. Autant d’erreurs accumulées d’analyse, qui ont conduit à beaucoup d’aveuglements. Il est urgent que l’on comprenne bien en quoi le néolibéralisme est une doctrine de guerre civile, au sens où Michel Foucault avançait en matière de méthode d’analyse du pouvoir que « la guerre civile est la matrice de toutes les luttes de pouvoir, de toutes les stratégies du pouvoir » (Michel Foucault, La société punitive. Cours au Collège de France, 1972-1973, EHESS-Gallimard-Seuil, 2013, p. 15) Ce que l’actuel gouvernement sait parfaitement bien, puisqu’il la met sciemment et systématiquement en œuvre tout en accusant les divers « ennemis de la république » d’en être responsables, selon un retournement qui a tout du déni.

Pierre Dardot, Haud Guéguen, Christian Laval et Pierre Sauvêtre sont les coauteurs du Choix de la guerre civile, Une autre histoire du néolibéralisme, Lux, 2021.

María Laura Martínez Rodríguez, Texture in the Work of Ian Hacking. Michel Foucault as the Guiding Thread of Hacking’s Thinking, Springer, 2021

About this book
This book offers a systematized overview of Ian Hacking’s work. It presents Hacking’s oeuvre as a network made up of four interconnected key nodes: styles of scientific thinking & doing, probability, making up people, and experimentation and scientific realism.

Its central claim is that Michel Foucault’s influence is the underlying thread that runs across the Canadian philosopher’s oeuvre. Foucault’s imprint on Hacking’s work is usually mentioned in relation to styles of scientific reasoning and the human sciences. This research shows that Foucault’s influence can in fact be extended beyond these fields, insofar the underlying interest to the whole corpus of Hacking’s works, namely the analysis of conditions of possibility, is stimulated by the work of the French philosopher.

Displacing scientific realism as the central focus of Ian Hacking’s oeuvre opens up a very different landscape, showing, behind the apparent dispersion of his works, the far-reaching interest that amalgamates them: to reveal the historical and situated conditions of possibility for the emergence of scientific objects and concepts.

Ian Hacking’s thinking
Influence of Michel Foucault on Hacking’s work
Key nodes in Ian Hacking’s thought
Ian Hacking styles of scientific thinking & doing
Ian Hacking’s proposal for natural and human sciences
foucault and hacking
scientific realism
the philosophy of Francis Bacon

About the author
María Laura Martínez, PhD, is Adjunct Professor of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the Universidad de la República (Uruguay). The focus of her research are the History and Philosophy of Science and the History of Science in Uruguay. She has published articles in those areas and is author of 75 primeros años en la formación de los ingenieros nacionales. Historia de la Facultad de Ingeniería (1885-1960) [The first 75 years in the education of national engineers. History of the School of Engineering (1885-1960)] (2014) and Realismo científico y verdad como correspondencia: estado de la cuestión (2009) [Scientific realism and correspondence theory of truth; state of the art] (2009). She has received the National Prize of Literature in the category Philosophy Essays, from the Ministry of Education and Culture of Uruguay (2016).

Martina Tazzioli, Border abolitionism. Migrants’ containment and the genealogies of struggles and rescue, Manchester University Press, 2023. Forthcoming July

Building on an abolitionist perspective, this book offers an essential critique of migration and border policies, unsettling the distinction between migrants and citizens. This is the only book that brings together carceral abolitionist debates and critical migration literature. It explores the multiplication of modes of migration confinement and detention in Europe, examining how these are justified in the name of migrants’ protection. It argues that the collective memory of past struggles has partly informed current solidarity movements in support of migrants. A grounded critique of migration policies involves challenging the idea that migrants’ rights go to the detriment of citizens. An abolitionist approach to borders entails situating the right to mobility as part of struggle for the commons.

1 The zero-sum rights’ game: border abolitionism as an analytical gaze
2 ‘Confine to protect’: hybrid spaces of migration containment
3 Participatory confinement: extractive humanitarianism and asylum seekers’ unpaid labour
4 Towards a genealogy of migrant struggles and border violence
5 A history of mountain runaways and rescue: migrants at the Alpine border

Martina Tazzioli is Reader in Politics & Technology at Goldsmiths, University of London

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