Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

zamora-engDaniel Zamora and Michael C. Behrent (eds), Foucault and Neoliberalism, Polity Press, 2016

Michel Foucault’s death in 1984 coincided with the fading away of the hopes for social transformation that characterized the postwar period. In the decades following his death, neoliberalism has triumphed and attacks on social rights have become increasingly bold. If Foucault was not a direct witness of these years, his work on neoliberalism is nonetheless prescient: the question of liberalism occupies an important place in his last works. Since his death, Foucault’s conceptual apparatus has acquired a central, even dominant position for a substantial segment of the world’s intellectual left.

However, as the contributions to this volume demonstrate, Foucault’s attitude towards neoliberalism was at least equivocal. Far from leading an intellectual struggle against free market orthodoxy, Foucault seems in many ways to endorse it. How is one to understand his radical critique of the welfare state, understood as an instrument of biopower? Or his support for the pandering anti-Marxism of the so-called new philosophers ? Is it possible that Foucault was seduced by neoliberalism?

This question is not merely of biographical interest: it forces us to confront more generally the mutations of the left since May 1968, the disillusionment of the years that followed and the profound transformations in the French intellectual field over the past thirty years. To understand the 1980s and the neoliberal triumph is to explore the most ambiguous corners of the intellectual left through one of its most important figures.

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foucault-hermeneuticsMichel Foucault, About the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the Self. Lectures at Dartmouth College, 1980, University of Chicago Press, 2015.

Translated by Graham Burchell

Edited by Henri-Paul Fruchaud and Daniele Lorenzini
Introduction and critical apparatus by Laura Cremonesi, Arnold I. Davidson, Orazio Irrera, Daniele Lorenzini, Martina Tazzioli
160 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2015

In 1980, Michel Foucault began a vast project of research on the relationship between subjectivity and truth, an examination of conscience, confession, and truth-telling that would become a crucial feature of his life-long work on the relationship between knowledge, power, and the self. The lectures published here offer one of the clearest pathways into this project, contrasting Greco-Roman techniques of the self with those of early Christian monastic culture in order to uncover, in the latter, the historical origin of many of the features that still characterize the modern subject. They are accompanied by a public discussion and debate as well as by an interview with Michael Bess, all of which took place at the University of California, Berkeley, where Foucault delivered an earlier and slightly different version of these lectures.

Foucault analyzes the practices of self-examination and confession in Greco-Roman antiquity and in the first centuries of Christianity in order to highlight a radical transformation from the ancient Delphic principle of “know thyself” to the monastic precept of “confess all of your thoughts to your spiritual guide.” His aim in doing so is to retrace the genealogy of the modern subject, which is inextricably tied to the emergence of the “hermeneutics of the self”—the necessity to explore one’s own thoughts and feelings and to confess them to a spiritual director—in early Christianity. According to Foucault, since some features of this Christian hermeneutics of the subject still determine our contemporary “gnoseologic” self, then the genealogy of the modern subject is both an ethical and a political enterprise, aiming to show that the “self” is nothing but the historical correlate of a series of technologies built into our history. Thus, from Foucault’s perspective, our main problem today is not to discover what “the self” is, but to try to analyze and change these technologies in order to change its form.

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Lee Quinby, Anti-Apocalypse. Exercises in Genealogical Criticism, University of Minnesota Press, 1994

As the year 2000 looms, heralding a new millennium, apocalyptic thought abounds-and not merely among religious radicals. In politics, science, philosophy, popular culture, and feminist discourse, apprehensions of the End appear in images of cultural decline and urban chaos, forecasts of the end of history and ecological devastation, and visions of a new age of triumphant technology or a gender-free utopia. There is, Lee Quinby contends, a threatening “regime of truth” prevailing in the United States-and this regime, with its enforcement of absolute truth and morality, imperils democracy. In Anti-Apocalypse, Quinby offers a powerful critique of the millenarian rhetoric that pervades American culture. In doing so, she develops strategies for resisting its tyrannies.

Drawing on feminist and Foucauldian theory, Quinby explores the complex relationship between power, truth, ethics, and apocalypse. She exposes the ramifications of this relationship in areas as diverse as jeanswear magazine advertising, the Human Genome project, contemporary feminism and philosophy, texts by Henry Adams and Zora Neale Hurston, and radical democratic activism. By bringing together such a wide range of topics, Quinby shows how apocalypse weaves its way through a vast network of seemingly unrelated discourses and practices.

Tracing the deployment of power through systems of alliance, sexuality, and technology, Quinby reveals how these power relationships produce conflicting modes of subjectivity that create possibilities for resistance. She promotes a variety of critical stances-genealogical feminism, an ethics of the flesh, and “pissed criticism”-as challenges to apocalyptic claims for absolute truth and universal morality. Far-reaching in its implications for social and cultural theory as well as for political activism, Anti-Apocalypse will engage readers across the cultural spectrum and challenge them to confront one of the most subtle and insidious orthodoxies of our day.

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rawatVinod Kumar Rawat, Knowledge-Power/Resistance: Beyond Bacon, Ambedkar and Foucault, Partridge India Publication, 2014

Amazon link

Schools, Colleges, Universities, and Educational institutes, that is, “knowledge factories,” apart from producing self-governing citizens, and skilled docile workers, function as minute social observatories that indirectly monitor their families. Michel Foucault delineates power in terms of Pastoral (church and salvation), Sovereign (visible and verifiable), Disciplinary (invisible and unverifiable), Bio-power (reproduction and individualization), Psychiatric (normal and abnormal), and Governmentality (sovereignty, discipline, and government). By applying Foucault’s theory, the research investigated the relevance of the Francis Bacon’s popular dictum, “Knowledge is Power,” and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s final words, “Educate, Agitate, Organize.” The insights of the research may benefit the seekers and disseminators of knowledge in understanding the subtle operative modes of the government-capitalist nexus and in advocating appropriate resistance against the pathologies of power.

Summary by author
Academic institutes appear to be apolitical, independent, and gender-neutral in their innocuous transaction of knowledge between the teachers and the taught. The inherited belief is that teachers and academic administrators facilitate transmission of liberal education to the student community. However, Michel Foucault (1926-84) points out that even the libertarian institutes like universities and hospitals are structured on oppressive and disciplinary institutions like factories, prisons, and barracks that reinforce the government in exercising power over the citizens. These “knowledge factories,” apart from producing self-governing citizens, skilled and docile workers, function as minute social observatories that indirectly govern the families of the students.

Foucault applied tools like genealogy and archaeology to study a range of institutions like family, church, parliament, factory, barrack, dormitory, hospital, prison, and mental asylum with an objective to expose the “modes of objectifications” through which human beings are transformed into “subjects.” The first mode is “inquiry” through disciplines like linguistics, economics, and biology. The second mode, “dividing practices,” either divides the individual from within (insane) or from others (criminals and good students). And in the final mode, self-objectification, one learns to recognise oneself as the subject of some knowledge like sexuality. In this way, Foucault delineates power in terms of Pastoral (church and salvation), Sovereign (visible and verifiable), Disciplinary (invisible and unverifiable), Bio-power (reproduction and individualization), Psychiatric (normal and abnormal), and Governmentality (sovereignty, discipline, and government). The research attempts to investigate the relevance of Francis Bacon’s popular dictum, “Knowledge is Power,” and B. R. Ambedkar’s final words, “Educate, Agitate, and Organize,” seeks to explore the invisible link between knowledge, education, and power. Simultaneously, the thesis examines the education-knowledge-power nexus wherever teacher-taught relationship is in practice.

A campus comprises the microcosmic image of the nation, formed by the people from different parts of the country in the form of faculty, administrators, students, and office staff. In this regard, India is considered a macrocosmic social metaphor for the Indian campuses, and its apparatus and officiates are seen vis-à-vis with those of the campuses such as the Constitution of India/institute, the official language of India/the first language of the institute, the parliament/the senate, the prime minister/the vice-chancellor or the director, the ministers/the administrators, the citizens/the residents, the bureaucrats/the faculty, the lawyers/the student-representatives, the courts/the disciplinary committees, and the prisoners/the students.

The thesis contains five chapters. The first chapter titled, “Education, Knowledge, and Power,” uses the views of various thinkers to illustrate that the covert function of the educational institutes is to maintain class inequality instead of imparting knowledge. Foucault proclaims that power can be converted into knowledge and vice-versa, and that it produces resistance.Foucault subverts the popular theories of “power” by Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud who propagated that power is negative and repressive. After establishing and exposing the relationship between the politics-knowledge nexus, the thesis investigates the semantic boundaries of campus fiction. It also contains a brief review of the Western works and shows how this genre originated and developed.

The second chapter titled, “Sovereign Power: Caste System and University Administration,” discusses Foucault’s view of the Sovereign power and examines why understanding the history of a country is a prerequisite for understanding the contemporary culture and society. In this regard, it evaluates the Indus valley civilisation, Hindu caste-system, Muslim invasion, the British rule and the partition of India. It maps the knowledge-power nexus in the Western context and explains that in India, apart from the race and class, the ancient caste system has given rise to new complexities. This analysis leads to the discovery of various misconceptions, mis/representations of people and false propaganda within the Indian society as a part of power-politics nexus. The chapter ends with the discussion on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi who played a pivotal role in laying the foundation of modern and independent India.

The third chapter titled, “Disciplinary Power: Class and Panoptic Professors,” seeks to understand how Foucault by leading the life of an exemplary disciplined student substantially developed his concept of disciplinary power. It introduces the important concept of “Panopticism,” with a focus on “invisible gaze,” and elaborates that the teachers merely act as “agents of power.” It evaluates the socio-political conditions that took place between the partition of India in 1947 and the enforcement of the Indian Constitution in 1950. Finally, the chapter reveals how the “class system,” through the establishment of the democracy, permeated the post-independent Indian society and premier educational institutes like the IITs, the IIMs, the IIITs, and the NITs.

The fourth chapter titled, “Bio-Power: Gender, Caste, and Resistance,” deals with Foucault’s theory of bio-power and traces the subordination of women in the global perspective. In the Indian context, it exposes the subjugation of the females through scriptures. This chapter also deals with Foucault’s views on resistance and employs his archeology methodology to expose the statements made by Rajendra Pandey regarding the continuation of the traditional castes in maintaining their status quo as the intellectual castes even after the Indian independence. Finally, it attempts to consolidate Foucault’s views to sketch the exact relationship between power, knowledge and resistance. Accordingly, these triads are inseparably linked together as Knowledge-Power/Resistance, they are to be seen as action words, and their functioning is to be grasped in their invisibility.

The fifth chapter titled, “Indian Campus Fiction: Textual Elucidations,” opens with defining India and Indian culture. It further highlights the genesis of fiction as imported genre in India. It traces the origin of the Indian Campus Fiction through a survey of literature on the major works done in this field. In order to illustrate the results derived through Foucauldian study, representative Indian Campus Fiction have been studied. The insights of the research may benefit the seekers and disseminators of knowledge in understanding the subtle operative modes of the government-capitalist nexus and in advocating appropriate resistance against the pathologies of power. The faculty might adopt humanitarian and egalitarian methods of teaching, while the students might gain productive and positive knowledge.

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Arpad Szakolczai, Max Weber and Michel Foucault: Parallel Life-Works, Routledge, 1998

About the Book
Max Weber and Michael Foucault are among the most controversial and fascinating thinkers of our century. This book is the first to jointly analyse them in detail, and to make effective links between their lives and work; it coincides with a substantial resurgence of interest in their writings. The author’s exciting interpretative approach reveals a new dimension in reading the work of Foucault and Weber; it will be invaluable to students and those researching in sociology and philosophy.

Introduction Part I: Studying Life-Works
1. On Reflexive Historical Sociology
2. On the Conditions of Possibility of Understanding
3. Nietzsche, Weber and Foucault: The Keys
4. Nietzsche, Weber and Foucault: Their Problem. Introduction to Parts II and III Part II: Weber’s Life-Work
5. Background and Early Years Up to 1897
6. Years of Crisis and Quest 1897-1910
7. New Focus and Recovery 1911-1920 Part III: Foucault’s Life-Work
8. Background and Early Years Up to 1966
9. Years of Quest and Crisis 1966-1979.
10. New Focus and Recovery 1980-1984.


Arpad Szakolczai studied in Budapest, Hungary and has a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. From 1990 to 1998 he taught social and political theory at the European University Institute in Florence. He is now Professor of Sociology and Head of Department at University College, Cork.

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mayesChristopher Mayes, The Biopolitics of Lifestyle: Foucault, Ethics and Healthy Choices, Routledge, 2016. Forthcoming

About the Book
A growing sense of urgency over obesity at the national and international level has led to a proliferation of medical and non-medical interventions into the daily lives of individuals and populations. This work focuses on the biopolitical use of lifestyle to govern individual choice and secure population health from the threat of obesity. The characterization of obesity as a threat to society caused by the cumulative effect of individual lifestyles has led to the politicization of daily choices, habits and practices as potential threats. This book critically examines these unquestioned assumptions about obesity and lifestyle, and their relation to wider debates surrounding neoliberal governmentality, biopolitical regulation of populations, discipline of bodies, and the possibility of community resistance.

The rationale for this book follows Michel Foucault’s approach of problematization, addressing the way lifestyle is problematized as a biopolitical domain in neoliberal societies. Mayes argues that in response to the threat of obesity, lifestyle has emerged as a network of disparate knowledges, relations and practices through which individuals are governed toward the security of the population’s health. Although a central focus is government health campaigns, this volume demonstrates that the network of lifestyle emanates from a variety of overlapping domains and disciplines, including public health, clinical medicine, media, entertainment, school programs, advertising, sociology and ethics.

This book offers a timely critique of the continued interventions into the lives of individuals and communities by government agencies, private industries, medical and non-medical experts in the name of health and population security and will be of interests to students and scholars of critical international relations theory, health and bioethics and governmentality studies.

Christopher Mayes is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine (VELiM).

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cisneyVernon W. Cisney and Nicolae Morar (Eds), Biopower: Foucault and Beyond, University of Chicago Press, 2015

Michel Foucault’s notion of “biopower” has been a highly fertile concept in recent theory, influencing thinkers worldwide across a variety of disciplines and concerns. In The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Foucault famously employed the term to describe “a power bent on generating forces, making them grow, and ordering them, rather than one dedicated to impeding them, making them submit, or destroying them.” With this volume, Vernon W. Cisney and Nicolae Morar bring together leading contemporary scholars to explore the many theoretical possibilities that the concept of biopower has enabled while at the same time pinpointing their most important shared resonances.

Situating biopower as a radical alternative to traditional conceptions of power—what Foucault called “sovereign power”—the contributors examine a host of matters centered on life, the body, and the subject as a living citizen. Altogether, they pay testament to the lasting relevance of biopower in some of our most important contemporary debates on issues ranging from health care rights to immigration laws, HIV prevention discourse, genomics medicine, and many other topics.

Biopower is a remarkable book. Although it contains essays written by the most important and well-known commentators on Foucault, it is really more than a study of Foucault’s concept of biopower. The majority of the essays expands, extends, and transforms the concept of biopower. Like all of the essays in the volume, the introduction written by Morar and Cisney is excellent. They are to be congratulated not only for organizing such an impressive volume, but guiding us through it with their analysis. This will be the definitive volume on biopower for decades to come.” (Leonard Lawlor, Penn State University)


Vernon W. Cisney and Nicolae Morar
Introduction: Why Biopower? Why Now?

Part I : Origins of Biopower

Judith Revel
One / The Literary Birth of Biopolitics (translated by Christopher Penfield)

Antonio Negri
Two / At the Origins of Biopolitics (translated by Diana Garvin)

Ian Hacking
Three / Biopower and the Avalanche of Printed Numbers

Catherine Mills
Four / Biopolitics and the Concept of Life

Paul Patton
Five / Power and Biopower in Foucault

Part II : The Question of Life

Mary Beth Mader
Six / Foucault, Cuvier, and the Science of Life

Jeff T. Nealon
Seven / The Archaeology of Biopower: From Plant to Animal Life in The Order of Things

Eduardo Mendieta
Eight / The Biotechnological Scala Naturae and Interspecies Cosmopolitanism: Patricia Piccinini, Jane Alexander, and Guillermo Gómez-Peña

Part III : Medicine and Sexuality: The Question of the Body

Carlos Novas
Nine / Patient Activism and Biopolitics: Thinking through Rare Diseases and Orphan Drugs

David M. Halperin
Ten / The Biopolitics of HIV Prevention Discourse

Jana Sawicki
Eleven / Precarious Life: Butler and Foucault on Biopolitics

Part IV : Neoliberalism and Governmentality: The Question of the Population

Todd May and Ladelle McWhorter
Twelve / Who’s Being Disciplined Now? Operations of Power in a Neoliberal World

Frédéric Gros
Thirteen / Is There a Biopolitical Subject? Foucault and the Birth of Biopolitics (translated by Samantha Bankston)

Martina Tazzioli
Fourteen / Discordant Practices of Freedom and Power of/over Lives: Three Snapshots on the Bank Effects of the Arab Uprisings

Part V : Biopower Today

Paul Rabinow and Nikolas Rose
Fifteen / Biopower Today

Ann Laura Stoler
Sixteen / A Colonial Reading of Foucault: Bourgeois Bodies and Racial Selves

Roberto Esposito
Seventeen / Totalitarianism and Biopolitics? Concerning a Philosophical Interpretation of the Twentieth Century (translated by Timothy Campbell)

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