Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category


Edmund White, Edmund White recalls a night at the opera with Michel Foucault in 1981, The Telegraph, 28 Feb 2014

Author Edmund White looks back at his friendship with the late Michel Foucault

By the time this photo was taken in Paris in 1981 I knew Foucault fairly well. In the late Seventies I had been director of the New York Institute – a think tank involved with the university – where Foucault had lectured. I had taken him out for dinner while he was there, which was a pretty terrifying prospect. Although I had a grand title, I was really just making the coffee. But he was very friendly. He didn’t like to talk about his ideas unless he was in seminars; he talked about everyday life as anyone else would.

He was attracted to tough guys and liked young and effeminate gay boys as friends. I was neither young nor especially effeminate but somehow he liked me. I remember on this occasion in Paris he was very gracious. That evening he took me to the opera – something by Rameau, I think, and a very modern production with a lot of rubber on stage. It was a pretty big deal for him to take me. Sitting in the orchestra at the Paris opera house was terribly expensive. I do recall I made rather a faux pas: during the intermission I ordered a white wine, and Foucault told me you could order a white wine anytime in France except at the Paris opera bar. It wasn’t the done thing.

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globo-FoucaultInterview with Foucault conducted in 1975 published in national newspaper O GLOBO, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Uma entrevista com Michel Foucault, O Globo, 11th January 2014

No ano em que se completam três décadas da morte do filósofo francês, o Prosa publica uma entrevista concedida por ele em 1975 durante visita ao Brasil. Nela, Foucault discute as origens de seu método, fala sobre mecanismos de controle na sociedade e critica o ideal de humanismo fundado em “poder normalizador”

Poucos dias depois do assassinato de Vladimir Herzog por agentes do regime militar, em 25 de outubro de 1975, o jornalista e escritor Claudio Bojunga e o psicanalista e ensaísta Reinaldo Lobo entrevistaram o filósofo francês Michel Foucault (1926-1984), então em visita à Universidade de São Paulo. Publicada originalmente no “Jornal da Tarde”, vespertino de “O Estado de S. Paulo”, a conversa examinava as ideias do filósofo libertário das marginalidades sociais e das minorias culturais, raciais e sexuais. Ainda sob o impacto da violência cometida contra Herzog, os entrevistadores procuraram também esclarecer os conceitos de Foucault sobre os grandes aparelhos de poder e os micropoderes — a Justiça, a polícia, a confissão, a prisão, a psiquiatria, o asilo, a tortura.

No ano em que se completam três décadas da morte de Foucault, o Prosa republica a entrevista. Nela, o filósofo expõe uma visão da cultura e da História que não pretendia explicar o presente pelo passado. Preferia investigar os discursos que condicionam as formas de ver e julgar, e analisar a maneira pela qual a cultura contemporânea determina as condições de possibilidade do novo. Construiu assim sua arqueologia da cultura ocidental.

Foucault dizia que a tarefa do pensamento consistia em reconstituir os sistemas do subsolo da cultura sobre os quais flutuava a imagem da existência. Falava na “morte do homem”, mas negava que ela produzisse um esvaziamento ético, assim como o anúncio de Nietzsche sobre a morte de Deus não propiciara um abismo de permissividade moral. Achava mesmo que essas mortes abriam espaços de liberdade. O pensamento devia pensar-se — para descobrir o que se encontrava na espessura inconsciente do que pensamos.

Por Claudio Bojunga e Reinaldo Lobo*

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With thanks to Karine Sá Antunes Rodrigues for this link

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Angèle Kremer Marietti, Repenser Foucault, Propos recueillis par Bencherki Benmeziane et publiés dans la revue de l’Université d’Oran At-Tadwin de décembre 2012, Dogma : Revue de Philosophie et de Sciences Humaines, octobre 2013

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Editor’s note: Angèle Kremer Marietti’s 1974 book Michel Foucault et l’archéologie du savoir, was amongst the very first books to be published on Foucault’s work.

Que reste-t-il aujourd’hui de la pensée de Foucault ? Pensez-vous que les problématiques discutées dans l’œuvre de Foucault soient toujours d’actualité ?

Je vous remercie de me permettre d’évaluer l’héritage Foucault dans sa réception actuelle. Sans doute, la richesse de l’œuvre de Foucault explique que soient abordés, sous son égide, des thèmes tels que « gouvernement et société », « les maladies du pouvoir », ou « le rôle de la vérité dans la généalogie foucaldienne », qui sont traités actuellement dans le séminaire de mon ami le professeur Jean-François Braunstein à la Sorbonne. Mais il reste que l’actualité historique pourrait bénéficier d’une œuvre particulièrement exigeante comme l’est celle de Foucault. Tout comme l’essence du pouvoir, l’essence des forces sociales en action est à la fois permanente et tacite, relevant à la fois d’une microphysique autant que d’une globalité transparente. Nous ne devons pas oublier qu’immanent et variable, le pouvoir lié au savoir a été la cible de Michel Foucault.


With thanks to Alexandre Klein for this info.

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Interview: William Davies and Nicholas Gane on Neoliberalism

Neoliberalism and the Ethos of Competition:
William Davies and Nicholas Gane in discussion

In this interview for the TCS Website (18 December 2013), William Davies and Nicholas Gane discuss competition, monopoly, markets, neoliberalism and Foucault.

NG: You have a forthcoming book in the TCS book series called The Limits of Neoliberalism. Could you tell us what this book is about?

WD: Initially my interest which led to the book came from when I was working in a policy think-tank – the Institute for Public Policy Research – about nine years ago now. I became very interested in the notion of competitiveness as a concept within public policy discourse because it struck me that nearly any policy could be justified on the basis that it was good for national or urban competitiveness or the competitiveness of communities or regions. One of the things that interested me about that was that clearly it wasn’t simply about opening up the market. It wasn’t simply just about saying that we must have more free trade or deregulation, but that there was a positive aspect of competitiveness. This is what Jamie Peck calls the ‘roll-out’ aspect of neoliberalism, for instance that we should invest in things like broadband infrastructure and other facilities and public spaces which are pro-competitiveness. Clearly this has big implications for universities as well in terms of the knowledge economy and so on. So, in quite a naive, untheorized way, it struck me that something was going on that only much later did I refer to as neoliberalism: that an ethos of competition and competitiveness was an organizing principle and driver for a lot of public policy decision making in ways that weren’t simply about the market in a simpler liberal, classical, Adam Smith sense of the market. That is what led me to do a PhD, which initially looked at discourses of competitiveness. I was particularly interested in notions of competitiveness as developed by the Harvard Business School guru Michael Porter. I then became more interested in how other traditions of economics conceived of competition and competitiveness, such as in the Chicago School, and then how these different concepts fed into policy making apparatuses, regulators and state agencies. This research, much of which has gone into this book, involved me going and meeting experts and economists who advised governments on competition and competitiveness, and then also trying to do more of a genealogical study of where these ideas came from. A crucial moment for me, and many of us who are interested in neoliberalism, was the English publication in 2008 of the Foucault lectures on neoliberalism. This happened just as I was completing my PhD but I had enough time to think hard about the implication of these lectures, particularly what Foucault said about the connection between economics and sovereignty. This really helped to shape my thinking and the focus the book.


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Pierre Lauret, « Foucault est un personnage extraordinaire » entretien avec le collectif théâtral F71, Cahiers philosophiques, 2012/3 (n° 130), 112-126

Further info and text

Fondé en 2004, le collectif F71 est composé de cinq comédiennes (Sabrina Baldassarra, Stéphanie Farison, Emmanuelle Lafon, Sara Louis, Lucie Nicolas), qui co-assument la responsabilité de la mise en scène et de la direction artistique, et d’une directrice de production, Thérèse Coriou. Depuis sa création, ce collectif a monté et présenté trois spectacles autour de Michel Foucault :

  • Foucault 71, qui porte sur l’engagement de Michel Foucault et d’autres intellectuels (Gilles Deleuze, Claude Mauriac…) en 1971 ;
  • La Prison, qui prend pour objet l’institution carcérale et les pouvoirs disciplinaires et de contrôle à l’œuvre dans le champ social ;
  • Qui suis-je maintenant ?, méditation théâtrale rêveuse et poétique sur l’identité et le regard, inspiré par le texte de Foucault « La vie des hommes infâmes » (Dits et Écrits, 1977, n° 198).

Dans l’entretien qui suit, on trouvera le détail de la constitution et de l’histoire de ce collectif théâtral et des enjeux qui nouent sa manière de travailler, mais aussi d’exister dans le champ théâtral, et plus largement dans la société, à la réflexion et à la pratique publique de Foucault.


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The poststructural anarchist. Todd May interviewed by Richard Marshall. First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, July 12th, 2013.

Todd May is the poststructuralist anarchist who thinks anarchism is more than just a critique of the state, that there is more than one struggle, that Foucault, Deleuze and Lyotard are important, that postructuralism is elusive, that anarchism is bottom-up and liberalism is top-down, that ‘how might one live?’ is the down and dirty question, that Foucault’s thought will remain standing when the dust is settled, that what it means to be human is a matter of practices, that Ranciere gets him emotionally, that friendship offers a different model from neo-liberalism and that his conception is about resistance not cohesion. High Five!

3:AM: What made you become a philosopher? Were you always aware of a kind of crisis?

Todd May: Many philosophers I talk with seem to get their start in philosophy from a teacher, often a college professor, that turns them on to the subject. For me, it was different. I went to a high school in New York City during the late 1960s and early 1970s, where ideas and crisis were in the air. It was the kind of place where Melville, Faulkner, and Dostoyevsky, along with the Vietnam War, were regular staples of conversation. So early on I became interested in both ideas and political resistance. In college I studied psychology, but was never far from philosophy: I read Being and Time with a philosophy grad student. Another friend of mine, also a grad student in philosophy, gave me Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception as a graduation present. In the few years I took off between college and grad school, I read most of Merleau-Ponty’s work. Eventually I decided I wanted to go to grad school in clinical psychology, but wanted a phenomenologically oriented one, and so chose Duquesne University. But, as it happens, at the end of my first year there I was introduced to the work of Foucault and Deleuze, who raised unsettling questions for me about the entire project of psychotherapy. I pressed these questions in my classes at Duquesne, admittedly with the passion of which a person committed to ideas is capable, and at the end of my second year was informed that my funding was going to be cut off. So I spent a few more years reading and thinking about what is often called “poststructuralism,” and finally applied to Penn State, where I had the chance to study these thinkers more rigorously. A friend of mine who is a radical lawyer once asked me why I wanted to study philosophy if I was so interested in politics. My response, to which he offered me a mocking stare, was that I felt somehow that in order to understand and solve political problems I needed to be able to grasp their ontological underpinnings.

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Claire Pagès & Mathieu Trachman, « Une analytique du pouvoir. Entretien avec Judith Butler », La Vie des idées, 4 décembre 2012. ISSN : 2105-3030. URL : http://www.laviedesidees.fr/Une-analytique-du-pouvoir.html

Un extrait..

butler La Vie des Idées : Vous avez beaucoup travaillé à débusquer ce qui agit, sans que ce soit dit, comme une norme, au premier chef le genre. Dans une lignée foucaldienne, vous avez cherché, de l’intérieur, à dégager les phénomènes de « littéralisation » ou de naturalisation des normes. Aujourd’hui, dans le cadre de l’analytique du pouvoir que vous élaborez, vous vous attachez à définir une perspective normative, engageant en un sens une démarche de critique sociale. Une telle démarche implique une position d’extériorité, la position d’une norme par rapport à laquelle est évalué un état du réel — position dont vous avez souvent montré le caractère problématique. Qu’est-ce qui vous a conduit à insister sur la dimension normative de votre réflexion, et comment concevez-vous celle-ci ?

Judith Butler : Foucault a toujours fait partie de ma réflexion, et c’est encore le cas aujourd’hui. Mais je ne suis pas Foucault comme l’on suivrait une pensée religieuse. J’adapte son œuvre extraordinaire à de nouvelles fins, et c’est d’ailleurs sans doute l’un de ceux qui m’ont montré qu’il était possible de faire cet usage d’autres penseurs. Dans tous les cas, l’analyse de la performativité du genre s’est toujours efforcée de montrer que l’on considérait certaines performances comme « réelles » et d’autres comme « irréelles ». J’ai pris position contre cette conception de la production du genre et j’ai avancé que les présentations du genre les plus « normatives » et les plus « convaincantes » étaient fondées sur la même logique mimétique que celles que l’on considérait de manière conventionnelle comme déviantes et invraisemblables. Ainsi, l’idée du « normatif » intervient deux fois ; dans le premier cas, comme vous le suggérez, la normativité, comme l’hétéronormativité, désigne un processus de normalisation et de littéralisation. Mais, dans le second cas, nous avons un cadre normatif qui cherche à contester et à déplacer la distinction même entre le réel et l’irréel. C’est également le cas lorsque je parle des vies qu’on peut pleurer et de celles qu’on ne peut pas pleurer. Cela fait le lien entre mes travaux sur la politique LGBTQ et mes travaux plus récents sur la guerre. Mon opinion est que l’on a tort de considérer que certaines vies sont plus réelles, plus vivantes que d’autres, qui seraient moins réelles, moins vivantes. C’est une façon de décrire et d’évaluer la distribution différentielle de la « réalité » en fonction du degré de conformité de ces populations à l’égard de normes établies. C’est aussi une tentative pour produire de nouveaux schémas normatifs qui impliquent une critique rigoureuse de la misogynie, de l’homophobie, du racisme pour faire émerger un monde social et politique qui se caractériserait par l’interdépendance, l’égalité et même la démocratie radicale.

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Originally posted on Progressive Geographies:

MFAOSRAt 3am magazine – Gutting’s Michel Foucault’s Archaeology of Scientific Reasonwas one of the first books on Foucault I read, in the first year of my PhD.

3:AM: You are well known as an expert on various French intellectuals and philosophers. Michel Foucault has been a thinker that you have found important and interesting. You’ve written extensively about him. So firstly, can you sketch out what you understand Foucault’s central contributions to philosophy to have been, in particular his ideas of ‘discourse’, of an ‘archeology of knowledge’ and a ‘genealogical method’?

GG: I see Foucault as more a philosophically informed and oriented historian than as a philosopher in any traditional sense. He typically writes what he calls “histories of the present”, meaning that he starts from what he sees as an ethically intolerable practice of contemporary life (e.g., the treatment of the mad or the system of imprisoning criminals)…

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« I Believe In Time… » Daniel Defert Legatee Of Michel Foucault’s Manuscripts. Interview with Guillaume Bellon, Revue Recto/Verso N°6 – Septembre 2010


Daniel Defert, who shared Foucault’s life for over twenty years, is today in possession of all the notes and manuscripts the philosopher left at the time of his death. Heavy heritage that bears the mark of the Forbidden: Foucault, who would often repeat to the people close to him: “Do not play on me the trick Max Brod played on Kafka”, had indeed made sure to state on his will: “No posthumous publication”. Yet, two important in-progress publications have been carried out since his death in June 1984: first the collection Dits et Écrits, which brings together articles, interviews, and conferences given by the author, along with the progressive publication of all the lectures he gave at the Collège de France starting from 1970 and up to his death. Secondly, two substantial projects, that were not self-evident in the first place, and for which Daniel Defert has been associated in many respects. It is about this delicate problem – the question of the intimacy of a memory that must be respected combined with the possible advertisement of the previously unpublished part of a considerable work – that we decided to question him.  


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