Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Description: An interview of the American anthropologist Paul Rabinow about his life and work in Morocco and in the philosophy of anthropology and science studies. Filmed by Alan Macfarlane on 31st October 2008. Edited by Sarah Harrison. Generously supported by the Leverhulme Trust. Includes a transcript.
Created: 2011-04-12 14:55
Collection: Film Interviews with Leading Thinkers
Publisher: University of Cambridge
Copyright: Professor Alan Macfarlane

Here is the section from the transcript on Foucault:

10:12:12 When I went to California as a professor in 1978, I had heard of Foucault before but had never been very interested in his work; Dreyfus, John Searle and I talked a lot and in my first year at Berkeley, Dreyfus and Searle were giving a seminar on Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Foucault and Derrida; Dreyfus and Searle interpreted Foucault as a structuralist which I didn’t think was correct; Dreyfus and I discussed the issue at length and decided to write an article together, I began to convince him that what he said should be nuanced; at that point someone mentioned that Foucault was coming to Stanford (near Berkeley) to give a lecture;

I suggested calling him and asking him to talk with us; Foucault agreed and we went to fetch him; Dreyfus tape records everything that he does as he claims not to have a memory; we talked for eight hours that first day; basically, Foucault felt isolated in Paris; this is very common in France where the boundaries of who you can talk to and confide in are rigorously policed, isolating people more the higher they go; Foucault was suffering from this half-voluntary half-involuntary control; so there we were, neither Dreyfus nor I were particularly interested in Foucault’s work or had any stakes in the matter, but we thought he was confused about some things and needed to clarify his method, Foucault responded extraordinarily well; it was a gift for him to actually engage in discussion without being so guarded;

he said once that if in Paris you said that you were talking about the Enlightenment, the one thing that everyone would be sure of was the Enlightenment was not the real subject; in Berkeley and in the US more generally he found the opposite is the case; the lack of Parisian sophistication pleased him, we developed a strong intellectual connection; my then wife and I became friends with Foucault and his partner, Daniel Defert, and spent a year and a half in Paris (1980-81);

during this period Foucault was returning to Berkeley regularly, this lasted until his untimely death (1984); during the course of our discussions the structuralism issue fell away, and another way of putting together rigorous concept work with detailed empirical work began to be exciting to me; that is what I like about anthropology and why I am an anthropologist with philosophic interests, but very few if any philosophers combine the two; since what he and I were doing was never the same, it was possible to work alongside him and also to be independent at the same time; This was a tremendously important turning point for me; I didn’t want to go back to Morocco, I was exploring the possibility of working in Vietnam; through discussions with Foucault, I began to formulate a conceptual framework which would be a kind of archaeological history of the present; I continue to think he was a great thinker but also that what he did had its limits;

much of the Foucault literature I find wrong or boring, especially the British governmentality work; as the gradual publication of his lectures indicate many unexpected things continue to be opened up by Foucault; like McKeon, he was a great influence but it was always impossible for me to be a disciple, and that is the position that I want; Foucault also wanted people to govern themselves; Bourdieu wanted you to be part of his state and his party, Foucault hated that; that suited me so I have continued with that as one of the things that I do; personally, Foucault was a very unhappy, deeply private man; he was extremely kind, and very attentive to small human things; at that level he was comfortable to be around; on the other hand you always had the sense that he was somewhere else; he was quasi-suicidal during these years, deeply in the process of changing his thought, and his relationship with Daniel was not good;

if you buy the argument that with Heidegger and Wittgenstein traditional Western metaphysics was over, then those people who wanted to continue to do philosophy or to lead a philosophic life had to figure out a different form; Richard Rorty tried and didn’t know how to do it because most philosophers can only do traditional philosophy even though they know that that tradition is over; Foucault figured out a different way of leading the philosophic life which included a Nietzschean, but also anthropological, attention to detail; in his case art and historical archaeological detail, but he spent his life not arguing concepts with people but working through material;

reading Foucault’s books and some of the lectures, their engagement with detailed historical context, with options and constraints, with settings and milieu, that combination of attention to detail combined with a passion for conceptual clarification, seems to me unique; with Dumont, you knew what his theory was, similarly with Bourdieu, theory and examples; Foucault developed a very different relation between theory and examples; I know he didn’t have any theory; this is in the tradition of concepts, experiments and results which then become problems; for me his was a philosophic life and, in many ways, a deeply anthropological life, always engaged outwards while thinking all the time; hence one needs to read his books, and particularly the recent lectures, as examples of experiences and experiments rather than theory or doctrine.

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Hamdi Nabli : “Le discours radical offre une binarisation du monde, il faut un discours alternatif”, Bondy Blog en partenariat avec Liberation, mardi 27 janvier 2015

Par Mathieu Blard

Influencé par les théories de Foucault et Baudrillard, Hamdi Nabli, politologue, livre son regard sur la radicalisation, le traitement médiatique et ses conséquences. Rencontre.

Vendredi 23 janvier, 10h Collège des Bernardins, dans le Ve arrondissement parisien, rendez vous avec Hamdi Nabli, politologue, auteur de La fraternité aryenne, l’esprit du terrorisme au cœur de l’Amérique blanche, et co-auteur de L’inégalité politique en démocratie.

Est-il possible de dégager les causes de radicalisation ?

Hamdi Nabli : Les causes sont plus ou moins connues. Les policiers et les criminologues en ont conscience, ce sont les inégalités économiques et sociales. C’est aussi la prison au cœur de la société française, autour de laquelle il y a une vraie hypocrisie. Il est dit que c’est un problème, alors que c’est un système fonctionnel. Comme le souligne Michel Foucault dans Surveiller et punir, on utilise la prison pour créer cette figure du délinquant qu’on va pouvoir ensuite attaquer dès qu’il va se passer quelque chose. La prison est l’institution phare de la société occidentale moderne. C’est elle qui fonde une société qui exclut, régie par le principe selon lequel celui qui enfreint la loi doit être hors la société. Ce n’est pas un problème de cas sociaux, c’est un problème de civilisation. L’exclusion est un problème central qui se voit aussi au niveau des territoires. Il existe une forme de ségrégation au cœur même de l’inclusion sociale.


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Diálogo sem Fronteira – Michel Foucault e a Revolução Iraniana (2015)
Broadcast on the TV Channel of the State University of Campinas.

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Booked #3: What Exactly is Neoliberalism?
Timothy Shenk ▪ Dissent, April 2, 2015

Booked is a monthly series of Q&As with authors by Dissent contributing editor Timothy Shenk. For this interview, he spoke with Wendy Brown about her new book Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (Zone Books, 2015).

Climate change, a crippled welfare state, the 2008 financial crisis, skyrocketing income inequality, political disappointments reaching back decades, terrible superhero movies grossing billions of dollars, and Tinder—these are just a few of the sins attributed to neoliberalism. But what exactly is neoliberalism? An economic doctrine? The revenge of capitalism’s ruling class? Or something even more insidious?

Wendy Brown takes up these questions, and more, in her latest work, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. A searching inquiry, the book is part historical study, part philosophical treatise, and part engaged polemic. Scholarship on neoliberalism is booming, but Undoing the Demos highlights a subject too often neglected: the political consequences of viewing the world as an enormous marketplace. Her conclusions are grim, but that makes grappling with them all the more urgent.

—Timothy Shenk

read more

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Miro Brada, Discontinuity, the new Artform

This film was presented during an exhibition in Holland Park, UK between 18.Oct-3.Nov 2013:

It is partially based on the philosophy of Michel Foucault…

The interview I was doing with Miroslav Marcelli (a student of Foucault) about Foucault philosophy is here:

You can also find this interview with visual material at philpapers

Excerpt from the interview (Discontinuity and exclusion):

MB Did Foucault’s criticism of universal concepts deny differences (in charm, intellect, morality)?

MM Foucault does not deny differences, only questions conditions of their possibility. The differences transfer in our responses to judgements whose basis is however neither natural nor stable. It emerged in certain historical moment whose circumstances reveal interest to exclude those who differ.

MB Fools?

MM There were times when the higher truth notifying the future was revealed through a mouth of a fool. How happened, that since Enlightenment a fool had been classified as a folly and got into enclosed institution? This question lead to the Foucault’s first great book: History of Madness (1961). He will ask such questions during whole of his life. Why is an idea once a deep knowledge, marked as a blunder?

MB Is historical, social, cultural, science evolution illusionary?

MM Foucault doubted the progress of Western society that should be guaranteed by acquired privileges as scientific advance, humanistic base of law, progressive education. He was not the first critique. Psychologist Jean Piaget noticed similarity between Foucault’s The words and the things (1966) and Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962).

MB What was Foucault’s contribution?

MM He particularized steps and processes of preconditions. Episteme, the principle of power structure, notifies in an indefinite form, and then transforms itself to theory. The norm to supervise and punish had only gradually resembled a prison or school. These motions don’t need to be overlapped by a story of unstoppable progress of modern society.

MB What’s a message of Foucault’s book This is not a pipe with a pipe’s image?

MM Foucault thought that Magritte’s painting of a pipe entitled This is not a pipe, deviated from imitation that long dominated western art. Plato called such images – without predetermined pattern, simulacra and condemned their creators as producers of delusions. Simulacra can explain many phenomena of our contemporary visual culture.

MB According to Foucault, the power defines the “author” and its role, while the invention is secondary, irrelevant or an obstacle (e.g. Galileo). How was Foucault as an “author” defined?

MM Foucault challenged the idea of „author”, as a source of hidden abilities and inspirations. Likewise Russian formalists or art historian Wölfflin thought that creator’s great secret was an illusion. So Foucault’s position belongs here too.

MB What was Foucault’s contribution?

MM He was dismantling this illusion being a challenge for a thorough historical analysis of assumptions. The author should be decomposed and reconstructed according to different social orders, by relevant archived texts. As we see the result of study in archives, we can see Foucault closer.

MB He – himself authority – viewed the authority a power tool. Isn’t it a paradox?

MM Foucault taught us that history of thought of 19 century can be written without emphasis on the most recognized philosophers: Hegel, Marx. He didn’t claim that power only represses us, and so we must release ourselves. He rejected the concept of punitive power, and understood its function to repress as well as create us. He just refused its innocent appearance. Power affects relation of teacher-student, which does not imply to remove the teacher. Understanding history of such relations transfers their character.

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Peut-on critiquer Foucault ? Entretien avec Daniel Zamora, Par Ballast – 3 décembre 2014

See earlier post on Critiquer Foucault

See also a translation of this interview into English by Seth Ackerman on the Jacobin magazine site. (With thanks to Leonardo Goi for this link)

Le titre est provocateur, soit. Mais à voir sa canonisation et son omniprésence dans le monde universitaire ainsi que dans bien des cercles de la gauche radicale, la question est en droit de gratter. D’autant que nous aimons, à Ballast,  faire la part belle aux débats, aux échanges de vues — discordantes et contradictoires, de préférence — et aux démêlées qui agitent le vaste champ socialiste. Un essai collectif, titré Critiquer Foucault, vient de paraître aux éditions Aden. « Loin de mener une lutte intellectuelle résolue contre la doxa du libre marché, Michel Foucault semble, sur bien des points, y adhérer », assure-t-il tout de go. Pour en discuter, nous avons rencontré l’instigateur dudit essai, le sociologue belge Daniel Zamora.

Link to interview on Ballast site

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Foucault’s legacy: an interview with Frédéric Gros 14 July 2014, Verso Blog. Translation.

Frédéric Gros is the editor of Michel Foucault’s lectures at the Collège de France and the author of Michel Foucault (1996) and Foucault et la folie (1997). Having taught in prison for many years, he devoted a book to the philosophical fundaments of the right to punish (Et ce sera justice, 2001), as well as other texts such as States of Violence: An essay on the end of war (2010) and Le Principe sécurité (2012). Nicolas Truong from Le Monde recently interviewed Gros about the legacy of Michel Foucault.
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Read the original French interview here.

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