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Olga Campbell-Thomson, Theory as method: the importance of Foucault in my doctoral research, Social Theory Applied blog, November 4 2013

Now that I have completed my doctoral dissertation, I have the feeling it could be accomplished in a shorter time and it could progress in a more straightforward manner… In short, I wish I knew where my search for method and theoretical underpinnings would lead my work to. Well, back then I didn’t know. So, the entire process of doctoral research was lengthy and rather circuitous, but it was also rewarding as it evolved.

What started as a search for the method, ended up as a propitious finding of the theoretical framework for the analysis and interpretation of the data. My encounter with Foucault’s theorizing on the constitution of the subject not only shaped my thinking, it also allowed me to gather a voluminous corpus of the data into a manageable structure, and helped decide on the methods of data analysis. In this respect, theoretical perspective and method evolved in tandem and were supporting each other. However, meaningful encounter with Foucault did not happen right away, and the name itself was nowhere in my initial research proposal.

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The Social Theory Applied blog started out as a theory and educational research blog but as Mark Murphy, who runs the blog, explains it has recently broadened its focus

Please note that the remit of the site is to become broader than its original focus on educational research – now to cover the field of social science research generally. This change in emphasis is in line with my own intellectual interests but also reflects my strong belief that research in fields such as education should not be considered in isolation from other connected fields such as social work, urban studies, etc.

Here is a link to mainly education focused posts relating to Foucault

The blog welcomes new contributions.

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Originally posted on Progressive Geographies:

SP & DPAlan Sheridan’s translation of Foucault’s Surveiller et punir as Discipline and Punish is almost forty years old, and it is sometimes said that great works of literature need to be retranslated each generation. (For some examples of this for works of theory, see my post here). Foucault scholarship has advanced quite dramatically in the last forty years. The collected shorter writings, and especially the lecture courses, have given us a new sense of what Foucault was doing. The debates in the secondary literature have moved on too – Sheridan’s Michel Foucault: The Will to Truth was the first book on Foucault in English in 1980. Compare that book to more recent secondary studies and you’ll get a sense of how debates have changed.

Sheridan deserves enormous credit for the work he did, translating several of Foucault’s books and writing that first, important, study of his work. A good many…

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Michel Foucault and “the problem of war”, 1981

From Philippe Theophanidis’ blog Aphelis

Therefore, if you like, I never stop getting into the issue of law and rights without taking it as a particular object. And if God grant me life, after madness, illness, crime, sexuality, the last thing I would like to study would be the problem of war and the institution of war in what one could call the military dimension of society. There again, I would have to cross into the problem of law, the rights of people and international law, etc… as well as the question of military justice: what makes a Nation entitled to ask someone to die for it.

☛ “What Our Present Is?” an interview with Michel Foucault by André Berten, tr. by Lysa Hochroth, Politics of Truth, ed. Sylvère Lotringer, New York: Semiotext(e), 1997, pp. 167-168. For more detail about the source of this interview, see below.

By the time he did this interview, Michel Foucault had already explored the problem of war in two of his lectures at the Collège de France. First in a discussion of civil war during the 1973 course La Société punitive. Second, in a more exhaustive analysis of the concept of war in his 1975-76 course Il faut défendre la société (translated as Society Must Be Defended, 2003).

In an entry he wrote for The Foucault Lexicon (forthcoming April 2014), John Protevi provides an excellent synthesis of Foucault’s views on war, especially in the 70s:

In Discipline and Punish (1975), Foucault uses “war” (or at least “battle”) as a “model” for understanding social relations. But this epistemological use of “war” did not last. In consulting the Collège de France lecture courses, we see him conduct a genealogy of the war model in “Society Must be Defended” (1975-76). As a result of this investigation, the use of “war” in History of Sexuality, volume 1 (1976) is no longer epistemological, but practical: “war” is seen as a “strategy” for integrating a differential field of power relations. Then, toward the end of the 1970s, perhaps in dismay at discovering in his genealogical investigation a deep relation of the war model and state racism, in Security, Territory, Population (1977-78) Foucault drops “war” to move to “governmentality” as the “grid of intelligibility” of social relations. (“War” in The Foucault Lexicon, ed. Leonard Lawlor and John Nale, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2014; PDF, cited with permission)

In the second volume Dits et écrits (Paris: Gallimard, 2001), war is hardly mentioned by Michel Foucault after 1976, especially has the main topic of his research. In 1977, when he mentions it in interviews, it is in relation to the problem of the meaning of “struggle” and “class struggle” (item 195, p. 206; item 206, p. 311; item 215, p. 391). In 1980, it is in relation with his dislike for polemics (item 281, p. 914), and in 1983 with his childhood and also in relation with pacifism (item 336, p. 1347; item 337, p. 1357). Finally, in 1984, he commented again on why he was not fond of polemics (item 342, p. 1410-1411). This brief list is based on the edition’s index, which I know not to be perfectly reliable (few are).

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Paolo B. Vernaglione, Foucault in rete, Alfabeta2, 2 gennaio 2014

Per una urgente archeologia dei saperi dell’ultima modernità, Michel Foucault “sul web” potrebbe funzionare come dispositivo di sottrazione al potere narcisistico e commerciale della rete e come luogo di acquisizione di sapere in rapporto immediato con la realizzazione quotidiana della soggettività.

Se si pensa alla caotica produzione di informazione su social network e mobiles ci si rende conto della enorme sproporzione tra l’inesauribile dispersione di testi e la concentrazione, ahimè residuale, dell’impresa cartacea, affidata ad archivi non digitalizzati e a pochi e mal finanziati centri di ricerca. Da qui l’esigenza di compilare un regesto dell’attività svolta da siti e blog dedicati a Foucault.

In questa impresa, di cui qui si offre una sorta di possibile work in progress, ci viene incontro il terzo prezioso volume della rivista Materiali Foucaultiani, scaricabile dal sito omonimo e dedicato per metà alla pubblicazione in italiano di una inedita conferenza del 1964 all’Università belga di Saint Louis, Langage et literature, tradotta da Miriam Iacomini, in cui l’autore di Le parole e le cose espone l’intera panoplia di tematiche su cui si è appuntato il suo sguardo analitico: che cos’è un autore, la differenza tra scrittura e letteratura, il ruolo e la funzione di essa come critica genealogica della soggettività e come esperimento su sé stessi.

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Originally posted on Progressive Geographies:

I’ve created a page on this blog under Future Projects for the Foucault’s Last Decade book. This has the proposal, links to the updates I’ve posted here about the book’s progress, and links to a couple of audio recordings of papers. I’ll try to keep this updated as the writing develops.

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Originally posted on Le site de Geoffroy de Lagasnerie:

Dans le Nouvel Observateur du 12 décembre 2013, Eric Aeschimann publie un article intitulé « Foucault est partout » censé décrire l’influence de Foucault dans la pensée contemporaine. C’est un article plein d’erreurs, d’approximations. C’est surtout un texte gênant tant il démontre l’extériorité d’Aeschimann par rapport au monde intellectuel et au monde de la pensée.

Dans ce texte, le critique me range avec François Ewald dans la catégorie des foucaldiens non hostiles à la pensée libérale. C’est évidemment une perfidie – et même une agression – que d’essayer d’inscrire quelqu’un comme moi, qui se situe dans l’espace de la théorie radicale, à côté d’Ewald, ancien conseiller du Medef.

Mais là n’est pas le plus important. Ce qui m’intéresse  ici, c’est le fait que mon livre La dernière leçon de Michel Foucaultysoit lu comme présentant quelque chose  comme un éloge de la pensée néolibérale.

J’ai toujours conçu mon travail…

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Originally posted on Progressive Geographies:

318prs0sjdlI received Foucault’s La société punitive last week, and it was the only academic book I took with me on my Christmas trip to Ghana. As with these lecture courses generally I know I will read them several times, so I’m half-way through a first fairly quick read. I use the initial read to get an overall sense of the trajectory of the course and how it sits in relation to the courses that preceded it and those to come. In this instance the course immediately preceding it – Théories et institutions pénales – is not published, but Psychiatric Power and The Abnormals, which follow, have been available for some time.

I will be writing a review of this course for Berfrois, and there will be some discussion of it in Chapter One of my Foucault’s Last Decade book, so I will be returning to this text…

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Originally posted on Progressive Geographies:

Following my thoughts on the first half, here are some additional comments on the second half of Foucault’s 1973 lecture course La société punitive. As mentioned, I’ll be writing a much more formal and thorough review for Berfrois.

- Harcourt’s notes suggest that this course should be seen as developing the productive side of penalty, as opposed to the more repressive side analysed in the previous course Théories et institutions pénales. But as he suggests it is more than this – it broadens the analysis as well as complements the previous course, looking at the emergence of a new kind of power: disciplinary power. In fact, it appears that Foucault half-wishes that ‘the disciplinary society’ had been the title for the course – Daniel Defert has suggested that that was indeed the original title.

- the course really needs to be seen as a third of…

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Clare O'Farrell:

Update on Stuart Elden’s work on his book on Foucault with lots of links to his other work on Foucault

Originally posted on Progressive Geographies:

Foucault 24 Nov

Having put together rough drafts of chapters 1 and 2 (see previous update), I was now able to move to the real focus of the book. But there is no simple break, and even as I go onto these chapters there was some material from previous courses that was best discussed here. This was especially the case with the material on hysterics and children in Psychiatric Power. While the primary aim of the book is a chronological exposition, it’s not slavishly so.

The idea was that the next chapter (number 3 on the new plan), under the working title of ‘Pervert, Hysteric, Child’, incorporates material from Psychiatric Power and Abnormal into a coherent whole. The next step was, of course, the 1974-75 course Abnormal (incidentally I don’t know why it has this title instead of the more literal The Abnormals). Again, I wrote a piece on this when it…

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