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Petition in French and English

See petition website for other languages and to add your signature

Yes to the institution of the “Michel Foucault and the Philosophy of the Present Chair” at PUC São Paulo

Both São Paulo’s Cardinal, Odilo Scherer, and the Bishops of his archdiocese, recently announced that they do not authorize the creation of what had already been announced 4 years ago: the institution of the “Michel Foucault and the Philosophy of the Present Chair” at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP). This decision not only profoundly surprised all those who, coming from many countries, had from the very beginning embraced this initiative, but also all those who, within PUC-SP itself, had worked vigorously to guarantee the institution of this Chair bearing Michel Foucault’s name.

During the 7th International Michel Foucault Conference, held in October 2011, and which brought together dozens of specialists and interested researchers in Foucault’s oeuvre, a letter was signed supporting the initiative. The list of signees included members of the Collège International de Philosophie (Paris), of the University of Paris VIII, the University of Bordeaux Montaigne, the New University of Lisbon, Madrid’s University Complutense, Paris’ École Normal Supérieure, the Universidad San Martin in Argentina, the Universidad de los Andes in Venezuela and the University of Valparaiso in Chile. The initiative also received support from the General Consulate of France in São Paulo. In 2011, PUC-SP received a copy of the audio archives of Foucault’s classes donated by the Collège de France, in what made PUC-SP the only institution outside France allowed to grant them public access. Having in view the institution of the Michel Foucault and the Philosophy of the Present Chair at PUC-SP, what followed were study sessions, seminars and debates on specific literature as preparatory work for this eagerly anticipated event, all of which generated high expectations and a growing enthusiasm.

The decision to reject the institution of the Michel Foucault and the Philosophy of the Present Chair de-authorizes the scientific, philosophical and pedagogical committees which approved the initiative. ‘Academic freedom’, which stands as a basic fundament of university life, was breached. However, if it is well established that the interest in Foucault’s work goes way beyond religious beliefs, it is no less evident that many Catholic thinkers wrote about and inspired themselves in Foucault’s work. This latter fact – to which we could also add the many studies presently considering Foucault’s contribution to an understanding of Christianity – is ever so more highlighted when Dominicans from the Library du Saulchoir welcomed the archives during the period in which these archives faced the risk of being sent abroad, in what allowed them a safe haven in the very place Foucault worked for hours on end.

This Library, which is irrefutably heir to the Catholic tradition and not for that reason less open to Parisian intellectuals or intellectuals passing through Paris, regularly welcomes presentations and discussions covering diverse fields. It is in light of this plurality that many contemporary studies considering Foucault’s contribution to the study of the origins of Christianity and its rooting in ancient culture, in particular, in Stoic philosophy, have been conducted in the Library. What we find here is an example of historical lucidity of the sort evidenced by the work undertaken by the historian Peter Brown, and upon which students and professors focusing on the first centuries of our era have taken full advantage of and will continue to do so. It is also worth highlighting that, after The Order of Things, Foucault’s own work was strongly inspired by a principle of compassion and dedicated to the question of ‘governmentality’, a question which would transform our way of understanding human relations and their intimate connection with the law.

All these facts already define an excess of reasons justifying our perplexity when faced with the Council of Bishops’ decision. This Chair, which honors Michel Foucault, is not simply dedicated to the readership of his texts (which, today, are already impossible to ignore as part of classical culture): it is also turned towards to the analysis – which is not exclusive to his oeuvre – of the questions posed today by both thought itself and the demands of civil life. The refusal of such a Chair, a Chair which, carrying Michel Foucault’s name, is by nature open to actuality, radically contradicts the deontology of University life as well as its most basic fundament: the exercise of free thought. As such, it can only be the University itself which stands as the first victim of this decision: beyond professors, students and researchers, it is Brazilian public opinion which understands itself to be attacked by such a decision. And we have been witnesses of these protests.

All, however, hope that the Council of Bishops will renounce what evidently stands as a form of censorship, revoking its rejection. The Academic Board at the PUC-SP has appealed the decision. From now onwards, it is up to the international community to show that it supports the institution of the Michel Foucault and the Philosophy of the Present Chair at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo. Such is what the signees of the letter supporting this initiative did in October 2011, a letter which, for the very reason of defending the institution of a Chair bearing Michel Foucault’s name, is itself already an invitation to all those committed to exercise of free thought to join them.

Pétition

Oui à la Chaire « Michel Foucault et la philosophie du présent » à l’Université catholique de São Paulo

Le Cardinal de São Paulo, Odilo Scherer, et les évêques de l’Archidiocèse de la ville viennent d’annoncer qu’ils n’autorisent pas la création, prévue depuis quatre ans, de la Chaire « Michel Foucault et la philosophie du présent » à l’Université catholique de São Paulo (PUC/SP). Cette décision surprend profondément toutes celles et tous ceux, venant de nombreux pays, qui ont soutenu depuis le départ cette création, mais aussi toutes celles et tous ceux qui, dans l’Université catholique de São Paulo, ont travaillé vigoureusement en ce sens.

Lors du 7e Colloque international Michel Foucault d’octobre 2011, qui avait réuni à la PUC/SP plusieurs dizaines de spécialistes de l’œuvre de ce penseur et des centaines d’auditeurs, une lettre avait été signée en soutien à cette initiative. La liste des signataires comprenait des membres du Collège international de philosophie (Paris), de l’Université Paris 8, de l’Université Bordeaux Montaigne, de l’Université nouvelle de Lisbonne, de l’Université Complutense de Madrid, de l’École normale supérieure de Paris, de l’Université San Martin en Argentine, de l’Université de los Andes au Venezuela et de l’Université de Valparaiso. L’initiative avait reçu également le soutien actif du Consulat général de France à São Paulo. La même année, la PUC/SP avait obtenu une copie des archives sonores des cours de Foucault fournie par le Collège de France, devenant ainsi la seule institution hors de France à pouvoir y donner un accès au public. Des séances d’études, des séminaires, des débats sur des livres ont ensuite été organisés comme travail préparatoire pour la création de la Chaire, suscitant des attentes et un enthousiasme grandissants.

Le refus émis désormais désavoue les instances scientifiques, philosophiques et pédagogiques de la PUC/SP qui ont approuvé l’initiative. La « liberté académique », au fondement de la vie universitaire, est ainsi bafouée. Pourtant, on sait que l’intérêt porté dans le monde entier à l’œuvre de Foucault va bien au-delà des croyances religieuses et que maints penseurs catholiques ont écrit sur elle et s’en ont inspirés. Ainsi, à Paris, quand il a été question que les archives Foucault partent à l’étranger, les dominicains de la Bibliothèque du Saulchoir ont hébergé ces archives, permettant qu’elles restent en France à l’endroit où Foucault avait l’habitude travailler des heures entières. Cette bibliothèque, relevant de la tradition catholique la plus incontestable et non moins largement ouverte à tous les intellectuels parisiens ou de passage à Paris, accueille régulièrement des présentations et discussions de livres. Par ailleurs, de nombreuses études actuelles portent sur l’apport de Foucault aux études sur le premier christianisme et son enracinement dans la culture antique, particulièrement stoïcienne. C’est là une lucidité historique, complémentaire des études de l’historien anglo-saxon Peter Brown, de quoi tous les étudiants et enseignants des premiers siècles de notre ère ont profité et profiteront encore. On note également que l’œuvre de Foucault après Les Mots et les choses est fortement inspirée par un principe de compassion et dédiée à la gouvernementalité, une question qui transformerait la modalité des relations humaines et leur intime connexion avec le droit. Ce sont des raisons de plus pour exprimer notre surprise face à cette décision.

Cette chaire, portant le nom de Michel Foucault et lui rendant un légitime hommage n’est pas dédiée à la lecture de ses écrits – qui sont maintenant partie de la culture classique. Elle se dit dans son intitulé explicitement tournée (sur l’impulsion non exclusive de ses travaux) à une libre analyse, information et débat des questions de philosophie et de vie civile contemporaines. Le refus d’une telle chaire, ouverte sur l’actualité, contredit à la déontologie universitaire autant qu’à son fondement. L’Université en serait la première victime. Au-delà des enseignants, étudiants et chercheurs, l’opinion publique brésilienne s’en est ému. Nous témoignons de sa protestation. Cependant, tous gardent l’espoir que le Conseil des évêques renoncera à exercer cette forme de censure et reviendra finalement sur son refus. La direction académique de la PUC/SP a fait appel de la décision. Désormais, c’est à la communauté internationale de montrer, qu’elle aussi, soutient la création de la Chaire « Michel Foucault et la philosophie du présent ». C’est ce que faisaient déjà les signataires de la lettre de soutien d’octobre 2011, qui invitaient toutes celles et ceux qui restent attachés au libre exercice de la pensée à se joindre à eux.

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20th Century Continental Philosophy Ph.D. Programs

Editor’s note: This is a very new project which has just gone up on the web. Contributions are invited!

This wiki’s goal is to provide an unranked yet searchable list of Ph.D. (and terminal M.A.) programs that have strengths in 20th (and early 21st) century continental philosophy throughout the world. To meet this goal, all readers should also think of themselves as editors. If you see anything that needs to be changed or added, please do so.

This wiki is part of a larger wikiproject to help prospective graduate students in philosophy identify programs with strengths in their areas of interest. Ideally links will be provided to the websites, CVs, and PhilPapers profiles of the relevant faculty at each program. If faculty are unable to take on new students, they should be omitted from this wiki. The wiki’s primary intended audience is prospective or current graduate students with interests in 20th century continental philosophy who want to get the lay of the land by seeing who works where, and on what.

This wiki is very much under construction. Many programs and faculty members that should be listed here are not yet here–simply because this wiki was started almost from scratch quite recently. If you can, please pitch in. Still, there is already much information here. So take a look.

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Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought Launches

New Center Will Be Directed By Critical Thought Professor Bernard E. Harcourt, Who Has Challenged Conventional Wisdom on Practices including Mass Incarceration, Free Market Economics, Broken Windows Policing, and Racial Profiling

Media Contact: Public Affairs, 212-854-2650 or publicaffairs@law.columbia.edu

New York, October 7, 2014—The roots of critical thought go back at least to French Renaissance writer Michel de Montaigne, but a new Columbia Law School and Faculty of Arts and Sciences initiative will apply the age-old interdisciplinary approach to a host of modern issues, including the use of surveillance as a mode of government power in the age of Big Data.

The initiative, launched this fall by Columbia Law School Professor Bernard E. Harcourt, is called the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought and will bring together scholars and students who are engaged in developing novel ways of understanding how legal and scientific knowledge is produced and organized.

Embraced by philosophers ranging from Nietzsche, Freud, and Marx to Michel Foucault, critical thought takes place at the intersection of law, social sciences, and the humanities.

Harcourt, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law joined the Columbia Law School faculty in July. He describes critical thought as a “logic of suspicion” that attempts to dismantle commonly held beliefs by demonstrating how they have been constructed over time. In his own work, Harcourt has used critical thought and empirical data to argue against racial profiling, broken windows policing, and mass incarceration, to question free market economics, to reexamine asylums and institutionalization in this country and abroad, and to explore the idea of political disobedience. His latest work, including a book forthcoming in 2015, critically examines government and corporate surveillance in the context of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter—or what he calls “digital security” and its effects on governing, exchanging, and policing.

“The mission of the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought is to nourish, explore, encourage, and support critical reexamination of the received wisdom of our time,” Harcourt said. “The task of contemporary critical thought is to question and challenge the authority of established truths and falsehoods, to challenge their empirical foundations, and to engage in forms of practice that test the limits of knowledge.”

Under Harcourt’s direction, the center will provide opportunities for students to analyze how critical thought can be applied to real-world scenarios. Next semester, Harcourt and University of Chicago Professor W.J.T. Mitchell will co-teach Spectacle and Surveillance, a seminar that will examine surveillance in a time of near-total information storage and retrieval. The course is partially funded by a grant from the Mellon Centre for Disciplinary Innovation.

The center also will host short-term seminars with renowned contemporary theorists, sponsor lectures and workshops, organize book events and colloquia, and create a reading group for faculty members and graduate students across Columbia University. The first one-week seminar will take place in November with François Robert Ewald, the recently retired chair of insurance studies at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (Paris) and Foucault’s primary assistant from 1976 to 1984. A spring seminar will feature Renata Salecl, a philosopher whose recent work has focused on the anxiety produced by choice.

Another dimension of the center will allow students to participate actively in litigation and policy initiatives addressing such criminal justice practices as capital punishment and prison terms of life imprisonment without parole, with the goal of tying practice to critical thought.

“Critical thought bridges philosophy, political theory, sociology and social theory, anthropology, classics, law, art criticism, and cultural studies,” Harcourt said. “It represents an epistemological approach that is reflected in a wide range of disciplines and approaches.”

Harcourt is the author of several books, including Occupy: Three Inquiries in Disobedience with Michael Taussig and W.J.T. Mitchell (University of Chicago Press 2013) and The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order (Harvard University Press 2011). He is also the editor of Foucault’s 1973 Collège de France lectures, La Société punitive (Gallimard 2013) and co-editor of Foucault’s 1981 Louvain lectures, Wrong-Doing, Truth-Telling (University of Chicago Press 2014). His scholarship has examined the sociology of punishment and penal law and procedure, including through pioneering empirical research on asylums and prisons. In addition to his work as a scholar, Harcourt represents death row inmates pro bono and has served on human rights missions in South Africa and Guatemala.

Before joining Columbia Law School, Harcourt served as the Julius Kreeger Professor of Law and Political Science at The University of Chicago, where he was the chairman of the political science department. He also holds a chair at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris.

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Foucault News editorial comment: I was interested by the opening sentence of this piece in The Guardian and my thought was that Foucault actually should be brought precisely into these kind of arenas. I have observed that practitioners can really benefit from engaging with Foucault’s ideas and have their ideas about their professional practice considerably broadened. If nothing else, coming to grips with his ideas gives people’s brains a good workout in this era of obsession with brain training. Certainly more productive than endless sudoku in my view!

Stephen Hoare, City Unrulyversity: a pop-up education, theguardian.com, Tuesday 12 November 2013

Anyone expecting rows of eager postgrads critiquing philosopher Michel Foucault will think they have landed on Mars. City Unrulyversity is a new concept in higher education outreach, described as a “pop-up” and based at the Brick Lane offices of digital media company Unruly. Here, no one takes an attendance register and there are no assignments.

“It’s very informal. We pull together couches and bean bags, and you get a beer and crisps,” says Caroline Wiertz, co-founder of City Unrulyversity and reader in marketing at Cass Business School.

Launched at the start of 2013 with a mission to inform, inspire and empower the next generation of Tech City entrepreneurs, City Unrulyversity offers a programme of free, early-evening lectures.

read more

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Announcing a new project.

From the new ‘Between Foucault and Deleuze’ website.

The aim of the “Between Deleuze and Foucault” project is to establish an on-going collaborative and synergistic relationship between Purdue University and the Université de Paris VIII–Vincennes à St. Denis (University of Paris 8, Vincennes-St. Denis) in order to transcribe, translate, and make available online the seminars that the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze gave on Michel Foucault’s work at the University of Paris 8 during the years 1985-1986.

Read more…

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For the full news report see here

The Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) celebrated its relaunch at Kingston University by announcing its new partnership with the Department of Philosophy at the University of Paris 8.

The CRMEP is one of the very few philosophy centres which is focused on European philosophy in English language universities. Most of the staff were previously employed at Middlesex University which controversially closed the Centre down in April 2010.

Also of note here is that Foucault was a founding professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris VIII Vincennes for a year in 1969-70.

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