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Update on the Foucault 13/13 series

First seminar on youtube

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Update on the Foucault 13/13 series

Foucault 2/13: The Live Stream –28/09/15 at 6:15 EST (2015). Broadcasting from New York

The live stream has now been posted as recorded content.

Etienne Balibar and François Ewald discuss Foucault’s second annual lectures at the Collège de France, Penal Theories and Institutions (1971-1972) TODAY at 6:15 EST.  Please tune in here for the live-stream.  Please also read the introductory posts presenting the lectures along with the posts by Etienne Balibar and François Ewald, and the framing essays by Velasco and Harcourt. Readings for the seminar here.  Logistics for the seminar and LST room here. Check back later this week for additional essays on these 1972 lectures. Welcome to Foucault 2/13!

You can also find this on youtube

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Jessica Whyte on Michel Foucault and ‘the right to intervene’

Audio of talk on the Foucault-Blog

Last year Jessica Whyte from the University of Western Sydney was a visiting scholar at the Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens in Zurich. On October 22, she held a lecture on “A Right of Private Individuals or a Responsibility of States? Michel Foucault and the Right to Intervene”, in which she talked about Foucault’s thoughts on the Iranian Revolution, neoliberal economic policies, the politics of human rights and much more.

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Why Do We Take Selfies? – 8-Bit Philosophy
by Wisecrack

“Wisecrack is a Los Angeles-based media collective run by comedians, academics, filmmakers and artists who are endlessly curious about the world around us. Their channel explores great topics in ways that make them fun, engaging and unexpected.”

This video is essentially about Foucault’s work.

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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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Michel Foucault and the philosophy of punishment, Talking history, Panel discussion, 29 November 2014 Newstalk radio 106-108FM. Irish radio station

Page includes audio podcast.

The philosophy of punishment is an area of study that is relatively unaddressed and certainly does not resonate in the wider public consciousness.

The work of Michel Foucault went a long way to shedding further light on the philosophies behind discipline and punishment. This was particularly evident with his work ‘Surveiller et Punir: Naissance de la Prison’ (Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison) published in 1975.

While much study had been conducted in this area prior to Foucault, with this publication, he brought the issue to the fore in the 20th century.

Foucault analysed the development of a culture that resulted in the prison system dominating the area of punishment, as society gradually moved away from the use of torture.

Foucault ultimately suggests that it is the use and subjugation of power that influences an institutions use of punishment. He rejects any notion that the development of this system had been motivated by any humanitarian ideals, or that this philosophy of punishment was initially intended as a form of rehabilitation.

While he does not suggest that this is the result of some grand master plan, he evaluates why it has developed in this manner and how this relates to society on a larger scale.

read more

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Partha Chatterjee, Governmentality in the East, lecture delivered 27 April, 2015, at the University of California, Berkeley.

There is a complete audio of the lecture on the site (Program in Critical Theory)

Foucault’s genealogy of governmentality as described in Security, Territory, Population is entirely West European. What would a genealogy of modern state practices look like in a former colonial country in Asia?

Looking at India, one finds that early governmental practices, including those of rational bureaucracy, rule of law and the knowledge of populations, were motivated mainly by raison d’État: it was the creation and maintenance of the sovereign power of British colonial authority that was the objective. In the 19th century, notions of liberal governmentality were introduced by officials influenced by utilitarian ideas to make Indian society the target of policy in order to improve productivity as well as morality. Indian nationalists in the 20th century rejected colonial governmentality and demanded full rights of sovereignty over the state. However, the postcolonial state retained the colonial apparatus of security based on raison d’État while expanding liberal governmentality to include an agenda of welfare of the people. In the more recent period, the spread of governmentality alongside the politics of electoral representation has produced in India forms of claim-making and resistance that go well beyond Foucault’s framework. (Chatterjee)

Partha Chatterjee is a political theorist and historian. He divides his time between Columbia University and the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, where he was the Director from 1997 to 2007. He is the author of more than twenty books, monographs and edited volumes and is a founding member of the Subaltern Studies Collective. He as awarded the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize for 2009 for outstanding achievements in the field of Asian studies. His books include: The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power (2012), Lineages of Political Society: Studies in Postcolonial Democracy (2011), The Politics of the Governed: Considerations on Political Society in Most of the World (2004); A Princely Impostor? The Strange and Universal History of the Kumar of Bhawal (2002); The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (1993), and Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse? (1993).

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