Archive for December, 2012

Best wishes for the festive season from Foucault News!

You can purchase the Christmas stocking below from Cafe Press.



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Below John Protevi on the New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science blog

For other comments on the subject of gun control in the USA also referring to Foucault, see also post by Firmin DeBrabander on The New York Times opinion pages.

A Foucaultian analysis of framing gun violence as a public health issue

Doug Henwood, author of the wonderful book Wall Street, editor of the Left Business Observer, and blogger at LBO-News, recently broadcast a phone interview with Mark Ames,  author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond, on the history of rampage killings, up to and including the Newtown massacre. Toward the end of the interview Henwood claims that right wing anti-gun control fits explicitly into their coherent political philosophy of competitive / possessive individualism, but that neoliberal Democrats can’t admit their neoliberalism (that is, their own competitive individualism) and so flounder about looking for a rationale for their gun control efforts.

The mention of neoliberalism reminded me that a week or two ago I briefly discussed Bernard Harcourt’s seminar in which François Ewald, alongside Gary Becker himself, discussed Foucault’s reading of Becker’s human capital theory. Ewald is a specialist in social risk management and has written extensively on the history of insurance in France.

Bringing the two together I’m going to try to work out a Foucaultian reading of the strategy in which Democrats pose gun-control legislation under the rubric of handling public health or public safety risks.


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See earlier post for details as well as this additional lecture on biopolitics and sovereignty.

With thanks to Dirk Felleman for this link

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Bronwyn Davies, Jane Speedy, Who was Pierre Rivière? Introduction to the special issue, Emotion, Space and Society, Available online 22 April 2012

Further info
Table of contents for special issue

Foucault’s (1975) edited book, I, Pierre Rivière, having slaughtered my mother, my sister and my brother… A case of parricide in the 19th century, includes the court documents and newspaper reports from the 1835 trial of Pierre Rivière, Pierre Rivière’s memoir written while in prison, and the “analytic notes” written by Foucault and his colleagues. Whereas the court focused on the question of whether Pierre Rivière was of sane mind or not, Foucault and his colleagues sought to avoid the closure that such categorical thinking invites the reader into. This paper introduces the story of Pierre Rivière, and opens up some of the questions to be addressed in this special issue. The papers examine the memoir, the accompanying documents, and Foucault’s and his colleagues’ take on them, and reopen discussion of the Pierre Rivière case and its contemporary twenty-first century relevance, using a combination of both philosophical ethnography and arts-based enquiry. These contemporary papers are based upon a series of interdisciplinary workshops and seminars that took place at the University of Bristol during 2010. In this introductory paper we ask what was the emotional geography of this young man who engaged in such an unthinkable act? And how did that geography intersect with the emotional geography of his village in France in 1835, and what does it still have to tell us about our own contemporary society?

Pierre Rivière; Foucault, Parricide, Madness; Arts-based social science; Narrative enquiry

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Lectureship in French Philosophy, King’s College London

The Department of French and the Department of Philosophy of King’s College London wish to make the joint appointment of a Lecturer in French Philosophy, starting in September 2013. We are seeking an outstanding philosopher with research expertise and teaching experience in French philosophy, broadly conceived, but with preference for specialism in the area of 20th-century French phenomenology and existentialism. Candidates working in all areas of French philosophy from the early modern period onward will be fully considered.

The successful applicant will be able to teach undergraduate and postgraduate modules in both the French and the Philosophy departments. S/he will have native or near-native fluency in French. S/he will be expected to contribute to the College’s 2014 REF submission, will make an active contribution to the research culture of the two Departments, and will attract PhD students.

The closing date for receipt of applications is 3 February 2013.

For an informal discussion of the post please contact the Head of the Department of French, Professor Patrick ffrench via patrick.ffrench@kcl.ac.uk, or the Head of the Department of Philosophy, Maria-Rosa Antognazza, via maria.rosa.antognazza@kcl.ac.uk.

The appointment will be made within Grades 6-7, currently £31,020 to £45,486 per annum, plus £2,323 per annum London Allowance.
For an application pack please click here. All correspondence should clearly state the job title and reference number A7/AAF/1286/12-JM. If you have any queries please contact the Recruitment Co-ordinator at recruitmentteam3@kcl.ac.uk.

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Korvela, P.-E. Sources of governmentality: Two notes on Foucault’s lecture, History of the Human Sciences, Volume 25, Issue 4, October 2012, Pages 73-89

Further info

The article scrutinizes Michel Foucault’s interpretation of Machiavelli in his famous lecture on governmentality. Foucault is slightly misguided in his search for the origins of governmentality, the article asserts. Foucault gives credit for the development of what he calls a new art of government to anti-Machiavellian treatises, but also follows those treatises in their distorted interpretation of Machiavelli. Consequently, Foucault’s analysis gets confused and regards as novel those arguments and developments that were essentially of ancient pedigree compared with Machiavelli’s ideas. The article discusses especially two points in Foucault’s interpretation of Machiavelli: Foucault’s insistence on the singularity of the prince in Machiavelli and the importance of territory to Machiavelli. In both of these points Foucault is beside the mark. Foucault’s interpretation inverts the development of an art of government and regards as new those ideas that were fundamentally reactionary vis-à-vis Machiavelli’s ideas. The article suggests that a more viable lead in searching for an art of government might be found from Machiavelli’s writings and the republican experience of the late medieval Italian city-states rather than from the birth of administrative monarchies of the 16th and 17th centuries. Therefore, the article concludes that Foucault is somewhat misled in contextualizing the birth of governmentality, a view which also has some wider implications for the whole framework of governmentality Foucault is trying to develop.

Author keywords
art of government; governmentality; Michel Foucault; Niccolò Machiavelli; territory

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Call for Stream Proposals

London Conference in Critical Thought

Royal Holloway, University of London

June 6th and 7th, 2013

Building on the success of the inaugural conference, the 2013 London Conference in Critical Thought (LCCT) will offer a space for an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas for scholars who work with critical traditions and concerns. It aims to provide opportunities for those who frequently find themselves at the margins of their department or discipline to engage with other scholars who share theoretical approaches and interests. Central to this vision is an inter-institutional, non-hierarchal, and accessible event which makes a particular effort to embrace emergent thought and the participation of emerging academics, fostering new avenues for critically orientated scholarship and collaboration. Coordinated by colleagues from across the University of London, this year’s conference is to be held at Royal Holloway on the 6th and 7th June, 2013.

We now welcome proposals for thematic streams for the 2013 conference. Last year’s conference included streams as diverse as ‘Critical Human Rights’, ‘Radical Political Rhetoric’, ‘Spatial Text’, ‘The Object: between Time and Temporality’, and ‘Deleuzian Theory in Practice’. [Plus stream titled ‘New Foucauldian approaches’] It brought into conversation scholars working in the fields of philosophy, fine art, geography, politics, law, musicology, literature, and many others.

The deadline for stream proposals is the 20th of January, 2013. Stream proposals should include abstracts or descriptions that seek to stimulate a range of cross-disciplinary responses. A later call for papers (in early February) will seek proposals for presentations suited to the accepted conference streams, as well as paper proposals for inclusion in a general stream. Given the collaborative nature of the conference, stream convenors will have input into and take a hand in the coordination of the conference.

Please send stream proposals tolondoncriticalconference@gmail.com. Details of last year’s conference (including previous streams and papers) can be found on the LCCT website.


Email: londoncriticalconference@gmail.com Twitter: @LondonCritical

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