Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Le Moment philosophique des années 1960 en France, Sous la direction de Patrice Maniglier, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2011


Les années 1960 furent le théâtre de l’un des épisodes les plus brillants de l’histoire de la pensée philosophique en France. Elles s’ouvrirent sur le triomphe public du structuralisme, avec La Pensée sauvage de Lévi-Strauss, se continuèrent par le renouvellement du marxisme proposé par Althusser et de la psychanalyse par Lacan, et s’achevèrent avec une série d’œuvres comme celles de Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida et Lyotard, qui ont décidé du visage de la philosophie contemporaine.

L’héritage de cette période a néanmoins été difficile, suscitant tantôt une fascination mimétique, tantôt un rejet caricatural. Depuis quelques années, les auteurs qui l’ont marquée font individuellement l’objet d’une réception savante plus mesurée et plus profonde, au risque cependant de perdre la dimension collective et transversale qui la caractérisait. Le but de cet ouvrage est de réunir certains des meilleurs spécialistes pour prendre toute la mesure de ce qui a constitué, par son intensité et son ampleur, un « moment philosophique » exceptionnel.

Il offre à la fois une traversée de quatre dimensions transversales (épistémologique, politique, esthétique et philosophique) et une relecture de quatre livres singuliers : La Pensée sauvage de Lévi-Strauss (1962), Lire Le Capital et Pour Marx d’Althusser (1965), les livres de Derrida autour de De la grammatologie (1967), et Discours, Figure de Lyotard (1971). Traversant aussi bien les mathématiques de Bourbaki que la linguistique structurale, l’anthropologie de Lévi-Strauss que la psychanalyse freudienne, le marxisme d’Althusser que celui d’Adorno, le théâtre de Brecht que le cinéma de Godard, ce livre invite à redécouvrir ce moment non pas comme un objet historique à circonscrire, mais comme un mouvement ouvert où se sont décidées certaines des tâches qui nous incombent encore, aujourd’hui.


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Nathan W. Harter, Foucault on Leadership. The Leader as Subject, Routledge, 2016

Michel Foucault, one of the most cited scholars in the social sciences, devoted his last three lectures to a study of leader development. Going back to pagan sources, Foucault found a persistent theme in Hellenistic antiquity that, in order to qualify for leadership, a person must undergo processes of subjectivation, which is simply the way that a person becomes a Subject. From this perspective, an aspiring leader first becomes a Subject who happens to lead. These processes depend on a condition of parresia, which is truth-telling at great risk that is for the edification of the other person. A leader requires a mentor and advisors in order to lead successfully, while also developing the capacity in one’s own mind to heed the truth. In other words, a leader must learn how to guide oneself.

A valuable contribution to the field of leadership studies, this book summarizes these last lectures as they pertain to the study and practice of leadership, emphasizing the role of ethics and truth-telling as a check on power. It then presents several other contexts where these same lessons can be seen in practice, including in the life of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whose career as a writer epitomized speaking truth to power, and somewhat surprisingly in the United States military, in response to its twenty-first century mission of counterinsurgency.

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Richard Niesche, Amanda Keddie, Leadership, Ethics and Schooling for Social Justice, Routledge, 2016


Issues of social justice and equity in the field of educational leadership have become more salient in recent years. The unprecedented diversity, uncertainty and rapid social change of the contemporary global era are generating new and unfamiliar equity questions and challenges for schools and their leaders. In order to understand the moral and ethical complexity of work undertaken in the name of social justice and equity in diverse contexts, this book uses a range of different theoretical tools from the work of Michel Foucault. Rather than a prescriptive, best practice approach to leadership and social justice, this book draws on Foucault’s four-fold ethical framework, and specifically, the notions of advocacy, truth-telling and counter-conduct to critically examine the leadership work undertaken in case studies in schools in Australia and England.

Our approach makes transparent the ethical work that leaders in these contexts conduct on themselves towards creating schools that can address the equity challenges of the present climate. It illuminates and enables critical analysis of the moral imperatives shaping the equity work of school leaders and, in particular, the possibilities for transformative leadership that can work to create schools and school systems that are more socially just.

Overall, the book’s key aims are to:

  • Provide an innovative and comprehensive theorising of leadership for social justice in contemporary times;
  • Explicate the utility of key elements of Foucault’s theorising of the ethical self to the domain of educational leadership; and
  • Provide significant practical insight into the social justice possibilities of school leadership in contemporary times through two in depth case studies


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Denise Mifsud, Foucault and School Leadership Research. Bridging Theory and Method, Bloomsbury Academic, 2017

Extract from the book

Foucault and School Leadership Research illustrates the application of Foucauldian theory to an educational leadership research context, thus staging the ways a researcher negotiates the methodological tensions and contradictions in the conduct of qualitative inquiry within education research.

The book draws on an empirical study of a multi-site school collaborative that investigates relations of power within the unfolding network among the various leadership hierarchies in school governance. The book is anchored around a narrative dramatization that the author, Denise Mifsud, crafts from her data, using the dramatic play as a medium to present her research findings so as to show rather than just tell readers about network leadership dynamics. Mifsud’s innovative use of dramatization to communicate her findings and analysis serves to problematize the representation of qualitative research, as well as to incorporate researcher interpretation and explicate the intertwining nature of theory and methodology. Through the use of Foucauldian theory, mainly his notions of webs of power, discipline, governmentality, discourse, and subjectification, the research narrative critiques and problematizes traditional understandings of educational leadership.

The book focuses on and demonstrates the challenging enterprise of the art of theory application in method by outlining the epistemological, operational and analytical challenges encountered: the application of Foucauldian concepts in education research contexts; the adaptation of methodological and theoretical concerns; in addition to showing how the quality of research outcomes is shaped by social theory.

Table of contents

1. Introduction: Setting the Stage for the Research Narrative
2. Foucauldian Props for Data Interpretation and Representation I
3. Foucauldian Props for Data Interpretation and Representation II
4. Data Analysis Choices and the Crisis of Representation
5. Data Analysis Choices and the Fictional Representation of Narrative
6. Raising the Curtain on Sunnyside College
7. The Performance of Collegiality
8. The Fluidity in the Emerging Relations of Power
9. The Unfolding of Leadership Distribution
10. Bringing Down the Curtain?
11. Presenting Conclusions and Theorisations: The Quasi-Final Stage


“There are now many books about Foucault. This book uses Foucault and takes on the spirit and style of his method to explore the practice of institutional leadership. Drawing on Foucault’s interest in absurdist drama, Mifsud’s study examines some of the dramas of institutional life. In doing so she throws down a challenge to the orthodoxes of qualitative method.” –  Stephen J. Ball FBA, Distinguished Service Professor of Sociology of Education, UCL Institute of Education, UK

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Foucault in Warsaw, Durieux.eu blog, 31 August 2017.

 Le Soir spends ample space on an article by Maya Szymanowska about a new Polish publication by sociologist Remigiusz Ryzinski, ‘Foucault W Warszawie’ (Foucault in Warsaw – no translations yet).

In 1955 Michel Foucault arrives in Uppsala, Sweden, where he will work on his doctoral dissertation. But then in October 1958, he moves to Warsaw, Poland, where he is going to direct the Centre de civilisation française at the local university. There he continues working on the manuscript he will  eventually defend in 1961 in Paris as his so-called ‘principal thesis’. It is published originally as ‘Folie et déraison. Histoire de la folie à l’âge classique’.

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Nina Hoss: ‘The left is in a state of absolute chaos – we have lost our way’
Philip Oltermann in Berlin, The Guardian
Tuesday 4 July 2017 01.16 AEST

 Returning to Reims is at Home, Manchester, 5-14 July, part of the international festival. Michael Lucey’s translation of Didier Eribon’s book is published by Semiotext(e).

When she was a little girl, the German actor used to sit in on her father’s union meetings. Now she’s directing her political fervour into Returning to Reims, a new play by Thomas Ostermeier seeking to explain Trump, Brexit and Le Pen

When Nina Hoss agreed to perform a Manic Street Preachers song with the Welsh alt-rockers at Glastonbury in 2014, she had no idea that the track – Europa Geht Durch Mich (Europe Passes Through Me) – would soon come to sound like a requiem. “It felt like such an optimistic song at the time,” she recalls, “and the crowds were going absolutely wild.”


For this month’s Manchester international festival, the 41-year-old German actor and her collaborators – Berlin Schaubühne director Thomas Ostermeier and Bush Moukarzel, an Irish actor, writer and director – have devised an English-language dramatisation of the memoirs of a French sociologist. The show is a sort of group therapy for liberal Europeans discombobulated by the events of the last 12 months.

Ostermeier told her he was reading Returning to Reims by Didier Eribon, a French sociologist and the celebrated biographer of Michel Foucault. Get hold of a copy as soon as possible, he said. “Reading it opened floodgates inside me,” she recalls, sitting in a shady corner outside the converted 1920s cinema that is now home to the Schaubühne. “It tried to address all the questions we are grappling with. What is going on with this generation of ours? Do we still believe in democracy? If we do, is that belief reawakening or dying? Do we still know how to organise ourselves to have influence on a political scale? And are we really interested and patient enough to get involved – or did we unlearn that in the 90s because we believed our parents had paved us a path to prosperity?”

Originally published in France in 2009, Retour à Reims became a bestseller in Germany last year, partly because it hinted at an explanation for the Brexit vote and Trump earthquakes, as well as the then looming nightmare of a far-right French presidency. It tells the story of the author returning to his hometown for the first time in decades, following the death of his father, only to find that his once staunchly communist family is now more or less openly supportive of the Front National.

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Kelly BulkeleyDark Times and the Powers of Dreaming, Huffpost, 24 August 2017

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about a new book, Dreaming in Dark Times: Six Exercises in Political Thought, by Sharon Sliwinski, a professor at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. Sliwinski approaches dreaming as a powerful resource for political theory and action, especially in times when basic human freedoms are most at risk. That we today are living in such times has become impossible to ignore.

But throughout history, in times of collective crisis, people’s dreams have often responded with a surge of imagery, emotion, and insight that help people respond more effectively and creatively to the pressing challenges facing their group in waking life. This is also true in the modern era, as Sliwinski’s fascinating and beautifully written book makes clear.

As she explores the political sociology of the dreaming imagination, Sliwinski’s main guides are Sigmund Freud (as interpreted by Michel Foucault) and Hannah Arendt. It is the deep dive into Arendt’s philosophy that gives Dreaming in Dark Times its inspiring vision and potent timeliness. Arendt was a twentieth-century political theorist born in Germany who fled the Holocaust in World War II and lived in the United States until her death in 1975. Her writings focused on such topics as totalitarianism, freedom, authority, and revolution.

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