Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

An Interview with Elizabeth Grosz, Theory Culture and Society, 22 May 2017

The Incorporeal’: An Interview with Elizabeth Grosz
Elizabeth Grosz & Vikki Bell
March 2017

VB: Many congratulations on the publication of your new book The Incorporeal: Ontology, Ethics and the Limits of Materialism (Columbia University Press, 2017). The book seems to simultaneously explore a genealogy of a concept ‘the incorporeal’ while also proposing it as a concept that has both explanatory power and ethical promise. I wonder if there is a debate that is un- or under-described here but that drives the desire to explore the incorporeal and these thinkers, since genealogy in both Nietzsche and Foucault’s sense is always a purposive endeavour. Which positions are you taking a stance against, or which oversights are you seeking to correct?

EG: I wouldn’t say that it is a corrective particularly, though there are a number of positions that describe themselves as materialist that I think are problematic and would disagree with. A genealogy – an exploration of sources and sites often unrecognized or unknown – is a way of reviving things that either we have forgotten or that were never developed, elaborated or perhaps even born, things that were stillborn or fragmented. I was seeking something positive rather than undertaking a critique, implicit or explicit. From a commitment to materialism, I was interested in how to address certain questions that were reductively posited within materialisms (after all, there is no one form of materialism, but many, some conflicting with others) or not addressed at all – questions linked to explaining thinking and experience, language or representation more generally, and the self-evident immaterial conditions of materiality, such as space and time. If materialism(s) cannot account for the immaterial events we experience and articulate, then it has a clear limit that it needs to address. I see my work as an expansion of materialism more than a critique of it, though I suspect that the book may be considered idealist in the opinion of some. I am looking for an account of being-becoming that can explain the existence of incorporeal things and events – and most especially how thinking is possible, what it is, how it relates to the brain, or doesn’t, how it capable of being understood beyond any reductionism.

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Biancamaria Fontana, Would you mind imprisoning my wife? Times Literary Supplement, May 17, 2017

Review of Arlette Farge and Michel Foucault, Disorderly Families. Infamous letters from the Bastille archives. Edited by Nancy Luxon. Translated by Thomas Scott-Railton 344pp. University of Minnesota Press. $35.

Imagine living in a country where your domestic conflicts could be solved by having persons troublesome to you swiftly and legally arrested and taken away. You would simply address your grievances to some sympathetic public official, and your obstreperous spouse, eccentric mother-in-law or delinquent son could be discreetly moved out of your life to be detained indefinitely in some suitable institution at the king’s pleasure. In the late 1970s Michel Foucault took a break from writing his History of Sexuality to work on an edition of the intriguing set of letters he had come upon while researching in the Bastille archives. The letters, dating from the first half of the eighteenth century, were addressed to the lieutenant of police (and indirectly to the king) by people who requested imprisonment for some member of their own family by means of a lettre de cachet, the special royal order that bypassed normal legal procedures.

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Peter Triantafillou, Neoliberal power and public management reforms, Manchester University Press, April 2017

This book examines the links between major contemporary public sector reforms and neoliberal thinking. The key contribution of the book is to enhance our understanding of contemporary neoliberalism as it plays out in the public administration and to provide a critical analysis of generally overlooked aspects of administrative power. The book examines the quest for accountability, credibility and evidence in the public sector. It asks whether this quest may be understood in terms of neoliberal thinking and, if so, how? The book makes the argument that while current administrative reforms are informed by several distinct political rationalities, they evolve above all around a particular form of neoliberalism: constructivist neoliberalism. The book analyses the dangers of the kinds of administrative power seeking to invoke the self-steering capacities of society and administration itself.

Peter Triantafillou is Professor in Public Policy and Performance Management at the Department of Social Sciences and Business at Roskilde University

1. Introduction
2. Critical approaches to public administration and management
3. Neoliberalism: Epistemological finitude or infinite freedom?
4. Accountability: The reflection and expansion of government?
5. Democratic accountability and the institutionalisation of performance auditing
6. Accreditation: The ultimate technique for governing government?
7. Evidence-based policymaking: Towards epistemological infinitude?
8. A new civil-servant persona?
9. Conclusion

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Richard Lee, Laurent Binet: ‘I’ll vote Macron, but I hate having to do it’. The Guardian, 5 May 2017

The Frenchman’s novel about the blurred line between fiction and reality, The 7th Function of Language, is all the more poignant in the era of Trump, Le Pen and fake news.

His latest novel, The 7th Function of Language (translated by Sam Taylor), is another historical thriller circling the same questions, but approaching them from the opposite direction.

“It’s two faces of the same obsession, which is the complicated relationship between reality and fiction,” says Binet. “In HHhH I wanted to search for historical truth and in this one it was much more playful. I wanted to have fun and to twist the rope of truth until it broke.”

From Paris to Bologna, Venice to New York, they uncover an international conspiracy and a secret society that could have been drawn from the pages of a novel by Umberto Eco. The Italian philosopher indeed appears as an avuncular mastermind alongside larger-than-life versions of the stars of 1980s literary theory and philosophy. We encounter Michel Foucault tangling with a gigolo in a gay sauna, Gilles Deleuze watching tennis in an apartment that smells of philosophy and stale tobacco, Julia Kristeva in league with the Bulgarian secret police.

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Edited by Philippe Bonditti, Didier Bigo et Frédéric Gros, Foucault and the Modern International. Silences and Legacies for the Study of World Politics, Palgrave MacMillan, 2017

This book addresses the possibilities of analyzing the modern international through the thought of Michel Foucault. The broad range of authors brought together in this volume question four of the most self-evident characteristics of our contemporary world-‘international’, ‘neoliberal’, ‘biopolitical’ and ‘global’- and thus fill significant gaps in both international and Foucault studies.

The chapters discuss what a Foucauldian perspective does or does not offer for understanding international phenomena while also questioning many appropriations of Foucault’s work.

This transdisciplinary volume will serve as a reference for both scholars and students of international relations, international political sociology, international political economy, political theory/philosophy and critical theory more generally.

Philippe Bonditti holds a doctorate in Political Science from Sciences Po Paris, France, and is currently Lecturer at the European School of Political and Social Science (ESPOL-UCL), France. Previously, he was Assistant Professor at the Institute of International Relations of the Pontificial Universidade Catholica in Rio de Janeiro (IRI/PUC-Rio), Brazil, and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Watson Institute, Brown University, US. His research interests focus on contemporary discourses on violence, war, and security, the transformations of the modern state and the art of government, (critical) International Relations theory, (critical) security studies, contemporary French philosophy, and political theory.

Didier Bigo is Associate Professor (tenure) at Sciences-Po, France and Professor of International Relations at Kings College London, UK. Bigo is Editor-in-Chief of the French quarterly journal Cultures & Conflits and launched, with R. B. J. Walker, the journal International Political Sociology. His research interests include security and liberty, biometrics identifiers and databases, antiterrorist policies in Europe after 9/11, the merging of internal security and external security, migrants and refugees in Europe, critical security studies, and international political sociology.

Frédéric Gros is Professor of Philosophy at Sciences Po Paris, France. His research focuses on contemporary French philosophy—in particular the thought of Michel Foucault, whose writings, such as Subjectivity and Truth, he has edited—the foundations of the right to punish, issues of war and security, and the ethics of the political subject.

Table des matières
1. Introduction : The International as an Object for Thought, by Philippe Bonditti…..Pages 1-12

2. The Figure of Foucault and the Field of International Relations, by Nicholas Onuf…..Pages 15-31
3. Michel Foucault and International Relations : Cannibal Relations, by Didier Bigo…..Pages 33-55
4. The Microphysics of Power Redux, by William Walters…..Pages 57-75
5. Political Spirituality: Parrhesia, Truth and Factical Finitude, by Michael Dillon…..Pages 79-96
6. Power as Sumbolon: Sovereignty, Governmentality and the International, by Mitchell Dean…..Pages 97-114
7. Foucault and Method, by Michael J. Shapiro…..Pages 115-134
8. Silencing Colonialism: Foucault and the International, by Marta Fernández…..Pages 137-153
9. Violence and the Modern International: An Archaeology of Terrorism, by Philippe Bonditti…..Pages 155-173
10. Foucault and the Historical Sociology of Globalization, by Jean-François Bayart…..Pages 175-188
11. On Liberalism: Limits, the Market and the Subject, by Frédéric Gros…..Pages 191-201
12. On Bureaucratic Formalization: The Reality-Like Fiction of Neoliberal Abstractions, by Béatrice Hibou…..Pages 203-218
13. Too-Late Liberalism: From Promised Prosperity to Permanent Austerity, by Laurence McFalls…..Pages 219-235
14. Biopolitics in the Twenty-First Century: The Malthus–Marx Debate and the Human Capital Issue, by Luca Paltrinieri…..Pages 239-259
15. Mesopolitics: Foucault, Environmental Governmentality and the History of the Anthropocene by Ferhat Taylan…..Pages 261-273
16. The Word and the Things: An Archaeology of an Amnesic Notion, by Armand Mattelart…..Pages 277-294
17. Foucault and Geometrics, by Stuart Elden…..Pages 295-311

18. Conclusion: Which Foucault ? Which International ?, by R. B. J. Walker…..Pages 313-339

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Fhulufhuwani Hastings Nekhwevha, Freire contra Foucault on Power/Knowledge and Truth Discourses. The Constitution of a Subject for Authentic Educational Praxis in South Africa, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, 2012

This is a partly theoretical and partly historical study whose ‘focus-down’ approach has as a main objective a detailed comparative dissection of Freire and Foucault’s conceptions of knowledge, power, truth and the subject for authentic educational praxis and the implication these have for the practice of education for liberation in South Africa. The core argument in the study is that despite the existence of some points of convergence between Freire and Foucault’s projects, for instance, the similarity between Freire’s concern for the cultural experience of the learner and Foucault’s view that marginalised local knowledge need to be rescued from subjugation, Foucault’s notion of power does not allow for liberatory education praxis. Only the pedagogy of knowing within the Freirian mould with its emphasis on dialogue and conscientisation makes liberatory praxis in education possible. Hence it is argued in this study that the most suitable framework to illuminate these processes would necessarily combine Giddens and Thompson’s concept of ideology critique and Habermas’ notion of communicative action for purposes of ensuring dialogical action for freedom to take place.

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Rodrigo Cordero, Crisis and Critique: On the Fragile Foundations of Social Life. Routledge, 2017

Fragility is a condition that inhabits the foundations of social life. It remains mostly unnoticed until something breaks and dislocates the sense of completion. In such moments of rupture, the social world reveals the stuff of which it is made and how it actually works; it opens itself to question.

Based on this claim, this book reconsiders the place of the notions of crisis and critique as fundamental means to grasp the fragile condition of the social and challenges the normalization and dissolution of these ‘concepts’ in contemporary social theory. It draws on fundamental insights from Hegel, Marx, and Adorno as to recover the importance of the critique of concepts for the critique of society, and engages in a series of studies on the work of Habermas, Koselleck, Arendt, and Foucault as to consider anew the relationship of crisis and critique as immanent to the political and economic forms of modernity.

Moving from crisis to critique and from critique to crisis, the book shows that fragility is a price to be paid for accepting the relational constitution of the social world as a human domain without secure foundations, but also for wishing to break free from all attempts at giving closure to social life as an identity without question. This book will engage students of sociology, political theory and social philosophy alike.

Table of Contents


Part I. Sociology of crisis/Critique of sociology

1. The critique of crisis

2. The crisis of critique

Part II. Models of crisis/Forms of critique

3. Diremptions of social life: Bringing capitalist crisis and social critique back together —Jürgen Habermas

4. The non-closure of human history: Misfortunes of social critique and the political foundations of concepts —Reinhart Koselleck

Part III. Fragile foundations/Political struggles

5. The fragile world in-between: Totalitarian destruction and the modesty of critical thought —Hannah Arendt

6. Making things more fragile: The persistence of crisis and the neoliberal disorder of things —Michel Foucault


Decoding social hieroglyphics: Notes on the philosophical actuality of sociology
—Theodor Adorno

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