Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Colin Gordon, Review Article: The Cambridge Foucault Lexicon, History of the Human Sciences 2016, Vol. 29(3) 91–110

Also on academia.edu

Leonard Lawlor and John Nale (eds) The Cambridge Foucault Lexicon. New York:Cambridge University Press, 2014. 741 pp. £99.99. ISBN: 9780521119214 (hbk)

This big and potentially influential volume is one sign among others of Michel Foucault’s ongoing elevation to classic status within the history of recent thought. The publishers say that the 117 entries in this volume are written by ‘the world’s leading scholars inFoucault’s thought’. Some of the 72 contributors certainly fit that billing. Alongside many established experts, there are also younger scholars whose renown lies, hopefully, in the near future; this mix gives a range of generational perspectives which is to be welcomed.The contributors are comprised overwhelmingly of philosophers working in the USA and Canada, plus a handful from western Europe, and two Australians. Foucault’s creative impact has long extended across a far wider global and intellectual community than is adequately represented here. The mass presence of philosophers doubtless reflects the commercial fact that academic reference works targeted at the university library market generally need a definite primary departmental focus. Nevertheless, it is a pity that a few more contributions have not been provided to this lexicon by some of those academics based in geography,history,politics,criminology,sociology,anthropology or classics who have engaged with, used or tested Foucault in their fields.This might have also diminished a tendency, perhaps compounded by the legacy of a past generation of commentaries focused on Foucault’s earlier books, to produce an overall emphasis which underplays Foucault’s public and political engagements.

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ecologiesA review of Projective Ecologies, edited by Chris Reed and Nina-Marie Lister. 2014. ISBN: 1940291127. ACTAR, Harvard Graduate School of Design. 314 pages. Buy the book.

Review by Anne Trumble

Several months ago, I reviewed Landscape Imagination, a collection of essays by James Corner, a professor at University of Pennsylvania and the landscape architect who designed New York City’s celebrated High Line. Composed over twenty years, his essays examine the many factors hindering the advancement of the cultural medium of landscape. One factor Corner repeatedly addresses is the hoary old dichotomy between nature and culture still pervasive in landscape architecture—the belief in a pristine nature separate from humans.


Projective Ecologies aims to recover a critical sense of ecology for the design professions because they operate at the intersection of nature and culture—particularly landscape architecture, since its medium holds unique environmental, social, and existential opportunities and responsibilities. Emerging from a multi-year research initiative at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Reed and Lister drew on Foucault’s The Archaeology of Knowledge to present three “parallel genealogies,” or intellectual traditions, dealing with the concept of ecology: natural sciences, the humanities, and design.

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Robert Maggiori, Bouveresse, Opération Vérité, Libération, 12 février 2016

Jacques Bouveresse, Nietzsche contre Foucault. Sur la vérité, la connaissance et le pouvoir Avant-propos de Benoît Gaultier et Jean-Jacques Rosat, Agone, 2016 148 pp., 18 €.

Une analyse serrée de la pensée de Foucault et de sa lecture de Nietzsche.

Rien ne peut effacer la dette que l’on doit à Michel Foucault. Parce qu’il a permis qu’on apprenne «une quantité de choses nouvelles et essentielles sur certaines de nos institutions et de nos pratiques», et«montré l’exemple dans la lutte contre ce qu’elles peuvent avoir d’inacceptable et d’inhumain». Parce qu’il a appelé à «regarder constamment de près les réalités historiques, sociales et culturelles elles-mêmes, plutôt que les représentations qu’en construisent les philosophes». Parce qu’il a souligné une «série de dangers» guettant la démocratie libérale et mis en garde contre l’abandon de toute«dissidence» de la part du «milieu intellectuel». Celui qui témoigne de cette «reconnaissance» n’est pas un «thuriféraire» de Foucault. C’est un de ses pairs, professeur comme lui au Collège de France, détenteur jusqu’en 2010 de la chaire de «Philosophie du langage et de la connaissance», le spécialiste incontesté de Wittgenstein et du positivisme logique, de Gottlob Frege, Rudolf Carnap, Bertrand Russell, ou d’écrivains tels que Robert Musil ou Karl Kraus, un penseur rationaliste, à qui l’on doit d’avoir introduit en France la philosophie du langage anglo-saxonne, la philosophie analytique : Jacques Bouveresse.


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David Garland, Bars and stripes. Review of The Punitive Society. The Times Literary Supplement, 27 January 2016.

The thinking and rethinking that led Michel Foucault to write his finest book.

Le Collège de France, founded in 1530 and located in Paris’s Latin Quarter, is one of France’s elite institutions. It is a public institution of higher education but it enrols no students and grants no degrees. Instead, it requires its professors to give an annual course of lectures – free of charge and open to all – reporting on their on­going research. Michel Foucault, who was admitted to the Collège in 1970 as professor of “The History of Systems of Thought”, took this obligation very seriously, preparing his lectures with exquisite care and presenting them to a packed amphitheatre at 5:45 pm each Wednesday from January to March. His lectures were intense, austere performances. Reading aloud from his prepared text, he made little concession to the oral form, refraining from informality and permitting himself a minimum of levity or improvisation. For ninety minutes at a time, he would set out historico-philosophical questions, summarize his archival findings, and outline explanatory hypotheses, speaking to his hundreds of auditors – many of whom were academic tourists come to hear the famous maître penseur – as if he were addressing a small group of fellow specialists. He evidently regarded these lectures as a specific kind of production: not working drafts, not thinking aloud but a completed scholarly performance of a certain kind. And indeed, mimeographed transcripts of lecture recordings soon circulated, samizdat-style, bringing the first results of Foucault’s new thinking to eager audiences in France and abroad.

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Behrouz Ghamari – Foucault, Spirituality, And The Perils Of Universal History, Paper delivered at the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism, July 2015
mp3 for download

Response by Jorge Daniel Vásquez and Megan Eardley

The beginning of Friday’s session was marked by a radical commitment to putting the analysis of religion within a framework that addresses “happiness” in its political and revolutionary dimensions. Behrooz Ghamari raised questions concerning limits and the moving boundaries between history and memory as he reflected on his experience as part of the organizational process of the Iranian Revolution. Addressing the personal interest that Michel Foucault had in Shiite Islam (its rituals and legal practices) and his theoretical writing on the revolution in Iran (1978-1979), Ghamari argued that Foucault’s readers need to understand the characteristic ambiguity of the political process alongside an analysis of revolutionary religious expression. He reveals a Foucault for whom religion is a space in which the popular imagination is formed— both in the policy of the Iranian Revolution and in the Carter administration in the United States. The ambiguity that is engendered by revolutionary religious claims may open a space through and in which teleological thinking might be transgressed.

Foucault arrived in Iran a week after the “Black Friday” massacre, when even the death of more than two hundred protestors, shot down from helicopters, could not stop people from their revolution. Foucault’s presence in Iran can serve as an anchor for understanding his thinking about the history and the subject (i.e. the history of the present – its reinvention, the ambiguity that it produces) that is configured through a political spirituality: the subject is ‘entirely’ wrapped in a History that is not determined, but becomes a particular form of self-production, keeping the subject in a constant search for that is worth defending even beyond one’s own life. Thus, the analysis of the ‘politics of spirituality’ is located far from the reduction of revolutionary religious expression to an “archaic fascism.” On the contrary, it gives way to an important analytical challenge; to consider the religious-political phenomenon in its completely modern sense (reflecting on the relationship between different spheres in which the subject is produced). This analytical move allows Ghamari to return to questions surrounding the murder of the cartoonists of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and the “Arab Spring” beyond the Manichaeism of the freedom of expression as universalized value or Enlightened anti-Islam. To take the analysis further, we might echo some of the questions raised in the debate.

In the global geopolitical context, to what extent is the analysis of the Arab Spring articulated in the same terms as Foucault’s analysis of the Iranian Revolution? What is the relationship between the specter (the ghost of the Iranian Revolution) and the ways we engage with revolution as either as a rupturing event or as an inheritance? Another entry would be to think about Foucault and the Iranian Revolution alongside the way Susan Buck-Morss thinks about the abstraction of the Haitian Revolution in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.

The talk also opened possibilities of imagining a confluence of political spirituality and a political reading of the eschatological tension of St. Paul’s theology. Is a return to Saint Paul—and the tension between the now and the to-come—an attempt to take us out of the teleological prison of modern thought? What are Foucault’s links with theoretical Orientalism and how can an event like the Iranian Revolution be read not as a ‘break’ in Foucault’s thought but as a radicalization of the project which is manifested in his College de France seminars since 1977?

Jorge Daniel Vásquez Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Ecuador and Megan Eardley Princeton University School of Architecture

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New Issue of Foucault Studies
Number 20: December 2015: Civil Society

All articles open access


 Table of Contents


Editorial PDF
Sverre Raffnsøe et al. 1-3

Special Issue on Civil Society

Introductory Note: Foucault and Civil Society PDF
Miikka Pyykkönen 4-7
Liberalism, Governmentality and Counter-Conduct; An Introduction to Foucauldian Analytics of Liberal Civil Society Notions PDF
Miikka Pyykkönen 8-35
Foucault, Ferguson, and civil society PDF
Samantha Ashenden 36-51
Haunted by the Rebellion of the Poor: Civil Society and the Racialized Problem of the (Non-)economic Subject PDF
Anna Selmeczi 52-75
Civil Society and Biopolitics in Contemporary Russia: The Case of Russian “Daddy-Schools” PDF
Pelle Åberg 76-95
Civil Society Organizations and Care of the Self: An Ethnographic Case Study on Emancipation and Participation in Drug Treatment PDF
Riikka Perälä 96-115

Section in collaboration with Foucault Circle

Introduction PDF
Margaret McLaren, Dianna Taylor 116-121
Foucault’s Fossils: Life Itself and the Return to Nature in Feminist Philosophy PDF
Lynne Huffer 122-141
Foucault, Laughter, and Gendered Normalization PDF
Emily R. Douglas 142-154
Against Totalitarianism: Agamben, Foucault, and the Politics of Critique PDF
C. Heike Schotten 155-179


“Is power always secondary to the economy?” Foucault and Adorno on Power and Exchange PDF
Deborah Cook 180-198
Academic Subjectivities: Governmentality and Self-Development in Higher Education PDF
Fabian Cannizzo 199-217
Technologies of the Other: Renewing ‘empathy’ between Foucault and psychoanalysis. PDF
Andrea Lobb 218-235

Review Symposium

Introduction to Review Symposium: On Government of the Living PDF
Alan Milchman, Alan Rosenberg 236-242
The Christian Art of Being Governed PDF
Colin Gordon 243-265
Foucault’s On the Government of the Living PDF
David Konstan 266-276
“Spiritual Gymnastics”: Reflections on Michel Foucault’s On the Government of the Living 1980 Collège de France lectures PDF
Jeremy Carrette 277-290

Review Essay

Foucault’s Flirt? Neoliberalism, the Left and the Welfare State; a Commentary on La dernière leçon de Michel Foucault and Critiquer Foucault PDF
Magnus Paulsen Hansen 291-306

Book Reviews

Marcelo Hoffman, Foucault and Power: The Influence of Political Engagement on Theories of Power (New York and London: Bloomsbury, 2014), i-ix, 1-221, hb $120.00 (US), ISBN: 9781441180940 PDF
Ben Golder 307-311
Keith Ansell-Pearson (ed.), Nietzsche and Political Thought (New York: NY: Bloomsbury, 2013), 256, $120, ISBN: 978-1-4411-2933-8. PDF
Eric Guzzi 312-316
Warren Montag, Althusser and His Contemporaries: Philosophy’s Perpetual War (Durham: Duke University Press, 2013), 256pp., $23.95 pb ISBN: 978-0-8223-9904-9. PDF
Martin Paul Eve 317-319
Claudio Colaguori (ed.), Security, Life and Death: Governmentality and Biopower in the Post 9/11 Era (Whitby: De Sitter Publications, 2013), $39.00, ISBN: 978-1-897160-81-7 PDF
Carlos Torres 320-323
P. Cesaroni and S. Chignola (eds.), La forza del vero; Un seminario sui Corsi di Michel Foucault al Collège de France (1981-1984) (Verona: Ombre Corte, 2013), 7-179, € 15.00, ISBN: 978-88-97522-54-6 PDF
Giovanni Maria Mascaretti 324-328
Hutter, Horst, and Eli Friedland (eds.), Nietzsche’s Therapeutic Teaching for Individuals and Culture (New York: NY: Bloomsbury, 2013), 264 pp., $ 130, 978-1-4411-2533-0. PDF
Eric Guzzi 329-333
John Protevi, Life, War, Earth: Deleuze and the Sciences (Minnesota: Minnesota University Press, 2013), Pagination, Price, ISBN: 978-0-8166-8102-0. PDF
Mohammad-Ali Rahebi 334-338


Editorial: Toolbox PDF
Sverre Raffnsøe et al. 339
The Uncollected Foucault PDF
Stuart Elden 340-353


Editorial: Exchanges PDF
Sverre Raffnsøe et al. 354-355
Neoliberalism, Governmentality, Ethnography: A Response to Michelle Brady PDF
Mitchell Dean 356-366
Neoliberalism, Governmentality, and Ethnography: A rejoinder PDF
Michelle Brady

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Rosie Smith, Book Review: Foucault’s ‘Wrong-Doing, Truth-Telling’. The Sociological Imagination, 2015

Michel Foucault’s 1981 Louvain lecture series ‘Wrong-Doing, Truth-Telling’ is a wonderfully insightful book. It provides a detailed examination of the role of truth-telling throughout antiquity and its development into a key stone of contemporary European juridical proceedings. Specifically, Foucault investigates, within the discourse of criminal law and criminal justice, the use of ‘avowal’ as a particular form of truth-telling; the process through which an individual identifies themselves as the criminal subject, rather than merely as the author of a crime. Foucault guides the reader through the history of truth-telling within society, how it is constructed and how it affects power, knowledge, and the subject. Using vivid historical, philosophical and literary examples, Foucault constructs a coherent genealogy of the subject (Brion and Bernard, 1981: 271), and how truth-telling aids individuals’ development of a sense of self. The lectures are delivered with great zeal and open a window onto Foucault’s own politicization, particularly his involvement with the French Maoist political party, Gauche Prolétarienne, during the early 1970s. In culmination the reader is provided with an impassioned analysis of “the points where the techniques of the self are integrated into structures of coercion or domination” (1981: 300).

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With thanks to Dave Beer for this news

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