Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Anthony Alessandrini, “Rescuing the Revolution from Its Outcomes”, Journal of the Society for Contemporary Thought and the Islamicate World, March 23 2017

Part of a Book Symposium on Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi’s Foucault in Iran: Islamic Revolution after the Enlightenment, University of Minnesota Press, 2016, 272 pp., $27.00 US (pbk), ISBN 9780816699490.

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Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi’s Foucault in Iran: Islamic Revolution after the Enlightenment is an exemplary book in a number of ways, but perhaps first and foremost because of what the book does not do. While it represents the most extensive and sympathetic consideration in English of Michel Foucault’s writings on the events leading up to and culminating in the Iranian Revolution, Ghamari-Tabrizi does not fall into the commonplace critical practice of arguing whether Foucault was “right” or “wrong” about the revolution and its aftermath. More admirably, Foucault in Iran is not satisfied with performing the subtler but still ultimately familiar work of simply asking what Foucault’s writings on Iran can do for us in analyzing our contemporary context. Instead, the book performs Ghamari-Tabrizi’s scrupulous allegiance to what he finds most valuable in Foucault’s work: his insistence upon recognizing “the singularity of the revolution” and the concomitant need “to liberate it from the constraints of universalist narratives” (75). By doing so, he manages to contribute not only a new and significant understanding of Foucault’s late work on ethics, but also an important re-historicizing of the Iranian Revolution for an audience that very likely needs this re-telling. It is on this notion of singularity as Ghamari-Tabrizi reads it out of Foucault’s work, as well as out of the revolution itself, that I will thus focus on in my contribution to this roundtable

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In the Shadow of Dictatorship: Foucault in Brazil

Review of Heliana de Barros Conde Rodrigues, Ensaios sobre Michel Foucault no Brasil: Presença, efeitos, ressonâncias  (Lamparina 2016), 176 pages

Reviewed by Marcelo Hoffman, Theory Culture and Society, 22 March 2017

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Michel Foucault visited Brazil five times from 1965 to 1976 yet the details of his overall presence in the country have remained largely unexplored even in Brazil. Heliana Conde’s Ensaios sobre Michel Foucault no Brasil has the great merit of introducing readers to these details through a reliance on wide range of sources, including interviews with his interlocutors and the archives of the former secret police. While her book covers various aspects of Foucault in Brazil up to his effects and resonances in our present, she compellingly illuminates how the military dictatorship cast a long and ominous shadow over each of his visits to the country.

Foucault, Brazil, dictatorship, oral history, militancy, power, resistance

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lorey_state_of_insecurity Eric Wilson, Precarious Politics, The Blackstone Review, December 2016

Review of State of Insecurity: Government of the Precarious. by Isabell Lorey, Verso, 2015

Using Foucault’s notion of self-governance, Lorey helps to demonstrate how the hustler internalizes the imperative to hustle. Self-governance implies the ways in which a population is made, through a variety of state- and work-disciplinary mechanisms, and comes to make, through self-discipline, itself into a subject. Neoliberal self-governance takes place under conditions where the burden of life has been shifted from the state to individuals who are made to appear solely responsible for their lives, their successes or failures, their employment or imprisonment. This transition produces precarious subjects who are increasingly called upon to live lives of constant precarious labor, to manage their precarity at all times, to constantly hustle, at work and at home. In this way, precarity becomes a way of life, a condition that not only structures employment, but also structures the governing of the self. The uncertainty produced by neoliberalism looms within the texture of daily life, informing not only conscious decisions about how to allocate resources for an uncertain future but also unconscious thoughts and behaviors. It is the production of radically isolated individuals who are driven by one imperative: to pursue security in a world of financial, political, environmental, and humanitarian crises.

The individual hustler, hustling, working multiple jobs, learning to love and identify with exploitative conditions, all appear variously in this moment of neoliberalism.

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cover_issue_703_en_usFoucault News
Number 22: January 2017:
Foucault and Roman Antiquity: Foucault’s Rome

Editor’s note: I have now returned to the journal, of which I was one of the co-founders, as part of an expanded editorial team. An interview with another of the three founding editors of the journal, Stuart Elden, also appears in this issue, as does a review of his latest book. The opening editorial states:

With this issue of Foucault Studies, a new and markedly expanded editorial team takes over. While Sverre Raffnsøe, Alain Beaulieu, Barbara Cruikshank, Knut Ove Eliassen, Marius GudmandHøyer, Johanna Oksala and Alan Rosenberg continue on the editorial team, Foucault Studies is delighted to welcome Thomas Götselius, Daniele Lorenzini, Hernan Camilo Pulido Martinez, Clare O’Farrell, Rodrigo Castro Orellana, Eva Bendix Petersen and Dianna Taylor as co-editors.

Table of contents

Special Issue on Foucault and Roman Antiquity: Foucault’s Rome

Introduction: Foucault’s Rome
Richard Alston

Lucan, Reception, Counter-history
Ika Willis

Foucault, Sovereignty, and Governmentality in the Roman Republic
Dean Hammer

The Augustan Principate and the Emergence of Biopolitics: A Comparative Historical Perspective
Shreyaa Bhatt

Foucault’s Empire of the Free
Richard Alston

Time for Foucault? Reflections on the Roman Self from Seneca to Augustine
James I. Porter

From Race War to Socialist Racism: Foucault’s Second Transcription
Verena Erlenbusch

Foucault and Weber on Leadership and the Modern Subject
Tahseen Kazi

Protestation and Mobilization in the Middle East and North Africa: A Foucauldian Model
Navid Pourmokhtari

Cuvier’s Situation in the History of Biology
Lynne Huffer

Foucault and Intellectual History: An interview with Stuart Elden on his book Foucault’s Last Decade (Polity Press, 2016)
Antoinette Koleva

Julian Reid on Foucault – applying his work on war, resilience, imagination and political subjectivity
Kristian Haug

Book Reviews
Stuart Elden, Foucault’s Last Decade (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2016), 272pp, pb £17.99, ISBN: 9780745683928
Kurt Borg

Paul Colilli, Agamben and the Signature of Astrology. Spheres of Potentiality (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015), i-xx, 214 pp. hard cover, $85.00 (US) ISBN: 978-1-4985-0595-6
Alain Beaulieu

Peter Sloterdijk, Philosophical Temperaments: From Plato to Foucault, trans. Thomas Dunlap (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), ISBN: 978-0231153737
Jonathan G. Wald

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Michel Foucault (2016)

Philippe Raynaud, Michel Foucault, Commentaire 2016/1 (Numéro 153)

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Dirigée par Frédéric Gros avec le concours de quelques bons spécialistes, l’édition de la Pléiade présente la plupart des livres publiés du vivant de Foucault ou revus par lui avant sa mort (à l’exception regrettable de ses premiers travaux sur la « maladie mentale »), ainsi qu’un choix judicieux d’articles, de conférences et d’interviews qui permettent de mieux comprendre les sources philosophiques…

Plan de l’article
Nietzsche et Heidegger
Histoire de la folie
Naissance de la clinique
Les Mots et les Choses
Mai 1968
Philosophe et historien

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Jason Read, Cutting Off Heads. A review of Foucault with Marx by Jacques Bidet (Zed Books: London, 2016)

Jacques Bidet’s Foucault with Marx represents yet another contribution to the eventual overcoming of an academic skirmish between advocates of Foucault and Marx, itself a smaller conflict in the larger battle of postmodernism versus Marxism. The perspective which saw Marx and Foucault as mutually opposed theoretical camps has begun to fade thanks to both the publication of Foucault’s courses and lectures, most importantly the short essay on “The Mesh of Power,” and the publication of several texts, such as the monumental collection Marx & Foucault: Lectures, usages, confrontations in France. However, the dissipation of Team Foucault and Team Marx is only a first step; it remains to be seen how Foucault and Marx are related and how their different examinations into history, modernity, and society can be brought together through their points of connection and differences.

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Frieder Vogelmann, Reading Practices: How to read Foucault?, Krisis, Journal for Contemporary Philosophy Issue 2, 2016

Review of: Daniel Zamora and Michael Z. Behrent, Eds. (2016), Foucault and Neoliberalism. Cambridge: Polity Press, 152 pages; and Mitchel Dean and Kaspar Villadsen (2016), State Phobia and Civil Society. The Political Legacy of Michel Foucault. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 196 pages.

Does Foucault have sympathies for neoliberalism? Is his analysis of it therefore rather an “apology” (Becker, Ewald and Harcourt 2012: 4) than a critique? Is his theoretical and political antistatism complicit in the neoliberal dismantling of the welfare state? Such are the questions that have sparked a lively discussion in the last year, mostly on various web blogs[1] but also in journals (Hansen 2015) – and in books, as the two under review here.

Set off by Daniel Zamora’s interview with the strange title “Can We Criticize Foucault?” in the journal Ballast (an English translation appeared in Jacobin),[2] the bold and sweeping accusations that not only had Foucault himself been at least uncritical, if not supportive of neoliberalism, but also that “Foucault scholasticism” (Behrent 2016 [2014]: 54) is therefore implicated in the neoliberal strategy and that this constitutes Foucault’s “political legacy”, (Dean and Villadsen 2016) seem to have touched a sensitive spot within current Foucaultian scholarship. Although Johanna Oksala (2015) is fundamentally right in her assessment that “this debate itself seems misguided,”[3] there is something to learn from this misguided debate because it brings out two questions mostly left unattended by all its participants (but see Erlenbusch 2015): How do weread Foucault? And how does Foucault read (neoliberals like Gary Becker, for example)? By way of reviewing first the English edition of Daniel Zamora’s Critiquer Foucault (2014), and second Mitchell Dean’s and Kaspar Villadsen’s monograph State Phobia and Civil Society (2016), I will argue that the questions of how we read Foucault and how Foucault reads are not sufficiently addressed.

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