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Progressive Geographies

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I don’t plan to write detailed posts on the work I’m doing on Georges Canguilhem for the book for Polity’s Key Contemporary Thinkers series, unlike the ones which I’ve been writing on the work on Foucault. (More background on this project here.)

Part of the reason for this is that the research and writing for this book are likely to run in parallel with the work for The Early Foucault, and so the updates for the writing of that book will cover some of the material for this one. In addition, because I will be writing a single book on the whole of Canguilhem’s work, and for an introductory series, it will necessarily be a different type of book to the Foucault ones. The Foucault ones are written, as should be obvious, for an audience who already know at least something about Foucault. They are not, and…

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Progressive Geographies

Foucault and Canguilhem Jean Hyppolite, Michel Foucault, Georges Canguilhem, Dina Dreyfus, 1965 (source: Institut national de l’audiovisuel, via Foucault Blog)

As part of my research on the very early Foucault, I’ve been looking at the work of some of his teachers and other inspirations. One of those figures was Georges Canguilhem, who ended up being the rapporteur for Foucault’s doctoral thesis on the history of madness. Canguilhem is a major figure in the history and philosophy of science, best known for The Normal and the Pathological, but author of several other important studies. Many, but by no means all, of his works are translated into English. The links between Canguilhem and Foucault are not quite as straight-forward as are sometimes claimed, with Foucault having written the entire thesis before showing it to Canguilhem, and it’s not clear that Foucault actually attended any classes by him in the early 1950s. Nonetheless…

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Progressive Geographies

Update 6.JPG

I’ve largely been able to continue the focus of the last update, with a series of fairly uninterrupted days’ research and writing. Aside from continuing work on Lacan, I’ve also been looking at the people who taught Foucault. Merleau-Ponty is the key figure, as I’ve mentioned before, and I’ve done a bit more work on him, but Jean Wahl, Jean Hyppolite, Jean Beaufret, Henri Gouhier, and Daniel Lagache are all important. It’s taken a bit of digging around, but quite a lot of the lectures Foucault attended have been published. So, where possible, I’ve been tracking these down and doing some selective reading. Warwick has a pretty good collection, often in French and English. I was back in London for a couple of days, so did some work in the British Library, though my list of things to do there, and in Paris, is still quite extensive. I have the…

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Knowledge Ecology

beeple-1[Image: Mike Winkelmann]

In my dissertation summary, I linked the works of Evan Thompson, Pierre Hadot, Peter Sloterdijk, and Michel Foucault in terms of each philosopher’s emphasis on what we could call skillsof perception and action, each suggesting a view of philosophy as practice. In Pierre Hadot’s workWhat is Ancient Philosophy?, for example, we finda view of the history of philosophy as a history of practices of self-transformation and self-overcoming (up to and including considerations of just who the”self” is that is overcome).

Despite the implications of histitle, Hadot sees the emphasis on practice as also prevalent in modern philosophical figures, including Descartes, Kant, and Montaigne. In principle, we couldtake a practice view of anytradition of philosophical thought, as many of Hadot’s commentators have done. This is largely the same approach that Peter Sloterdijk takes. InThe Art of Philosophy,Sloterdijk introduces us to his method…

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Progressive Geographies

I’ve now finished work on Foucault: The Birth of Power – the corrections to the proofs have been sent off. In the past several weeks I’ve been working hard on Shakespeare, and have got several chapters into draft state. I’m going to have to take a break from this work in the autumn-winter, with teaching and several talks on different topics, so I’d like to get this manuscript to a point where I can leave it without too many loose ends. This doesn’t mean it’s nearly finished, indeed far from it, but I want it to be at a point where I can put it aside and return, at some point, with fresh eyes and hopefully new energy and ideas.

I’ve put a new page on this site with more information on the Shakespeare project. This supersedes the older page, and more accurately reflects the current shape of it.

Foucault: The…

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Progressive Geographies

0745683916Peter Gratton kindly links to my Interview with Eugene Wolters at critical-theory.com, which I shared at the weekend, and also mentions that he is currently interviewing me, along with Eduardo Mendieta and Dianna Taylor, for Symposium. The interview uses the book as a starting point, but is really a discussion of mid-late Foucault around a range of themes. Peter says “it will appear early in the fall (if not sooner if we can make it open access)”. There are also at least three reviews of the book in progress.

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Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power. So to arrange things that the surveil¬lance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary; that this architectural apparatus should be a machine for creating and sustaining a power relation independent of the person who exercises it; in short, that the inmates should be caught up in a power situation of which they are themselves the bearers. Foucault, M. (1995). Discipline and Punish: The birth of the prison, (A. Sheridan, Trans.), New York: Vintage Books. (Original work published 1975). Pt 3. Chapter 3 : Panopticism, p. 201

zorbitor

August 10, 2016

Contact: @zorbitor

6th Annual Wave at Surveillance Day

“To Be Observed”

It’s no secret that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg covers his laptop camera and microphone jack, as reported by The New York Times on June 22nd. The paper also notes documents unveiled by Edward Snowden reveal that at least two National Security Agency programs are designed to ‘take over’ home computers.

Even more alarming, sousveillance has brought to light the often deadly acts of those officially tasked with watching over us. Security cameras. Bodycams. Dashcams. The tide of the watchman shows no sign of receding. For good or for evil? One is led to wonder: Surveillance. Is it our new moral compass?

August 16th will mark the world’s 6th annual Wave at Surveillance Day, a chance for the watched to reach out to the watchers both at home and in public venues.

When discussing last year’s event…

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