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Progressive Geographies

pid_26751.jpgStefanos Geroulanos, Transparency in Postwar France: A Critical History of the Present is now out with Stanford University Press.

This book returns to a time and place when the concept of transparency was met with deep suspicion. It offers a panorama of postwar French thought where attempts to show the perils of transparency in politics, ethics, and knowledge led to major conceptual inventions, many of which we now take for granted.

Between 1945 and 1985, academics, artists, revolutionaries, and state functionaries spoke of transparency in pejorative terms. Associating it with the prying eyes of totalitarian governments, they undertook a critical project against it—in education, policing, social psychology, economic policy, and the management of information. Focusing on Sartre, Lacan, Canguilhem, Lévi-Strauss, Leroi-Gourhan, Foucault, Derrida, and others, Transparency in Postwar France explores the work of ethicists, who proposed that individuals are transparent neither to each other nor to themselves, and philosophers, who clamored…

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Progressive Geographies

product_9782070720392_195x320This was not a source I knew about before: Daniel Defert, “Lettre à Claude Lanzmann”, Les Temps Modernes, No 531-533, Vol 2, 1990,  pp. 1201-1206.

It’s a short piece in a massive 1400 page collection devoted to Sartre, ten years after his death. Defert was asked for a contribution but replied with a long letter, which he says can be used however the recipient wants. They decided to publish it.

As well as discussing the intellectual disagreements between the two around the publication of Foucault’s Les mots et les choses [The Order of Things], and extending to The Archaeology of Knowledge, Defert says a bit about their overlapping political commitments in the 1970s. I was looking at it because it has a minor point about a 1950s text I’m currently working on, but it would have been a useful source when I was working on 

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Progressive Geographies

59b383cef5ba740228e84989Stephen W. Sawyer & Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins (eds.), Foucault, Neoliberalism and Beyond – forthcoming in 2018 from Rowman & Littlefield International.

Few philosophers have garnered as much attention globally as Michel Foucault. But even within this wide reception, the consideration given to his relationship to neoliberalism has been noteworthy. However, the debate over this relationship has given rise to a great deal of polemics and confusion.

This volume brings together leading figures in the field to provide a reliable guide to one of the most controversial subjects in recent continental thought. It puts across the case for Foucault’s importance for post-colonial, race, queer and feminist studies, among other areas, and opens up his relationship to neoliberalism to offer a broader picture of tensions brewing within the Left more generally.

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Faculté de droit d’Orléans, Jeudi 15 et vendredi 16 novembre 2018

Le colloque “Foucault face à la norme” s’inscrit dans une série de colloques ambitionnant de questionner un auteur, sa trajectoire de vie autant que son oeuvre, sur la question des normes telle qu’elle se pose avec acuité dans nos sociétés contemporaines.

La pensée de Foucault intéresse les juristes depuis son début. Interrogée maintes fois sous l’angle de la politique, du droit et plus particulièrement du droit pénal, l’oeuvre de Foucault est féconde pour la théorie du droit. Maintenant bien connue des spécialistes, elle laisse entrevoir son potentiel sur la question spécifique de l’évolution démesurée des normes tant privées que publiques dans nos sociétés. Tout l’enjeu de cette interrogation nouvelle consisterait alors à confronter l’oeuvre de Michel Foucault à la problématique des normes au-delà des disciplines. C’est dans ce décloisonnement que pourra le mieux être cerné l’originalité de sa pensée et surtout son caractère fécond pour la théorie du droit.

• Foucault peut-il offrir un cadre de pensée à la théorie du droit en prise avec la concurrence des autres normativités contemporaines, notamment celles de l’éthique, de la technologie numérique, du management, et de la gestion ?
• Existe-il en ce sens un concept foucaldien de la norme à même de mettre en dialogue ces normativités concurrentes et propre à dégager des enseignements pour un renouveau de la théorie du droit ?
• Dans quelle mesure la pensée de Foucault peut-elle nous aider à comprendre et agir sur le développement exponentiel des normes de toute nature que connaissent nos sociétés occidentales ?
• Son engagement politique et personnel durant sa vie dessine-t-il également une posture face à la norme susceptible de nous guider en tant que chercheur et citoyen ?

Déjà initiée avec Roland Barthes (https://www.upicardie.fr/barthesvsnorme/), cette série de colloques se poursuit avec Michel Foucault sous le même format : un colloque interdisciplinaire et international sur deux jours réunissant des spécialistes de l’auteur toute discipline confondue et des juristes intéressés par faire le lien avec la théorie du droit. Ce questionnement de certains des auteurs les plus inspirants du XXe siècle, qui se poursuivra avec Deleuze et Derrida notamment, dessine des voies possibles de contournement, de lutte et d’affranchissement face à la norme. La série de colloques Face à la norme s’inscrit dans le thème de recherche sur la Mutation des normes du Centre de recherche juridique Pothier de l’Université d’Orléans et de l’axe de recherche Technique(s) et histoire de la norme du Centre de Droit Privé et de Sciences Criminelles de l’Université d’Amiens.

Les propositions, en anglais ou en français et limitées à 500 mots, sont à envoyer à l’adresse foucaultvsnorme@u-picardie.fr avant le 31 janvier 2018

Faculty of Law of Orleans, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 November 2018

Foucault’s thought has interested lawyers since its start. Frequently questioned from the point of view of politics, law and more particularly of criminal law, Foucault’s work is fruitful for the Law theory. Now well known to specialists, it reveals its potential on the specific issue of the disproportionate development of both private and public standards in our societies. Then, the challenge of this new question would be to confront Michel Foucault’s work with the problematic of norms above disciplines. This is in this departitioning that the originality of his thought, and especially his fertile character for the theory of law could be best determined.
¥ Can Foucault offer a framework of thought to the theory of law in competition with other contemporary normativities, in particular those of ethics, digital technology, and management?
¥ Is there, in this sense, a Foucauldian concept of the norm capable of putting into dialogue these competing normativities, and which could provide lessons for a renewal of the law theory ?
¥ To what extent can Foucault’s thought help us understand and act on the exponential development of norms of all kinds that our Western societies are experiencing?
¥ Does his lifelong political and personal commitment also draw a posture to the norm that can guide us as a researcher and a citizen?

The Foucault symposium facing the norm is part of a series of conferences confronting an author to the problematic of standard. Already initiated with Roland Barthes (https://www.u-picardie.fr/barthesvsnorme/), this series continues with this symposium devoted to Michel Foucault, which reiterates the same format: an interdisciplinary and international two-day symposium bringing together specialists of the author in all disciplines and lawyers interested in making the link with the law theory. The prospect of this series of conferences, which will continue with Deleuze, Derrida, Levinas, and then Bourdieu, outlines possible ways of bypassing, struggling, and emancipating from the norms, thought and lived by some of the most inspiring authors of the twentieth century. The series of conferences Facing the norm is part of the research theme on the mutation of norms of the Pothier Legal Research Center of the University of OrlŽans and of the Research Focus Technique(s) and history of the norm of the Center of Private Law and Criminal Sciences of the University of Amiens.

Proposals, in English or French and limited to 500 words, should be sent to foucaultvsnorme@u-picardie.fr before January 31, 2018

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Progressive Geographies

140304_OUT_MichelFoucault.jpg.CROP_.promo-mediumlarge.jpgFoucault’s The Punitive Society lecture course and my Foucault’s Last Decade and Foucault: The Birth of Power are reviewed in 3am Magazine by Peter Gratton. It’s a long, thoughtful and generous review. As well as saying many insightful things about the books reviewed, it’s also a good meditation on Foucault’s enduring impact today. Many thanks to Peter for writing it.

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Progressive Geographies

imageCatherine M. Soussloff, Foucault on Painting– forthcoming in November 2017 with University of Minnesota Press.

A timely exploration of Foucault’s art historical and philosophical engagement with painting as knowledge

Catherine M. Soussloff argues that Michel Foucault’s sustained engagement with European art history critically addresses present concerns about the mediated nature of the image in the digital age. She explores the meaning of painting for Foucault’s philosophy, and for contemporary art theory, proposing a new relevance for a Foucauldian view of ethics and the pleasures and predicaments of contemporary existence.

Catherine Soussloff is certainly one of the most intellectually intelligent and reflective art historians I can think of. Foucault on Painting is a clear, deeply thoughtful, and perfectly written contribution to the important field of intersect between art and philosophy.

—James Rubin, Stony Brook University

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Progressive Geographies

Workshop: Genealogy and Political Theory, 29 September 2017, 10.00 hrs. – 17.00 hrs.
Campus Roeterseiland, building J/K, room B22 (Valckenierstraat 65-67, 1018 XE Amsterdam)

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of works of and on genealogy by political theorists and historians of political thought. However, with this proliferation comes questions about what exactly genealogy is, how to understand past work on and of genealogy (in particular by Nietzsche and Foucault), how it is connected to other forms of critical inquiry (such as ideology critique), and what its role can and should be in political theorising more broadly.

This workshop brings together scholars working on genealogy to discuss and begin to answer these questions, with a particular focus on the growing contribution of genealogy for helping us to make sense of contemporary political theory and practice.


  • 10:00 – Professor Bernard Reginster (Brown University), “Nietzsche on Truth and Genealogy”.
  • 11:10 – Coffee…

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