William Cronon lecture at the British Academy tomorrow – 7 July 2015, 6pm

William Cronon British Academy lecture, Royal Geographical Society, London, 7 July 2015 – ‘ Who reads Geography or History anymore?

image003I was looking forward to this, but now have a conflicting appointment.

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Foucault Circle meeting at UNSW June 29-July 2, 2016 – call for papers

The sixteenth annual meeting of the Foucault Circle will be held in Sydney, Australia, June 29-July 2, 2016 (hosted by the University of New South Wales).

The Foucault Circle at UNSW will be held immediately before the Australasian Association of Philosophy Conference which in 2016 is being hosted by Monash University at the Caulfield campus. AAP Dates are: Sunday 3rd July – Thursday 7th July 2016. Scholars planning to attend the Foucault Circle may also wish to attend the AAP. Full details before or here.

We invite individual papers and roundtable proposals (4-5 panelists) on any aspect of Foucault’s work. Studies, critiques, and applications of Foucauldian thinking are all welcome. We will aim for a diversity of topics and perspectives.

Abstracts should be prepared for anonymous review, and are to be submitted to the program committee chair, Richard A. Lynch, by email (lynchricharda@sau.edu) on/before Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. Please indicate “Foucault Circle submission” in the subject heading, and include the abstract as a “.docx” attachment.

Individual paper submissions require an abstract of no more than 750 words; roundtable submissions require a 500-word abstract describing the theme and 150-word summaries of each panelist’s talking points.

Program decisions will be announced in December.

Each speaker will have approximately 35 minutes for paper presentation and discussion combined—papers should be a maximum of 3000 words (15-20 minutes reading time). Roundtables will have approximately 50 minutes total for presentation and discussion combined; individual panelists should plan to speak for no more than 5-7 minutes. In addition to paper and roundtable sessions, the conference will also feature a “reading group” discussion session (texts TBA) open to all participants.

Logistical information about lodging, transportation, and other arrangements will be available after the program has been announced.

For more information about the Foucault Circle, please see our website:


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The Spatial History: Maksakov on Yampolsky


A review of an intriguing Russian book, at the Society and Space open site.

Originally posted on Society and space:

JampolskijVladimir Maksakov reviews Пространственная история. Три текста об истории/ Prostranstvennaya istoria. Tri teksta ob istorii [The Spatial History. Three Texts on History] by Russian historian Mikhail Yampolsky. The book was published by Masterskaya Seans Press in 2013.

Spatial History, the title of Mikhail Yampolsky’s new book, evokes a vertical, rather than horizontal (or chronological), approach to history. The idea that historical process (and the writing of history) contains some focal points which allow one to take the gist of the events and deploy the logic of history in depth rather than in breadth is not new in principle. According to Yampolsky, the idea of progress at the basis of text teleology can be traced all the way back to ancient historians. Their aim was to show the history of the rise and exaltation of Rome, or, on the contrary, the decline of Greece. Here, textual coherence and narrative began…

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Jeffrey Jerome Cohen on ‘Creativity, Routine, Writing Lockdowns, and the Necessity of Ignoring Those Who Offer Themselves as Example’

image_miniJeffrey Jerome Cohen has a draft of his contribution to a collection on writing with which I am also involved: ‘Creativity, Routine, Writing Lockdowns, and the Necessity of Ignoring Those Who Offer Themselves as Example‘. (A little more on my contribution here.)

Jeffrey’s piece is in part an account of how he came to write his remarkable book Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman, which I have just read. Given how harrowing the account of its writing seems, it’s remarkable how the book bears so little trace of it. The book will be useful as and when I return to my work on earth, terrain, fossils, and related questions.

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Deleuze, Guattari, Foucault and Fourquet’s discussions of ‘Les équipements du pouvoir’

scan0001Keith Harris has been saying a bit about Deleuze, Guattari, Foucault and Fourquet’s discussions of ‘Les équipements du pouvoir’. He first shared his reading notes on Guattari’s contributions to a discussion with Foucault and Fourquet; and has followed up today with a clarification on the initial publication details.

Keith links to my list of Foucault’s collaborative projects, which I think illustrates just how important this model of working was for him. The pieces in question were first published in Généalogie du capital: 1 Les équipements du pouvoir: villes, territoires et équipements collectifs, Recherches, No 13, December 1973; which was then reissued as François Fourquet and Lion Murard, Les équipements du pouvoir, Paris: Union Générales d’Éditions 10/18, 1976. The Recherches issue isn’t that easy to find today, but the 10/18 book is fairly widely available.

Fourquet’s postface to this material was so long it was published as separate volume: Généalogie du capital 2: L’idéal historique, Recherches, No 14, January 1974; reissued as François Fourquet, L’idéal historique, Paris: Union Générales d’Éditions 10/18, 1976.

While the two discussions which involve Foucault were translated in Foucault: Live, to my knowledge none of the other material was. Keith links to a reprint of an essay by Fourquet that the discussion follows. And this work – largely undertaken for Guattari’s CERFI group – led to the volumes on Généalogie des équipements de normalisation with which Foucault was also involved. Fuller details of those here.

I will discuss Les équipements du pouvoir most fully in Foucault: The Birth of Power, but say a bit about it, and a lot about the Généalogie des équipements de normalisation projects in Foucault’s Last Decade. I hope Keith is able to translate some more of this work.

Posted in Felix Guattari, Foucault's Last Decade, Foucault: The Birth of Power, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault | Leave a comment

Draft entry for a Michel Serres Dictionary: Le Système de Leibniz et ses modèles mathématiques (1968)


A very interesting discussion of Michel Serres’s reading of Leibniz.

Originally posted on Christopher Watkin:

Le Système de Leibniz was published during the heady anni mirabiles of late 1960s French thought. It appeared in 1968, the same year as Roland Barthes’s short essay ‘The Death of the Author’, one year after Derrida’s Of Grammatology and Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, and two years after Foucault’s The Order of Things. Like Derrida’s and Deleuze’s volumes Le Système was written as a major doctoral thesis (French doctoral candidates submit a major and a minor thesis), the fruit of research under the supervision of Jean Hyppolite at the Ecole Normale Suprérieure, Rue d’Ulm. Like those other works it stands both as a rich and sinuous study in its own right and also as a radical declaration of philosophical intent from a philosopher elaborating the shapes of thought that will accompany him through his subsequent writings.

The importance of the work can be summarised under three headings. First, it…

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Top posts on Progressive Geographies this week

A quiet week on the blog, because a busy week at workshops in Florence, Nottingham and London. More on those, hopefully with some audio recordings, early next week.

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Leverhulme Trust Network on Project on Indeterminate and Changing Environments: Law, the Anthropocene, and the World (the ICE LAW Project)

Phil Steinberg has the good news that the Leverhulme Trust has funded the Project on Indeterminate and Changing Environments: Law, the Anthropocene, and the World (the ICE LAW Project). I’ll be leading the subproject on territory. Congratulations to Phil and Kate Coddington who led the application. Here’s the full story:

I’m happy to announce that the Leverhulme Trust’s International Networks Programme has agreed fund a series of workshops, conferences and meetings to further the Project on Indeterminate and Changing Environments: Law, the Anthropocene, and the World (the ICE LAW Project), a project being organised by IBRU: Durham University’s Centre for Borders Research with the support of the UArctic Thematic Network on Arctic Law.

To quote from the grant proposal:

The ICE LAW Project will query how human interactions with the geophysical environment of the world’s frozen regions challenge Western normative principles of state power and legal authority that assume an idealized binary between land and water. Six subprojects led by ten scholars (representing seven institutions in six countries) will investigate how normative principles of state territory are challenged by the dynamic nature of geophysics. Subprojects will explore how complex geophysical processes and changes are encountered through regulations and practices of territory, resource use, law, mobility, and migration, including a focus on local and indigenous perspectives.

Over the next three years, beginning in January 2016, each subproject will be a holding a number of workshops, and we’ll also be organising a number of larger conferences, as well as sessions at the 2017 International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS) in Umeå, Sweden. The plan of action follows directly from the Workshop on the Ice-Land-Water Interface held in June 2014 in Durham.

I look forward to working with the subproject leaders: Claudio Aporta & Aldo Chircop(Mobilities), Gavin Bridge (Resources), Kate Coddington (Migrations), Stuart Elden(Territory), Timo Koivurova (Law), and Stephanie KaneJessica Shadian, & Anna Stammler-Gossmann (Local & Indigenous Perspectives).

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Nick Vaughan-Williams, Europe’s Border Crisis: Biopolitical Security and Beyond – forthcoming from Oxford University Press

Nick Vaughan-Williams, Europe’s Border Crisis: Biopolitical Security and Beyond – forthcoming from Oxford University Press.


Europe’s Border Crisis investigates dynamics in EU border security and migration management and advances a path-breaking framework for thought, judgment, and action in this context. It argues that a crisis point has emerged whereby irregular migrants are treated as both a security threat to the EU and as a life that is threatened and in need of saving. This leads to paradoxical situations such that humanitarian policies and practices often expose irregular migrants to dehumanizing and lethal border security mechanisms. The dominant way of understanding these dynamics, one that blames a gap between policy and practice, fails to address the deeper political issues at stake and ends up perpetuating the terms of the crisis.

Drawing on conceptual resources in biopolitical theory, particularly the work of Roberto Esposito, the book offers an alternative diagnosis of the problem in order to move beyond the present impasse. It argues that both negative and positive dimensions of EU border security are symptomatic of tensions within biopolitical techniques of government. While bordering practices are designed to play a defensive role they contain the potential for excessive security mechanisms that threaten the very values and lives they purport to protect. Each chapter draws on a different biopolitical key to both interrogate diverse technologies of power at a range of border sites and explore the insights and limits of the biopolitical paradigm. Must border security always result in dehumanization and death? Is a more affirmative approach to border politics possible? Europe’s Border Crisis sets out a new horizon for addressing these and related questions.


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Thomas Nail, The Figure of the Migrant – forthcoming from Stanford University Press

Thomas Nail, The Figure of the Migrant – forthcoming from Stanford University Press. I provide one of the endorsements. The book is due out in September. In the meantime, a short interview on migrant politics related to the themes of the book that can be viewed/downloaded here.


This book offers a much-needed new political theory of an old phenomenon. The last decade alone has marked the highest number of migrations in recorded history. Constrained by environmental, economic, and political instability, scores of people are on the move. But other sorts of changes—from global tourism to undocumented labor—have led to the fact that to some extent, we are all becoming migrants. The migrant has become the political figure of our time.

Rather than viewing migration as the exception to the rule of political fixity and citizenship, Thomas Nail reinterprets the history of political power from the perspective of the movement that defines the migrant in the first place. Applying his “kinopolitics” to several major historical conditions (territorial, political, juridical, and economic) and figures of migration (the nomad, the barbarian, the vagabond, and the proletariat), he provides fresh tools for the analysis of contemporary migration.

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