An intriguing short piece by Bruno Latour – ‘Some advantages of the notion of “Critical Zone” for Geopolitics’ – available to download from his website.
Abstract: The relatively new concept of “critical zones”, much like that of the “Anthropocene”, signals an interesting twist in the ways to approach life-sustaining systems on Earth and thus a new way to understand the prefix “geo” in geopolitics. Some advantages of the notion for political sciences are listed.
Atlas of Epidemic Britain: A Twentieth Century Picture reviewed by Tom Koch at the Society and Space open site.
Originally posted on Society and Space - Environment and Planning D:
Matthew Smallman-Raynor and Andrew Cliff’s Atlas of Epidemic Britain: A Twentieth Century Picture is reviewed by Tom Koch. The atlas was published in 2012 by Oxford University Press.
A selection of hi-res illustrations and maps from Andreas Vesalius and Abraham Ortelius’ atlases, which are discussed in the review, can be viewed at the online exhibition ATLASES: Poetics, Politics and Performance.
A review of Koch’s 2011 book Disease Maps: Epidemics on the Ground is available here.
Henri Lefebvre’s Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment; Alberto Manguel’s The Library at Night; Janet Ruane’s Essentials of Research Methods; Bernard Pivot, Ecrire, Lire et en Parler (which contains the French version of a Foucault interview that is not in Dits et Écrits); the new issues of Theory, Culture & Society and Society and Space; and my author copy of The Cambridge Foucault Lexicon.
Commissioned by Remote Control, a project hosted by Oxford Research Group, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s report Drones in Afghanistan: A scoping study assesses the feasibility of using open-source materials to track drone strikes in Afghanistan, modelled on its existing databases of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
The report found that drones are playing an increasingly important role in Afghan air campaigns in recent years (in 2011 drones fired 5% of all missiles fired in air strikes, by 2012 this had risen to 18%). It also found that an increased reliance on drones after the US drawdown this year is expected for counterterrorism operations in the country. Drones now account for a third of all civilian deaths in Afghan air strikes but little is known about the details of these strikes.
The research concludes that media reports would not be sufficient as a primary source to develop a full record of drone strikes, but instead would require networks of local contacts to compile additional data, along with urging the military forces involved to release their own data. Despite these challenges, the report stressed the vital importance of developing a database of strikes in Afghanistan.
Read the report here.
After what has felt like a long break from working on this book, I’ve begun writing again. Some of this was during a recent trip to Ghana.
The first part of Chapter Six looks at the collaborative projects Foucault was involved with through his Collège de France seminars and his involvement with CERFI in the 1970s. I discuss four projects. The first was work conducted at CERFI, also involving Deleuze and Guattari, on into urban infrastructure and related themes, which led to the book Les équipements du pouvoir by Lion Murard and François Fourquet. The second is the collective work Les machines à guérir (aux origines de l’hôpital moderne) published in 1976 and then reissued in 1979. The third is a study Foucault edited entitled Politiques de l’habitat (1800-1850) from 1977. The fourth is a study of the ‘green spaces’ of Paris. These projects are important, I think, for moving Foucault’s interests beyond institutions to the wider society, and for beginning his thinking on questions of governmental practice. I’ve written about these projects before, using the archive of his papers at IMEC, and so it was mainly a question of reorganizing material into the form for this book. We tend to have a vision of Foucault largely as a solitary individual author, but that is at least partly due to the lack of translation of his collaborative works and writings by his colleagues.
The second part of this chapter discusses the two ‘governmentality’ courses – 1978’s Security, Territory, Population and 1979’s The Birth of Biopolitics. I’ve written about these courses, especially the first, before because of the direct relation of Foucault’s concerns to my previous work on the history of territory. I have no wish to repeat that argument again in this book. Instead I’ve concentrated on the discussion of the Christian pastoral in the first course, and the emergence of homo oeconomicus in the second. There is an extensive literature on these courses already, but I hope I’ve said something worthwhile about them: principally because I try to find the continuity of concerns and the links to other material, rather than see them as a completely discrete project. The pastorate is particularly important to the account I am giving, especially as it provides the basis for the third course on governmentality, Du gouvernement des vivants – forthcoming in translation as On the Government of the Living.
There were lots of other pieces that needed to be weaved into this story – Foucault gave a sequence of lectures and interviews in Japan in 1978 immediately after the first course, only some of which are in English and all of which are fascinating; there are the discussions with historians in L’impossible prison; the ‘What is Critique?’ lecture at the Société française de philosophie from May 1978, but only published in 1990 and hence not in Dits et écrits; and the Tanner lectures at Stanford, ‘Omnes et Singulatim’ from October 1979. I still need to decide how to treat the journalism on Iran.
The next chapter will discuss Du gouvernement des vivants (1980) and 1981’s Subjectivité et vérité alongside the newly translated 1981 Louvain lectures Wrong Doing, Truth Telling and other material from that time, along with the US lectures of 1980-81, now mostly collected in L’origine de l’herméneutique de soi (see here and here).
You can read more about the Foucault’s Last Decade project, along with links to previous updates, here.
Special issue of Space and Polity on the work of Jacques Ranciere
Originally posted on Path to the Possible:
Just out: a new special issue of Space & Polity on the thought of Jacques Ranciere and how it might be useful for political action today. I edited the special issue, which includes articles by:
Where is the political? Insurgent mobilisations and the incipient “return of the political”
Mark Davidson and Kurt Iveson:
Occupations, mediations, subjectifications: fabricating politics
Cleveland’s Hough riots of 1966: ghettoisation and egalitarian (re)inscription
Rancière and revolution
Kate Booth and Stewart Williams:
A more-than-human political moment (and other natural catastrophes)
You can find more information, and abstracts, here.
My article, which argues that we need to augment Ranciere with Deleuze and Guattari’s political thought, is available free to the first 50 people who ask for it, which you can do here.