Latour on Paris Attacks


A short commentary by Bruno Latour on the Paris attacks and climate change.

Originally posted on Installing (Social) Order:

LatourLatour on Paris Attacks: 

What is so discouraging about the terrorist acts is that our discussion of what motivated the operations is as insane as the acts themselves. With each attack of this nature, we restage the grand war drama, the nation in peril and the protector-state purporting to rise up against barbarity. This is what states do, we say: we should have a basic expectation of security, and the state should have the means to provide it. End of story.

But what makes the current situation so much more dismaying is that the crimes committed on 13 November have occurred within a few days of another event about to take place that involves tragedies of a different kind, ones that will require that we come up with very different answers to wholly different threats that have nothing to do with ISIS/Daech. I am referring, of course, to the World…

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Arlette Farge Remembers Foucault on the Streets of Paris (2015)


Arlette Farge discusses Foucault’s work, and working with him.

Originally posted on Foucault News:

Michel Foucault, Against Himself: Arlette Farge Remembers Foucault on the Streets of Paris, Literary Hub, 16 Nov 2015

The following conversation with French historian Arlette Farge is excerpted from Michel Foucault, Against Himselfa collection of interviews and essays exploring the contradictions and conflicts at the heart of Michel Foucault’s life and work.

You met Foucault after the events of May 1968.

Arlette Farge: I first became acquainted with him through his work in 1975, when Discipline and Punish came out. Back then I was a teacher for young educators who wanted to work in the penitentiary system, so I knew a lot about what Michel Foucault was discussing, and the way, for example, he would go into prisons to read Discipline and Punish out loud to the prisoners. I admired him. Back then, street demonstrations, anything concerning freedom, utopia, the prison system, happiness, life that’s…

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Poster for Shakespeare and territory talk in Cambridge on Wednesday 25 November

CUGS poster

Details at the Cambridge University Geography Society Facebook page.

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Foucault: the Birth of Power Update 7 – working at the Bibliothèque Nationale and a meeting with Foucault’s nephew

Last week was spent at the Bibliothèque Nationale again, continuing the work on the Foucault papers archived there. I worked through four boxes – the last of the five boxes of preparatory notes for Surveiller et punir that also relate to the 1971-72 and 1972-73 courses – and then three boxes of notes for his seminars and the Pierre Rivière project. Most of what I’ve found will be used for Foucault: The Birth of Power.

FBP update 7 copy

One box was a surprise. It did not contain notes for a Collège de France seminar, as I’d though from the catalogue entry, but according to the index in the box they are notes for some seminars he gave in Toronto in 1982. There are various reports about these, and transcripts of some are at in the archives at IMEC and Berkeley, but they have not yet been published. The ones I have seen are quite close to the Vermont seminars from later that year that appear in the Technologies of the Self volume. The notes at the BNF contain detailed readings of early Christianity – Encratism, St Basil of Caesarea, Evagrius Ponticus, Jean Chrysostome, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, St Augustine, Jerome, Cyprian, and Ambrose. There are lots of references to primary texts in Greek and Latin, with long passages copied out and some photocopies, plus references to secondary literature in French, German and English. As with all the notes I’ve seen so far they are undated, so it’s hard to be too specific about them, but they clearly relate to the work planned for the volume of the History of Sexuality on Christianity and the 1979-80 course Du gouvernement du vivants. One note is to a journal article on Augustine published in 1980, but given Foucault filed notes thematically and not chronologically that just gives a first possible date for that page alone, though it is a good indication for the work as a whole. Foucault says that he prepared notes on Augustine for his October 1980 seminars at Berkeley but did not have time to deliver them – either there or at Dartmouth in November. But he discusses Augustine a little in the ‘Sexuality and Solitude’ lecture at NYU between these two short courses. The material here would certainly reinforce that work, but goes far beyond what we have as a published record. In the last two folders of the box there are materials that appear to be from a slightly later date – they include a copy of a journal article from 1982 – on Christianity in relation to parrēsia and cynicism.

Boxes 20-23, which I’ve yet to look at, are catalogued as being on ‘Réforme, Pères de l’Eglise, etc.’, so these notes in Box 24 could simply just be a continuation of those. There is no indication in Foucault’s own handwriting that there is any other break: the only thing that indicates that there is one comes from the BNF catalogue and the archivist’s description in the box.

Box 25 does contain seminar material from the Collège de France, with the first few folders relating to the project on hospital architecture from 1974 running in parallel to Psychiatric Power. The key outputs from this work were the three lectures from Rio from late 1974 on medicine and health, and then 1976’s Les machines à guerir, including Foucault’s essay ‘The Politics of Health in the Eighteenth Century’. (That book relates to an earlier 1976 report, and is reissued with amended material in 1979.) Most of this box at the BNF contains photocopied extracts of source material, and several reproductions of architectural diagrams. There are some notes that are not in Foucault’s handwriting, in I think three hands. I think one of them is Blandine Barret-Kriegel. Some of these notes (unlike Foucault’s) are dated – all to late 1973, which makes sense given the date of the seminar. In folder 4 a note signed by Bruno Fortier, one of Foucault’s collaborators on this work, begins a sequence of photocopied plans and descriptions of prisons and asylums. Folder 5 includes material on plans for ‘twelve ideal cities’, and lots more articles on prison design, some sent to Foucault by Fortier, and including some photocopy requests from Royal Institute of British Architects (to Fortier) and the Institut National de Recherche et de documentation Pedagogues (to Foucault). We know that Foucault says it was his work on hospital architecture which led him to Bentham’s Panopticon, though there is no trace on this here.

Folder 26 contains materials relating to the Pierre Rivière project – Foucault’s seminars on the topic, the collaborative volume that appeared with Gallimard in 1973, and the 1976 film. I’d hoped there might be the transcription of Rivière’s memoir that Jean-Pierre Peter made for the seminar, but it is not here. I’d also hoped there would be details of how the seminar worked – they discovered the case in the first year, worked on it in the second year, and prepared the dossier for publication in the third. Nonetheless there is some interesting material in this folder, including a very detailed map of Rivière’s journey between the murder and the arrest. I had a discussion of the project in Chapter Six, and it’s allowed me to fill out the account a bit more.

I’ve now had four visits to this archive, each of about a week. In that time I’ve worked through the five boxes of older material – NAF28284 (1-5), which comprise the drafts of Histoire de la sexualité volumes II and III, and the early draft of L’archaeologie du savoir – and eleven boxes of the more recently available material. There are some other boxes listed which I’d like to get through before I submit this book, especially the five boxes relating to “Pouvoir psychiatrique, Anormaux, etc. (Cours)”. I have a day and a half here again in early December, when I’m visiting IMEC, but I’ll need time beyond that. There are also several boxes relating to Foucault’s books from the 1960s that are outside the remit of the current project. I’m sure the material relating to Histoire de la folie and Naissance de la Clinique will be especially interesting. Perhaps in time I will write another book on Foucault in the 1960s that looks at this material, but I’d like the pre-Collège de France courses, especially from Vincennes and Tunis to be published first. There are also materials relating to later lecture courses at the BNF that became available after I’d finished the work for Foucault’s Last Decade, but which ideally I’ll get to work through at some point. One thing I’ve found is that the overall catalogue titles can be misleading. Given that, and that the thematic arrangement by Foucault incorporates notes from different periods together, there may well be valuable material on the 1969-75 period I’m now concentrating on almost anywhere.

Quite by chance, Henri-Paul Fruchaud – Foucault’s nephew and now one of his editors – was working at the desk next to me. I’d given Daniele Lorenzini some minor help for a volume he and Fruchaud are editing, and the archivist Marie Odile Germain had also mentioned I was working here this week, so Fruchaud knew who I was and introduced himself. We had a good conversation over a coffee about my work and the future publishing plans: there are several volumes in the works. The next one, due in early 2016, will be a critical edition of the 1983 Berkeley lectures on parrēsia, which we have in English as Fearless Speech. This will appear with Vrin in the same series as L’origine de l’herméneutique de soi and Qu’est-ce que la critique? suivi de La culture de soi which came out in 2013 and 2015.

This week I’m giving lectures on Shakespeare at UCL and Cambridge (details here), and then back up to Warwick to examine a PhD. I’ll be back in Paris at the end of the month, en route to Caen to work at the IMEC archive.

Links to my series of updates on the books’ progress can be found here and audio and video recordings of talks on the work are here.

Some translations, scans and links are available at Foucault Resources.

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Shiloh Krupar, ‘Operation Banality’ – second Neil Smith lecture at St Andrews

Shiloh Krupar will give the second Neil Smith lecture at St Andrews on Tuesday – ‘Operation Banality: Medical Geographies of Administration and the Biopolitical Grotesque’.


Thanks to Derek Gregory’s Geographical Imaginations for the link – also reports lecture will be online after the event.

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Crisis: Knowledge, History, Law – University of Kent, 29th January 2016

Zartaloudis_3Crisis: Knowledge, History, Law – University of Kent, 29th January 2016

One-day Workshop of the Social Critiques of Law Research Group (SoCriL), 29th January 2016, Darwin Conference Suite 3, University of Kent

Free, Registration requested via the link below:

Organizer: Thanos Zartaloudis (Kent Law School & AA School of Architecture)

Assistants: Michalis Zivanaris (PhD Candidate, Kent Law School) & Gian Giacomo Fusco (PhD Candidate, Kent Law School)

Funded by: Social Critiques of Law Research Group (Directors: Emilie Cloatre & Donatella Alessandrini) & Kent Law School, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK

Confirmed Speakers:

  • Janet Roitman (The New School for Social Research, New York)
  • Emanuele Coccia (Centre d’Histoire et Théorie des Arts (CEHTA – EHESS), Paris, and The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America, Columbia University)
  • Marika Rose (University of Durham, Department of Theology and Religion)
  • Anton Schütz (Birkbeck College, School of Law)
  • Esther Leslie (Birkbeck College, Department of English and Humanities)
  • Stathis Gourgouris (Columbia University, Classics, English; Institute for Comparative Literature and Society)
  • Ilias Papagianopoulos (University of Piraeus, International and European Studies)
  • Marina Lathouri (Architectural Association, London, School of Architecture & University of Cambridge, School of Architecture)
  • Bo Isenberg (Lund University, Faculty of Sociology)

More details here; details on thematic outline and indicative reading, please see here – pdf download; for more information on the conference please contact Thanos Zartaloudis.

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The Territories and Majesty of Shakespeare’s King John – UCL Monday 23 November 2015

I’ll be giving a talk with the title of ‘The Territories and Majesty of Shakespeare’s King John’ tonight at UCL.

Monday 23rd November, 6pm, IAS Talking Points seminar, Common Ground, University College London – with responses by Professor Helen Hackett, Department of English and Dr James Kneale, Department of Geography. Free pre-registration is requested.mercator_map

This lecture will discuss Shakespeare’s play King John around two themes – the question of majesty and that of territories. Majesty is a continual concern throughout the play, described as ‘borrowed’, ‘banished’, ‘resembling’, ‘dangerous’ or ‘the bare-picked bone’. John is seen as a usurping monarch, denying Arthur his rightful inheritance, but by the end of the play majesty has been so diminished by events it is perhaps worth very little. But what is that majesty over? Among other things, it is the lands of the kingdom. King John is one of only a handful of Shakespeare’s plays in which the word ‘territories’ appears. There is one mention in the opening scene, and one in the final act. The first of these had caused editors much confusion, because it is used with a definite article – ‘the territories’ – rather than a possessive ‘his’, ‘her’, ‘its’ or ‘their’ territories. What might this mean, and what might it indicate? Thinking about these questions of majesty, land, and territories, the talk will discuss how King John and contemporary play The Troublesome Reign of King John anticipate the dual themes of domestic disorder and foreign conquest found in Shakespeare’s other history plays.

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Top posts on Progressive Geographies this week

Very few new posts this week – I was in Paris working at the Bibliothèque Nationale, and the manuscripts reading room does not have wifi. Very good for working with no distractions! More on the work I did there on the Foucault project on Monday.


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Before and after peer-review in a diagram


This is rather good – from via Laurence Berg.

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Save Ashgate Publishing

A petition to save Ashgate press is here.

Ashgate Publishing Company was purchased by Informa (Taylor & Francis Publishing) in 2015. On November 24th, 2015, the North American office of the press in Burlington, Vermont will close and Ashgate’s US staff members, including Erika Gaffney, Ann Donahue, Margaret Michniewicz, Alyssa Berthiaume, Kathy Bond Borie, Seth Hibbert, Stephanie Peake, Martha McKenna, Lea Durfee, Suzanne Sprague, and Emilly Ferro will cease to be representatives of Ashgate.

According to an e-mail sent to series editors, plans are still being discussed for Ashgate’s publishing business in the UK. However, information has since emerged that the UK office is scheduled to close in December.

Independent academic presses like Ashgate have offered a safe haven for scholars working in certain subfields as University presses closed entire publishing specializations and fired editorial staff in response to campus austerity measures. Academic presses are more than profit margins, income from the backlist, utility bills, payroll, and marketing campaigns. Ashgate flourished through the bonds formed between editors and authors, the care and attention of copy editors, and above all, the good will of authors and readers. We the undersigned authors, readers, and reviewers of Ashgate books write to voice our appreciation for the accomplishments of Ashgate’s North American office. We urge Taylor & Francis to reverse course immediately and restore Ashgate’s US and UK offices.

9780754646556.jpgI’ve only worked with Ashgate once, but it was a good experience. Jeremy Crampton and I were struggling to find a publisher for the Space, Knowledge and Power: Foucault and Geography collection, and Val Rose at Ashgate understood the project and supported it. We even managed to get them to agree to a simultaneous paperback and hardback, and it has done, for an academic book and especially an edited collection, very well. Ashgate’s pricing strategy is something I’ve complained about before, but they supported books that other presses would not, so they deserve support. Please do sign the petition and share.

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