Top posts this week on Progressive Geographies

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Review of Virginia Comolli, Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Islamist Insurgency at African Arguments

Bomolli_BHBookVirginia Comolli, Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Islamist Insurgency is reviewed at African Arguments. Along with Mike Smith’s Boko Haram: Inside Nigeria’s Unholy War, these look to be the key English books on the group.

My bibliography of articles (last updated in 2014) can be found here; and my own essay “The geopolitics of Boko Haram and Nigeria’s ‘war on terror’” here.


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Justin E.H. Smith, Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference: Race in Early Modern Philosophy – now out

Justin E.H. Smith, Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference: Race in Early Modern Philosophy is now out from Princeton University Press. I really liked his book on Leibniz, Divine Machines, so this should be interesting. The introduction can be downloaded here.


People have always been xenophobic, but an explicit philosophical and scientific view of human racial difference only began to emerge during the modern period. Why and how did this happen? Surveying a range of philosophical and natural-scientific texts, dating from the Spanish Renaissance to the German Enlightenment, Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference charts the evolution of the modern concept of race and shows that natural philosophy, particularly efforts to taxonomize and to order nature, played a crucial role.

Smith demonstrates how the denial of moral equality between Europeans and non-Europeans resulted from converging philosophical and scientific developments, including a declining belief in human nature’s universality and the rise of biological classification. The racial typing of human beings grew from the need to understand humanity within an all-encompassing system of nature, alongside plants, minerals, primates, and other animals. While racial difference as seen through science did not arise in order to justify the enslavement of people, it became a rationalization and buttress for the practices of trans-Atlantic slavery. From the work of François Bernier to G. W. Leibniz, Immanuel Kant, and others, Smith delves into philosophy’s part in the legacy and damages of modern racism.

With a broad narrative stretching over two centuries, Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference takes a critical historical look at how the racial categories that we divide ourselves into came into being.

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Andy Merrifield has a blog

Andy Merrifield has a blog – 

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Foucault and May 1968 (2015)


Ewald, Harcourt and Velasco discuss Foucault and May 1968

Originally posted on Foucault News:

Foucault and May 1968

Published on 18 Jun 2015

François Ewald (CNAM), Bernard Harcourt (Columbia Law School, Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought), and Jesús R. Velasco (LAIC Chair, Columbia University) delve into the influences and effects of Michel Foucault’s lectures at the College de France, Penal Theories and Institutions (1971-1972). The panelists explore how the social unrest of 1968 influenced Foucault as he began to work out theories on repressive disciplinary penal systems that he would develop fully in one of his most important works, Discipline and Punish.

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Foucault’s Last Decade update 24 – other work while waiting for the reports, and the draft cover blurb

unnamedThis has been the period between submitting the Foucault’s Last Decade manuscript and waiting for reader reports. I’ve largely been doing other things – talks on terrain and urban territory; editing a Lefebvre translation and writing its introduction; writing a response to a review forum on The Birth of Territory; a review of David Farrell Krell’s The Phantom of the Other for Derrida Today; short pieces on ‘Theory and Other Languages’ and ‘Writing by Accumulation’ (a little more here) – and not fully embarking on Foucault: The Birth of Power just yet. But this isn’t to say I haven’t done anything concerning Foucault.

I became particularly interested in Foucault’s 1983 seminar at Berkeley, which ran alongside the parrēsia lectures that became Fearless Speech. I’ve previously shared a “who’s who” of the people in the well-known ‘cowboy hat’ photograph. As a result I spoke to Keith Gandal by phone, and Arturo Escobar, David Horn, David Levin, Jerry Wakefield, Mark Maslan and Paul Rabinow by email, about their links to Foucault. I also had a brief but helpful email exchange with Peter Brown, the historian of late antiquity, in terms of his relation to Foucault in the 1980s.

I’ve also been doing some audio editing. Alongside my own writing projects on him, I’ve been working with some archive recordings of Foucault which will hopefully be published for the first time. The recording of one lecture is not great quality – think rock bootleg from the fifteenth row and you’re about there. Lots of noise, a very squeaky chair, laughs, coughs and what sounds like a dog barking at one point. The applause is much louder than anything else, so the recording clips. Much is very quiet, but hugely variable quality. I use Audacity to format the recordings of my own lectures, but I’m working with a much better source file then. This has challenged my ability much more – I want to get a fairly good, clear recording to give to a transcriber. More on these when publication possibilities are clearer.

I also tracked down the last few remaining pieces and submitted my bibliography of ‘The Uncollected Foucault’ to Foucault Studies, and it should be out later this year. It aims to be a comprehensive list of pieces which do not appear in Foucault’s books, lecture courses or the Dits et écrits collection – 95 pieces in total. In the meantime, links to many of the pieces I uncovered can be found here. I also wrote a long review of Théories et institutions pénales for Berfrois, and a short review of the new translation Language, Madness, and Desire: On Literature for Cultural Geographies. I’ve been writing a short piece on ‘Foucault and Shakespeare’, which will be given as a talk at the King’s College London event on ‘Theatre, Performance, Foucault!’ in July, but it’s clearly becoming more than a conference paper. It’s quite a nice link between the Foucault work and the ongoing Shakespeare project.

The reader reports on Foucault’s Last Decade have now arrived, so I have some work to do to address them. But I’m looking forward to getting this book into production and turning to the earlier period. Here’s the draft cover blurb for Foucault’s Last Decade. We’re now discussing the cover.

On 26 August 1974, Michel Foucault completed work on Discipline and Punish, and on that very same day began writing the first volume of the History of Sexuality. A little under ten years later, on 25 June 1984, shortly after the second and third volumes were published, he was dead.

This decade is one of the most fascinating of his career. It begins with the initiation of the sexuality project, and ends with its enforced and premature closure. Yet in 1974 he had something very different in mind for the History of Sexuality than the way things were left in 1984. Foucault originally planned a thematically organised series of six volumes, but wrote little of what he promised and published none of them. Instead over the course of the next decade he took his work in very different directions, studying, lecturing and writing about historical periods stretching back to antiquity.

This book offers a detailed intellectual history of both the abandoned thematic project and the more properly historical version left incomplete at his death. It draws on all Foucault’s writings in this period, his courses at the Collège de France and lectures elsewhere, as well as material archived in France and California to provide a comprehensive overview and synthetic account of Foucault’s last decade.

You can read more about these books, along with links to previous updates, here.

Posted in Conferences, Territory, Publishing, Michel Foucault, Shakespearean Territories, Foucault's Last Decade, Foucault: The Birth of Power | 2 Comments

Good advice on ‘A Realistic Summer Writing Schedule’ from The Chronicle

Lots of people have been sharing this good advice on ‘A Realistic Summer Writing Schedule‘ from The Chronicle Vitae.

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a sneak preview of the fourth edition of Visual Methodologies


Gillian Rose gives an interesting insight into the revision process for the fourth edition of her book Visual Methodologies.

Originally posted on visual/method/culture:

I’ve been working on the fourth edition of Visual Methodologies on and off since January, squeezing it in the gaps between way too many other projects. As a result, it’s rather hard to have an overview of the beast (also because I seem to find it impossible to delete any more than a few sentences and a handful of references from each new edition). But I’m now facing the final run-through of the whole thing, when of course it will be lovingly burnished into a seamless whole, cough cough.

So I thought it might be interesting to note down a few of the things that I have learnt so far in preparing this new edition.  More may follow as I reread things I’ve forgotten that I’ve written.  (Yes, yes, I know, I need a holiday.)

1) one big change (for me at least) is that I’ve added a fourth site…

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Massimo Cacciari, The Witholding Power: An Essay on Political Theology – forthcoming from Bloomsbury

Massimo Cacciari, The Witholding Power: An Essay on Political Theology – forthcoming from Bloomsbury in December 2015.


The first English translation of his work, The Witholding Power, offers a fascinating introduction to the thought of Italian philosopher Massimo Cacciari, a prominent and provocative figure in Italian philosophy and political thought. Cacciari is a notoriously complex thinker but this title offers a starting point for entering into the very heart of his thinking. The Witholding Power provides a comprehensive and synthetic insight into his interpretation of Christian political theology and leftist Italian political theory more generally.

The theme of katechon – originally a biblical concept which has been developed into a political concept – has been absolutely central to the work of Italian philosophers such as Agamben and Eposito for nearly twenty years. In The Witholding Power, Cacciari sets forth his startlingly original perspective on the influence the theological-political questions have traditionally exerted upon ideas of power, sovereignty and the relationship between political and religious authority.

With a lengthy introduction by Howard Caygill contextualising the work within the history of Italian thought, this title will offer those coming to Cacciari for the first time a searing insight into his political, theological and philosophical milieu.

Thanks to Philippe Theophanidisfor the link, who also points out this is not the first English translation, and points to // // <meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0; URL=/?_fb_noscript=1″ />The Unpolitical. On the Radical Critique of Political Reason and The Necessary Angel. There is also a collection on Architecture and NihilismIncidentally, when did ‘withholding’ lose its double-h?

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Pluto Summer Sale – 40% off all books until July 10th


Pluto books sale

Originally posted on The Pluto Press Blog - Independent, radical publishing:

Summer Sale banner 2.1 smaller

The Pluto Summer Sale is now on! For the next two weeks all books on our website will be 40% off. You can activate the site-wide discount by clicking The offer ends on 10th July.

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