Foucault also struggled to get his students to do the reading…

2711627497.jpgI’ve previously shared one of Lacan’s comments from his seminar. Here’s Foucault on the same theme:

Has everyone read these texts? Yes? No? Nobody? Well, I will have to punish you, that’s for sure! I’m not going to tell you how… That’s a surprise for the last day!

Dire vrai sur soi-même: Conférences prononcées à l’Université Victoria de Toronto, 1982, edited by Henri-Paul Fruchaud and Daniele Lorenzini, Paris: Vrin, 2017, p. 189

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The Early Foucault update 8: two days in the Carolina Rediviva library, Uppsala

Carolina Rediviva

Carolina Rediviva, Uppsala

My ongoing research into Foucault’s research and the writing of his History of Madness has taken me to Uppsala, where Foucault worked between 1955 and 1958. This was just a very brief reconnaissance trip – made possible as a side-visit following the Nordic Geographers Meeting in Stockholm. I have been working in the Carolina Rediviva library of Uppsala University, which among other things houses the archives of the Alliance Française. Foucault directed their cultural programme and taught French literature at the University. I found all the course records giving titles and topics for Foucault’s teaching – though none of the content seems to have survived, unfortunately – and some information on events which took place while he was here. I also found some photographs of Foucault and various newspaper clippings, preserved in the scrapbooks of the president of the Alliance.

Maison de France

Former site of the ‘Maison de France’

Foucault ran the cultural programme from the ‘Maison de France’, which is just a few minutes walk from the Carolina Rediviva library. The current address is an unassuming building, and it’s certainly no longer used by the Alliance Française, but I thought I would take a quick look at the site.

Foucault also made extensive use of the library collection, especially the ‘Bibliotheca Walleriana’ – a massive collection of works on the history of medicine bequeathed by Erik Waller. Foucault’s biographers note that the Bibliotheca Walleriana was catalogued in 1955 – the very year Foucault arrived in Uppsala. I’d imagined that the catalogue would be some kind of paper document, perhaps now available online, or a card index, but it’s actually a massive two volume book. There is now a dedicated search engine, but the printed book is invaluable. Of course the library here has a copy – the one I used in the reference library was a later facsimile bound as a single volume – but it is also available in some other research libraries. The catalogue will be a useful guide as I try to do some more work in this area.

Because of renovation work the library was only open for three hours each day, and was entirely closed for the midsummer’s eve holiday on Friday. I therefore didn’t have nearly as much time as I’d hoped, but as an initial trip it was very useful, and I hope to get back at some point.

The previous updates on this project are here; and Foucault’s Last Decade and Foucault: The Birth of Power are now both available from Polity. Several Foucault research resources such as bibliographies, short translations, textual comparisons and so on are available here.

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CFP: META Middle East Topics & Arguments – Infrastructure

call for papers #10: Infrastructure
Editors: Amina Nolte, Ezgican Özdemir

Publication date: Spring 2018

The peer-reviewed online journal “Middle East – Topics & Arguments” (META) is calling for submissions for its tenth issue on the topic of “Infrastructure”.

Infrastructure points to the ultimate conceptual debates of social science; it highlights the strong connections between material things, lives, and practice with immaterial and ideational aspects of human life. Furthermore, infrastructural matters like pipes, dams, walls, grids, cables, etc. reveal and, even more so, complicate the relationship between nature and humanity. We believe that studying infrastructure leads to new horizons of understanding people’s socio-political, moral and affective worlds and how they relate to conceptions of nature. Infrastructure as the topic for the tenth issue of Middle East – Topics & Arguments (META) offers a variety of conceptual approaches from many disciplines, such as history, anthropology, sociology, political science, cultural studies, media studies and economics (among others), as the topic connects the research on practices of everyday life with questions of planning, state politics and local and global neoliberal developments. Further, Infrastructure provides an interesting departure point to study the material entanglements of infrastructure with modes of its facilitation and representation.

Infrastructures, such as transportation, energy and water networks, facilitate everyday life, while at the same time rupture it at any given moment. They assemble all kinds of actors and agents once they are brought into being. As manifestations of diverging interests, infrastructures are always bound with relations of power and domination. They hence do not only embody and reproduce power relations, but also engender sites of resistance and subversion in times of social crises. These understandings of infrastructures will help us to study them as much more than technological accomplishments of the present, but rather as cultural semiotics that are deeply embedded in everyday politics and social relations. [more details here]


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The PolGRG Book Award (2017-2018) in coordination with Political Geography Journal

News of a Political Geography book award – nominations by end of September 2017.

Political Geography Research Group

We are delighted to announce that the Political Geography Research Group Royal Geographic Society (PolGRG) Book Award received positive endorsement at the PolGRG AGM in London, in September 2016. Phil Steinberg (Editor of the journal Political Geography) has confirmed interest and sponsorship with the Political Geography publisher at Elsevier. The PolGRG/PG Book Award was officially launched at the PolGRG AGM on 13 June 2016.

About the PolGRG Book Award

The PolGRG / Political Geography co-sponsored Book Award is an award recognising new academic volumes whose theme engages with the interests of PolGRG and, more widely, contributes to the subdiscipline of political geography. Political geography concerns a wide variety of diverse issues connected with relationships between space and power.

Which books are eligible?

In line with the diversity of PolGRG interests and membership, the PolGRG Book Award is aimed at published volumes stirring interest and debate around: territoriality and sovereignty…

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Territory Beyond Terra, edited by Kimberley Peters, Philip Steinberg, and Elaine Stratford – forthcoming in December 2017

593b8b09f5ba741adc68db03Territory Beyond Terra, edited by Kimberley Peters, Philip Steinberg, and Elaine Stratford – forthcoming in December 2017.

At the root of our understanding of territory is the concept of terra—land—a surface of fixed points with stable features that can be calculated, categorised, and controlled. But what of the many spaces on Earth that defy this simplistic characterisation: Oceans in which ‘places’ are continuously re-formed? Air that can never be fully contained? Watercourses that obtain their value by transcending boundaries?

This book examines the politics of these spaces to shed light on the challenges of our increasingly dynamic world. Through a focus on the planet’s elements, environments, and edges, the contributors to Territory beyond Terra extend our understanding of territory to the dynamic, contentious spaces of contemporary politics.

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 Helen Sword, Air & Light & Time & Space: How Successful Academics Write reviewed at the LSE blog

9780674737709.jpgHelen Sword, Air & Light & Time & Space: How Successful Academics Write is reviewed at the LSE blog by Fawzia Haeri Mazanderani.

With Air & Light & Time & Space: How Successful Academics Write, Helen Sword explores how academics find the ‘air and light and time and space’ to write, drawing on interviews with 100 scholars seen as exemplary writers in their fields. In underscoring that there is no one ideal way to write, this is an elegantly crafted book for those who like to experiment with and think deeply about their writing practices, recommends Fawzia Haeri Mazanderani

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The Daily Routines of 12 Famous Writers

I’ve shared several of these types of posts in the past, but not, I think, this one: The Daily Routines of 12 Famous Writers

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ICE-LAW session at the Nordic Geographers conference, Stockholm

Tomorrow I head to Stockholm for the Nordic Geographers conference and my last talk of this academic year. I’ll be presenting as part of this session as part of the ICE-LAW project:

ICE LAW Session

14:15 – 17:00, 19 June 2017, at the Nordic Geographers Meeting, Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University (Frescati Campus, Room Y22), Stockholm, Sweden

1. Stuart Elden, The Materiality of Territory
2. Justiina Dahl, The Material Moral Purpose of the State: International Epistemic Authority Structure and the Northwards Expansion of the European International Society
3. Philip Steinberg, Berit Kristoffersen and Kristen Shake, Edges and Flows: Exploring Legal Materialities and Biophysical Politics at the Sea Ice Edge
4. Johanne Bruun, Terrain, Mobility, and Cold War Military Logistics on the Greenland Ice Sheet
5. Claudio Aporta, Aldo Chircop, Kate Coddington, Stephanie C. Kane and Leah Beveridge, Mobilities and Migrations in Northern Chokepoints: Navigating Risks and Setting Priorities in Geographically Confined Areas
6. Aldo Chircop, Is There Need to Rethink the ‘Rules of the Road’? Challenges for the International Navigation Rules in Arctic Waters
While much of my brief talk will relate to the work I’ve been doing on terrain – I shared a recent lecture on this yesterday – I’m also going to say a bit about the ICE-LAW project’s sub theme meeting in Amsterdam, where several people presented their work; and I might find a moment to say a very little bit about Shakespeare.
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Legal Terrain – video of my London Review of International Law lecture

lrilannuallecturelegalterraineldenIn February 2017 I gave the London Review of International Law annual lecture at SOAS under the title of ‘Legal Terrain: The Political Materiality of Territory’.

The plan is for the written article to appear in the journal later this year. I’ve previously shared a video of another version of the lecture, given in Oslo, but this one helpfully has the images integrated into the presentation.

The introduction to the lecture is by Matthew Craven.

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Refugee movements visualised, 2000-16 [update: and its problems]

Now with a link to Phil Steinberg’s critical commentary.

Progressive Geographies

Refugee movements visualised, 2000-16 – at mashable

An interactive visualisation – perhaps a good basis for class discussion.

mashableThanks to dmf for the link.

Update: Phil Steinberg has pointed me to a 2015 post in which he explored some of the problems with an earlier form of this visualisation.

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