A Time for Critique (2019)

A Time for Critique, Edited by Didier Fassin and Bernard E. Harcourt
Columbia University Press, 2019

Foucault News

A Time for Critique, Edited by Didier Fassin and Bernard E. Harcourt
Columbia University Press, 2019

In a world of political upheaval, rising inequality, catastrophic climate change, and widespread doubt of even the most authoritative sources of information, is there a place for critique? This book calls for a systematic reappraisal of critical thinking—its assumptions, its practices, its genealogy, its predicament—following the principle that critique can only start with self-critique.

In A Time for Critique, Didier Fassin, Bernard E. Harcourt, and a group of eminent political theorists, anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers, and literary and legal scholars reflect on the multiplying contexts and forms of critical discourse and on the social actors and social movements engaged in them. How can one maintain sufficient distance from the eventful present without doing it an injustice? How can one address contemporary issues without repudiating the intellectual legacies of the past? How can one…

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Alice Jardine, At the Risk of Thinking: An Intellectual Biography of Julia Kristeva – Bloomsbury, January 2020

9781501341342Alice Jardine, At the Risk of Thinking: An Intellectual Biography of Julia Kristeva – Bloomsbury, January 2020

At the Risk of Thinking is the first biography of Julia Kristeva–one of the most celebrated intellectuals in the world. Her some fifty books, translated across the globe, address topics such as the history of love, questions surrounding female genius, new forms of revolt, and the importance of understanding the history and influence of religion. She is the author of six novels and her prize-winning contributions have informed the fields of philosophy, literary criticism, critical theory, psychoanalysis, and feminism, among others.

Alice Jardine’s biography brings Kristeva’s work to a broader readership by connecting Kristeva’s personal journey–from her childhood in Communist Bulgaria to her adult life as an international public intellectual based in Paris–with the history of her ideas. This itinerary has recently taken on new meaning as Kristeva has been accused of spying for the Bulgarian Secret Services in the early 1970s–a totally unanticipated slap in the face by history. Informed in part by extensive interviews with Kristeva herself, this telling of a remarkable woman’s life story also clearly analyzes the complexities of Kristeva’s writing, emphasizing her call for an urgent revival of bold interdisciplinary thinking in order to understand–and to act–in today’s world.

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Le dossier sauvage/ The Wild File (2019

Philippe Artières, Le dossier sauvage

Foucault News

Philippe Artières, Le dossier sauvage, Verticales, Octobre 2019

« Enquêter sur des archives qui auraient été rassemblées par Michel Foucault. Déplier chacune de ses pièces pour suivre la trace d’individus qui se sont retirés du monde au XIXe et au XXe siècle. Redécouvrir, en marge du dossier, que dans une forêt des Vosges, il est un autre ermite qui a marqué mon enfance.
Lors du dépouillement de cette généalogie sauvage, il arrivera que je me perde, mais n’est-ce pas le propre du chercheur que de s’aventurer en un territoire où plus il avance plus ce qu’il croyait savoir se dérobe sous ses pas. » [Ph.A.]


From the outset Philippe Artières stages himself receiving a file entitled «Wild Lives» which seems to have been gathered by Michel Foucault. This unpublished collection contains bundles of documents on individuals who withdrew from the world in the 19th and 20th centuries. Among…

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Jane Hutton | Reciprocal Landscapes: Stories of Material Movements

Jane Hutton’s Reciprocal Landscapes: Stories of Material Movements


Jane Hutton’s Reciprocal Landscapes: Stories of Material Movements, is out with Routledge. I have been following Hutton’s work for a long time and I was eager to read this elaboration of her previous research on the relational political ecology of uneven material flows. Here is the summary:

https://images.tandf.co.uk/common/jackets/amazon/978113883/9781138830684.jpgHow are the far-away, invisible landscapes where materials come from related to the highly visible, urban landscapes where those same materials are installed? Reciprocal Landscapes: Stories of Material Movements traces five everyday landscape construction materials – fertilizer, stone, steel, trees, and wood – from seminal public landscapes in New York City, back to where they came from.

Drawing from archival documents, photographs, and field trips, the author brings these two separate landscapes – the material’s source and the urban site where the material ended up – together, exploring themes of unequal ecological exchange, labor, and material flows. Each chapter follows a single…

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Guillaume Le Blanc on Why Read Foucault’s Confessions of the Flesh Today?  – Critique 13/13

Guillaume le Blanc on Foucault’s Les aveux de la chair


In French, here.

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Althusser’s 1963 Presentation of Bourdieu and Passeron – translated and introduced in Theory, Culture & Society

tcsa_36_7-8.cover.pngOn 6 December 1963 Pierre Bourdieu and Passeron gave a seminar at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. They were introduced by Louis Althusser, and his introduction, translated by Rachel Gomme, along with a commentary by Charlotte Branchu and Derek Robbins has been published in Theory, Culture & Society (requires subscription).

The two abstracts follow:

This text derives from a recording, and transcripts, of the introduction which Althusser gave on 6 December 1963, to a seminar for students in the École Normale Supérieure, Paris, offered at his invitation by Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron. Althusser takes the opportunity to raise questions about the status of social science and suggests that Bourdieu and Passeron represent slightly different strands of contemporary research practice, partly as a result of their different formation and practice since themselves leaving the École. Althusser first considers the relation between the human sciences and the traditionally instituted Faculty of Letters or Humanities. What is the origin of the compulsion to constitute a science of human relations? Given that the social sciences have established themselves, Althusser then tries to define their nature. He suggests that they have three forms: as abstract and general theory, as ethnology, and as empirical sociology. He discusses the pros and cons of each in some detail. Althusser then asks what are the features which constitute sciences and concludes that they must always possess discrete theoretical perspectives corresponding with discrete components of reality but must also possess an element of self-referentiality or, as he puts it, must be objects to themselves. Althusser suggests that his contemporary social sciences are not philosophically adequate by the criteria which he advances. He proceeds to introduce Bourdieu and Passeron in such a way as to invite consideration of whether their practices meet his criteria.

The commentary provides contextual information about the seminar which Bourdieu and Passeron gave in the École Normale Supérieure on 6 December 1963. It appears that the intended series of seminars was curtailed, perhaps because the initial seminar of 6 December exposed the extent to which Althusser was formally managing the intentions of his guest speakers and resisting the implications of their ongoing research on students and their studies. The commentary argues that the conflict between Althusser and Bourdieu/Passeron was inter-generational in that Althusser’s attitudes had been shaped by his experience as a victim of Nazi oppression whereas those of Bourdieu/Passeron were defined, instead, by their unwilling participation in the French colonial oppression of indigenous Algerians. Althusser was intent on examining philosophically the validity of various contemporary versions of social science whereas Bourdieu and Passeron were engaged in educational research which was scrutinizing sociologically the validity of precisely this supposedly detached philosophical perspective. In short, the commentary is aligned with the Bourdieu/Passeron position in that it seeks to offer an historical sociology of the encounter of December 1963.

The issue contains a range of other great pieces, including essays on the Anthropocene, Deleuze, Sloterdijk, and interviews or dialogues with Bruno Latour, Vicki Kirby, Marc Lafrance and Etienne Balibar. Full table of contents here.
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Michel Foucault, Penal Theories and Institutions – Palgrave, January 2020? (was November 2019, and previously 2018)

Now rescheduled for January 2020 – though take that as provisional given previous delays. Thanks to Chathan Vemuri for the update.

Progressive Geographies

Update: the Palgrave site now says January 2020 24 November 2019 – but they have missed several previous dates…

Michel Foucault, Penal Theories and Institutions: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1971-1972 – Palgrave November 2018

“What characterizes the act of justice is not resort to a court and to judges; it is not the intervention of magistrates (even if they had to be simple mediators or arbitrators).  What characterizes the juridical act, the process or the procedure in the broad sense, is the regulated development of a dispute.  And the intervention of judges, their opinion or decision, is only ever an episode in this development.  What defines the juridical order is the way in which one confronts one another, the way in which one struggles. The rule and the struggle, the rule in the struggle, this is the juridical.”

Michel Foucault

Penal Theories and Institutions is the title Michel…

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Books received – Kuhn, Bradley, Mbembe, Fisher and Gotman (eds.), Derrida, Delay and Verdeaux

2019-11-22 18.27.42.jpg

The books by Kuhn and Delay and Verdeaux are for the work on the early Foucault; Arthur Bradley, Unbearable Life: A Genealogy of Political Erasure was sent by the publishers; and the Derrida and Mbembe books are newly out. Mbembe’s Necropolitics contains the essay of that title (unlike the French Politiques de l’inimité on which it is based), along with another chapter not in the French. Derrida’s seminar Le perjure et le pardon Volume I looks great, especially since it has a reading of Shakespeare, though I’ve not yet finished La vie la mort from earlier this year. (Details on the translations and other volumes are here.)

It’s also great to see a copy of Tony Fisher and Kélina Gotman (ed.), Foucault’s Theatres, in which I have a chapter on Foucault and Shakespeare.

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Conductas que importan. Variantes de análisis de los Estudios en Gubernamentalidad (2019)

Spanish collection on Foucault and governmentality, in which I have an essay.

Foucault News

Aldo Avellaneda y Guillermo Vega, (eds.) Conductas que importan. Variantes de análisis de los Estudios en Gubernamentalidad. EUDENE 2018.

Presentation: Wednesday, 27, 18:30. Salón de Actos, Facultad de Humanidades, Universidad Nacional del Nordeste, Argentina.

Los así llamados Governmentality Studies (Estudios en Gubernamentalidad) vieron la luz en el año 1991, si convenimos en otorgar crédito suficiente a la designación que Colin Gordon, Graham Burchel y Peter Miller emplearon para denominar una compilación de artículos que se hacían eco, de una u otra manera, del concepto foucaulteano de gobierno. En efecto, en la clase del primero de febrero de 1978 dictada en el Collège de France, Foucault se había enfocado en las artes de gobierno como modo específico de articulación de las relaciones de poder y en la gubernamentalidad como grilla de inteligibilidad de las mismas, dando de esta manera un giro vertiginoso sobre las estrategias de análisis de los…

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Jacques Derrida: La vie la mort: Séminaire (1975-1976) – Phenomenological Reviews

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