Canguilhem – book for Polity’s Key Contemporary Thinkers series, forthcoming 2019

My study of Georges Canguilhem was resubmitted earlier this month. It’s now been accepted in final form and will appear in Polity’s Key Contemporary Thinkers series in early 2019.

As I’ve mentioned before, the book developed out of the work I’ve been doing on the very early Foucault. Here’s the book description:

Georges Canguilhem (1904-1995) was an influential historian and philosopher of science, as renowned for his teaching as for his writings. He is best known for his book The Normal and the Pathological, originally his doctoral thesis in medicine, but he also wrote a thesis in philosophy on the concept of the reflex, supervised by Gaston Bachelard. He was the sponsor of Michel Foucault’s doctoral thesis on madness. However, his work extends far beyond what is suggested by his association with these thinkers. Canguilhem also produced a series of important works on the natural sciences, including studies of evolution, psychology, vitalism and mechanism, experimentation, monstrosity and disease.

Stuart Elden discusses the whole of this important thinker’s complex work, including recently rediscovered texts and archival materials. Canguilhem always approached questions historically, examining how it was that we came to a significant moment in time, outlining tensions, detours and paths not taken. The first comprehensive study in English, this book is a crucial guide for those coming to terms with Canguilhem’s important contributions, and will appeal to researchers and students from a range of fields.

Here’s the table of contents:


1. Foundations

2. The Normal and the Pathological

3. Philosophy of Biology

4. Physiology and the Reflex

5. Regulation and Psychology

6. Evolution and Monstrosity

7. Philosophy of History

8. Writings on Medicine

9. Legacies


Foucault and Canguilhem

Jean Hyppolite, Michel Foucault, Georges Canguilhem, Dina Dreyfus, 1965 (source: Institut national de l’audiovisuel, via Foucault Blog)

Posted in Canguilhem, Gaston Bachelard, Georges Canguilhem, Michel Foucault, The Early Foucault, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stuart Elden, ‘Why should people interested in territory read Shakespeare?’ – Territory, Politics, Governance

Publication CoverStuart Elden, ‘Why should people interested in territory read Shakespeare?‘ – Territory, Politics, Governance (requires subscription or contact me).

A new short article from me, which acts as a kind of preview of the forthcoming book Shakespearean Territories. My thanks to Martin Jones, John Agnew and the others at the journal for asking me to write this.

This paper argues that territory is more than a simple concept, and that William Shakespeare is a valuable guide to understanding its complexities. Shakespeare’s plays explore many aspects of geography, politics and territory. They include ideas about the division of kingdoms in King Lear, the struggle over its control in Macbeth and many of the English history plays, to the vulnerability of small territories with powerful neighbours in Hamlet. However, the plays also help us to understand the legal and economic issues around territory, of the importance of technical innovations around surveying and cartography, and the importance of landscapes and bodies. Shakespeare is especially interesting because debates in political theory at this time concerned a recognizably modern understanding, and European states were consolidating their own rule, marking boundaries and seizing colonial possessions. Shakespeare dramatizes many of these themes, from The Tempest to plays set in the Eastern Mediterranean such as Othello. Territory is a word, concept and practice, and their interrelation is explored with Shakespeare as a guide. This builds on the author’s previous work on territory, but also develops the understanding further, especially around the colonial, corporeal and geophysical. Historical work on our contemporary concepts can also be revealing of our present.

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E-IR interview with Lisa Tilley

E-IR interview with Lisa Tilley

Lisa Tilley is Lecturer in Politics and Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London. She is also co-convenor of the Colonial, Postcolonial, Decolonial Working Group of the British International Studies Association (CPD-BISA); co-founder of the collaborative research project Raced Markets; and Associate Editor of the pedagogical resource. Her work draws on various theoretical approaches to ‘the colonial question’ in analyses of Global Social Theoryprocesses of accumulation and expropriation, especially along urban and rural extractive frontiers in Indonesia.

Where do you see the most exciting debates happening in your field?

Race has really been the neglected, or deliberately proscribed, category in political economy, the field I am trained in. In fact, the exclusion/displacement of race from analyses of power and the economy is not separable from broader projects of exclusion/displacement of racialised persons in real life spheres. As such, a great deal of work needs to be done to rewrite global political economic histories, revise the core concepts we work with, and redesign curricula to properly account for the complex legacies, and elaborate renewals, of colonial racial ordering. There is, of course, extensive work on race already in existence which continues to be marginalised from most teaching and from disciplinary canon formation. The most vibrant scholarship on political economy is undoubtedly crafted (as it always has been) by Indigenous and otherwise racialised intellectuals and, at its best, this work attends to racial ordering in relation to class, gender, and sexuality too. [continues]

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Judith Wambacq, Thinking Between Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty – reviewed at NDPR

OUP56Q220A944Judith Wambacq, Thinking Between Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty – reviewed at NDPR by Laura McMahon.

Thinking between Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty is the first book-length examination of the relation between these two major thinkers of the twentieth century. Questioning the dominant view that the two have little of substance in common, Judith Wambacq brings them into a compelling dialogue to reveal a shared, historically grounded concern with the transcendental conditions of thought. Both Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze propose an immanent ontology, differing more in style than in substance. Wambacq’s synthetic treatment is nevertheless critical; she identifies the limitations of each thinker’s approach to immanent transcendental philosophy and traces its implications—through their respective relationships with Bergson, Proust, Cézanne, and Saussure—for ontology, language, artistic expression, and the thinking of difference. Drawing on primary texts alongside current scholarship in both French and English, Thinking between Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty is comprehensive and rigorous while remaining clear, accessible, and lively. It is certain to become the standard text for future scholarly discussion of these two major influences on contemporary thought.

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Sara Custer, ‘Social media: the good, the bad and the ugly’, Times Higher Education

Sara Custer, ‘Social media: the good, the bad and the ugly‘, Times Higher Education – may require registration, but should be free to read.

With about one-third of Earth’s 7 billion inhabitants on a social network, it is an inevitable part of scholars’ lives. While many academics find Twitter and Facebook useful means of disseminating their research, Sara Custer finds that the addictive seeking of ‘likes’ has its perils.

I was one of the academics interviewed, and while my comments quoted are all about avoiding social media and blocking sites, I do of course think there are positives too!


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Books received – Fordham University Press and Steven Seegel, Map Men


A pile of books from Fordham University Press in recompense for review work, and Steven Seegel, Map Men: Transnational Lives and Deaths of Geographers in the Making of East Central Europe, sent by University of Chicago Press. The Fordham books are a number of books by or on Esposito, Derrida, Wahl, etc. but also Louise Westling, The Logos of the Living World: Merleau-Ponty, Animals, and Language, Jacques Lezra, On the Nature of Marx’s Things: Translation as Necrophilology, the collection Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon, Rajani Sudan, The Alchemy of Empire and Vanessa Lemm, Nietzsche’s Animal Philosophy.

Posted in Friedrich Nietzsche, Jacques Derrida, Karl Marx, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Roberto Esposito, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CFP: Warwick Graduate Conference in Security Studies ‘Post-Truth Politics and the Age of Insecurity’, 18-19 October 2018

Call for Papers: Warwick Graduate Conference in Security Studies ‘Post-Truth Politics and the Age of Insecurity’

18 October – 19 October 2018; Venue: Scarman

Keynote Speaker: Prof. Ruth Wodak, Lancaster University/University of Vienna, Author of: The Politics of Fear: What Right-wing Populist Discourses Mean

The ‘West’ is experiencing a period of profound insecurity. Disruptions caused by digitisation, mass migration and globalisation have put pressure on democratic institutions and liberal societies to adapt, while the global financial crisis and its aftermath have eroded the public’s trust in the economic competence and political accountability of national governments. In Europe, the project of ‘ever-closer union’ has come under strain from the impact of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’, the UK’s Brexit decision, and a rise of right-wing populism among its member states. In the United States, President Donald Trump is advocating a political agenda of economic nationalism and nativist populism that seems to mark the end of a US-led liberal world order.

Most disturbingly maybe for academic research, the age of insecurity has given rise to a new form of post-truth politics that supplants evidence-based reasoning with ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’. In the light of these developments, the 2018 Warwick Graduate Conference in Security Studies seeks to critically explore the interconnections and implications of political, economic and cultural insecurity, and the relationship between knowledge, identity and (in)security in a global context.

Papers are welcome especially (but not exclusively) from PhD students and early career researchers that address one or more of the following questions:

  • How can we define, locate, and analyse (in)security in an age of post-truth politics?
  • What is the relationship between identity, knowledge, and (in)security?
  • What are the challenges of studying post-truth politics from a critical security studies perspective?
  • Is insecurity primarily driven by internal or external factors?
  • Is the rise of contemporary populism in the West an anti-elite revolt or the project of illiberal elites?
  • How can we study the political impact of alternative means of knowledge production and competing identity claims, and resistance against post-truth politics from different viewpoints (race, gender, non-Western perspectives)?

If you are interested in chairing a panel, acting as discussant, or participating with a paper, please send your details, and for a paper contribution an abstract of not more than 250 words to Georg Löfflmann:

Deadline for abstracts: 31 August 2018

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Derrida seminars – details of forthcoming volumes and translations

Taken from the Derrida Seminar Translations Project, these are the forthcoming volumes (I’ve added links to publisher pages for the first):

All publication dates for the following volumes are projected.

Theory and Practice (1976-77), translated by David Wills, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018

La vie la mort (1975-76), Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2019

Séminaire: Le Parjure et le pardon, volume I (1997-1998), Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2019

Life Death, translated by Michael Naas and Pascale-Anne Brault, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020

Perjury and Pardon, Volume I, translated by David Wills, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2021

Séminaire: Le Parjure et le pardon, volume II (1998-1999), Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2020

Perjury and Pardon, Volume II, translated by David Wills, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2022

The already published volumes are listed here, and the University of Chicago Press series page here.

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Alexander B. Murphy, Geography: Why It Matters forthcoming from Polity

9781509523009.jpgAlexander B. Murphy, Geography: Why It Matters forthcoming from Polity

Ever since humans sketched primitive maps in the dirt, the quest to understand our surroundings has been fundamental to our survival. Studying geography revealed that the earth was round, showed our ancestors where to plant crops, and helped them appreciate the diversity of the planet.

Today, the physical and social composition of the world is changing at an unprecedented pace, as a result of rising sea levels, deforestation, species extinction, rapid urbanization and mass migration. Modern technologies have brought people from across the globe into contact with each other, with enormous political and cultural consequences. As a subject concerned with how people, environments, and places are organized and interconnected, geography provides a critical window into where things happen, why they happen where they do, and how geographic context influences environmental processes and human affairs. These perspectives make the study of geography more relevant than ever, yet it remains little understood.

In this engrossing book, Alec Murphy explains why geography is so important to the current moment. He invites readers to ‘think geographically’, casting a new light on familiar problems.?

Introducing Polity’s Why It Matters series: In these short and lively books, world-leading thinkers make the case for the importance of their subjects and aim to inspire a new generation of students.

Details of the whole Why It Matters series are here – Tim Ingold wrote one on Anthropology, and there are others on Linguistics, History and Classics.

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Catherine Soussloff, “Foucault on Painting” podcast (2018)

Soussloff’s book is very good, so this should be interesting.

Foucault News

Catherine Soussloff, “Foucault on Painting” (U Minnesota Press, 2017) podcast

In Foucault on Painting (University of Minnesota Press, 2017), Catherine Soussloff discusses an area of Foucault’s development that has remained largely overlooked: his engagement with painting.  Indeed Foucault, we learn, described himself as a painter.  Throughout his career, he examined painting and the image as he pursued critical elements of his philosophical ideas. Soussloff examines Foucault’s engagement with periods in European art history that captured his attention in particular: the Baroque, mid-nineteenth century French painting, Surrealism, and figurative painting of the 1960s and 1970s. The book also considers Foucault’s interest in five artists: Velázquez, Manet, Magritte, Rebeyrolle, and Fromanger. Soussloff’s study reveals the importance of art in Foucault’s philosophy, and affirms the relevancy of Foucault in consideration of the role of the image in the twenty first Century.

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