Décalages Vol 2 No 1 now published – Althusser and Gramsci

b73d386ec01e0e2e1c06f0542c52d4f5Décalages Vol 2 No 1 now published, with a range of multilingual papers on Althusser, especially focusing on his relation to Gramsci, a couple on the Althusser-Derrida relation and including a new translation of a letter from Althusser on Gramsci.

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Stern review of Research Excellence Framework

Lord Nicholas Stern’s review of the Research Excellence Framework is now available here. For those outside UK higher education, the REF is the means by which academic research is evaluated for league tables and funding.

This independent review makes recommendations on the future operation of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). The review examines how university research funding can be allocated more efficiently so that universities can focus on carrying out world-leading research.

The key recommendations seem to be that –

  • all research active staff should be returned
  • instead of four pieces for all people, an average number (which may be different), with some above and below that number
  • outputs are not portable – in other words, while you can hire someone, publications accepted prior to that date stay with the previous institution.
  • metrics should be used to supplement peer review, not supplant it
  • ‘impact’ should be understood more broadly

There are more recommendations, of course, but those seem to me to be the most important. It will take some time to digest. The idea that all research-active staff are returned is good, though there are still ways around this. But it might end some of the game-playing and difficulties of comparison – 66% return at 3.2 vs. 84% at 2.9, etc. The others all make sense (though I benefitted from the portability of outputs in the last submission), and let’s hope the government takes these very seriously. It doesn’t address some much more serious and deeper issues, and there is plenty making that case already. There is also the claim here that there should be no increased administration as a result of the REF and the new Teaching Excellence Framework. Let’s see that happen!

I’ve not seen many assessments of this report yet – please feel free to share links in comments.

Update: the ‘not portable’ idea will be a problem for people wanting to move, since their selling point of pieces accepted will no longer work in their favour. For high-profile hiring this may be the entire point, but it would count against anyone wanting to move, including it seems early career people coming to the end of a fixed-term position.

On looking at paragraphs 69 and 70, it seems that there is a recommendation to reduce the number of outputs assessed – if all research-active staff are assessed, it doesn’t want to increase the number of outputs assessed. ‘This may require the average number of outputs submitted per faculty member to be below 2, depending on the number of research active staff to be submitted.’ A drop to an average of 2, while likely to be applauded by some, could create some other difficulties. If two members of staff submit one and three pieces, respectively, how does workload take account of this?

There is a long standing madness, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned on the blog before, that each output is counted as one piece. So a journal article is one, as is a book. Obviously this bears no relation to the work involved in, or contribution to scholarship of these different types of outputs. In exceptional cases, a single piece of work could be submitted as double-weighted. I tried to make the case that, if anything I ever wrote was to be double-weighted, The Birth of Territory should be. But no, advice was taken and it was submitted as a single item. The argument was that I had more than enough other pieces, so it wasn’t necessary to double-weight it.

The Stern review does make this claim in paragraph 38:

Finding ways to ensure that the REF can encourage researchers to explore big or fundamental problems, in ways that may not deliver a steady stream of papers or a quick monograph; to deliver academically excellent synthesis of evidence and meta-analysis to support policy making; and to develop game changing ideas that, for example, can lead to the development of new disciplines, or that have significant impact outside their discipline, is a priority.

What a ‘quick monograph’ is remains unclear, though I wonder if they mean these increasingly popular short books (Palgrave Pivots, Sage Swifts, Chicago Shorts, Stanford Briefs, Minnesota Forerunners…) I’m not sure those are exactly quick, but they are a different type of output to a more standard length book of c.80-100,000 words.

Edited and translated books still don’t seem to figure as valuable outputs, despite the importance of such work, and the way such work is enabling of other work.

Some further thoughts are at Academic Irregularities.

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Colin Gordon reviews the Cambridge Foucault Lexicon in History of the Human Sciences

Now available open access for the rest of 2016 – http://hhs.sagepub.com/content/29/3/91.full.pdf+html

Progressive Geographies

9780521119214Colin Gordon reviews The Cambridge Foucault Lexiconin History of the Human Sciences (requires subscription). I hope a preprint will appear on Colin’s academia.edu page soon. It’s a very detailed review of a huge work, covering a wide range of the entries – and briefly mentioning my entry on ‘space’ with some nice praise.

Update: Sage have made the essay open access for the rest of 2016.

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Colin Gordon reviews the Cambridge Foucault Lexicon in History of the Human Sciences

9780521119214Colin Gordon reviews The Cambridge Foucault Lexicon in History of the Human Sciences (requires subscription). I hope a preprint will appear on Colin’s academia.edu page soon. It’s a very detailed review of a huge work, covering a wide range of the entries – and briefly mentioning my entry on ‘space’ with some nice praise.

Update: Sage have made the essay open access for the rest of 2016.

Posted in Colin Gordon, Michel Foucault, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Reading Marx in 1965; Reading Althusser et. al. and Lefebvre in 2016 at the Verso blog

I have a short piece at the Verso blog, entitled ‘Reading Marx in 1965; Reading Althusser et. al. and Lefebvre in 2016’.

Some of the most important works of post-war French Marxism were published in 1965. Louis Althusser’s For Marx was accompanied by his seminar group’s collaborative volume Reading Capital, and Henri Lefebvre’s Metaphilosophy appeared the same year. Both Reading Capital and Metaphilosophy now appear, in complete translations, from Verso. [continues here]

Both Reading Capital and Metaphilosophy are available at discounted prices, with bundled e-book, and are available at 50% off if you buy both, or any two from Verso’s discounted theory list.

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Foucault, the Archive and the Writing of Intellectual History – audio of lecture

2nd_annual_pais_research_conference_2016_poster.jpgAt the end of June I gave the plenary lecture to my Warwick department’s annual conference. It was entitled ‘Foucault, the Archive and the Writing of Intellectual History’, and discussed the writing of the two books Foucault’s Last Decade and Foucault: The Birth of Power.

The audio recording is available here.


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

Some translations, scans and links are available at Foucault Resources – I mention some of these in the talk.

Posted in Conferences, Foucault's Last Decade, Foucault: The Birth of Power, Michel Foucault, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Books received – Rankin, Lisle, Springer, Norris


A second-hand copy of Chris Norris’s Deconstruction: Theory and Practice, Simon Springer’s The Anarchist Roots of Geography, Debbie Lisle’s Holidays in the Danger Zone and William Rankin’s After the Map. The last three were all sent by the publishers.

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Review of Foucault, Language, Madness and Desire in Cultural Geographies


My brief review of Michel Foucault, Language, Madness, and Desire: On Literature, translated by Robert Bonnano, is now available in the new issue of Cultural Geographies. The review requires subscription, but a preprint is available here.

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Society and Space Volume 34 Issue 4 now online

New issue of Society and Space now online

Society and space

The August issue of the 2016 volume of Environment and Planning D: Society and Space is out now. Sophie Cranston’s piece is free to access. All others requires subscription.

The Politics of Pleasure: Promenading on the Corniche and Beachgoing Laleh Khalili 583-600
Feeling precarious: millennial women and work Nancy Worth 601-616
With, against and beyond Lefebvre: planetary urbanization and epistemic plurality Michelle Buckley and Kendra Strauss 617-636
Ambient Text and the Becoming Space of Writing Rebio Diaz Cardona 637-654
Producing Migrant Encounter: Learning to be a British Expatriate in Singapore through the Global Mobility Industry Sophie Cranston 655-671
Narcotecture Kevin O’Neill 672-688
Of wildcats and wild cats: troubling species-based conservation in the Anthropocene Aurora Fredriksen 689-705
Contesting African Landscapes: a critical reappraisal of Sierra Leone’s competing forest cover histories Paul Munro and Greg van der Horst 706-724
Lively commodities and encounter value Maan Barua 725-744
Sustainability and the financialisation…

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Debjani Ganguly, This Thing Called the World: The Contemporary Novel as Global Form

978-0-8223-6156-5_prDebjani Ganguly, This Thing Called the World: The Contemporary Novel as Global Form.

In This Thing Called the World Debjani Ganguly theorizes the contemporary global novel and the social and historical conditions that shaped it. Ganguly contends that global literature coalesced into its current form in 1989, an event marked by the convergence of three major trends: the consolidation of the information age, the arrival of a perpetual state of global war, and the expanding focus on humanitarianism. Ganguly analyzes a trove of novels from authors including Salman Rushdie, Don DeLillo, Michael Ondaatje, and Art Spiegelman, who address wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka, the Palestinian and Kashmiri crises, the Rwandan genocide, and post9/11 terrorism. These novels exist in a context in which suffering’s presence in everyday life is mediated through digital images and where authors integrate visual forms into their storytelling. In showing how the evolution of the contemporary global novel is analogous to the European novel’s emergence in the eighteenth century, when society and the development of capitalism faced similar monumental ruptures, Ganguly provides both a theory of the contemporary moment and a reminder of the novel’s power.

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