Hot off the press: Architectural and Urban Reflections after Deleuze and Guattari

A new collection on Architectural and Urban Reflections after Deleuze and Guattari

My Desiring-Machines


This book collects chapters on urbanism and architecture that first appeared as papers at the refrains of freedom conference in Athens (2015).

From the publisher’s website:

“The post humanist movement which currently traverses various disciplines in the arts and humanities, as well as the role that the thought of Deleuze and Guattari has had in the course of this movement, has given rise to new practices in architecture and urban theory. This interdisciplinary volume brings together architects, urban designers and planners, and asks them to reflect and report on the (built) place and the city to come in the wake of Deleuze and Guattari.”

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The Early Foucault Update 15: Working on Maladie mentale et personnalité and some archival and library work in Paris

Earlier this month I finished working through Maladie mentale et personnalité, which I discussed beginning in the last update, and have drafted a substantial section analyzing the book. I imagine I can only use a fraction of the quotes I took down in my notes, as at the moment it’s a long section. Only then did I go to the valuable secondary literature on the book, including the work of Macherey, Dreyfus, Gutting, Bernauer, the biographies and so on. Initially I was trying to read it without those filters.

This book is often read either in relation to its 1962 version Maladie mentale et psychologie (the version we have in English), or as a summation of a positon Foucault moved beyond, in this chapter I’m trying to read it as a valuable book in its own right. (The other two aspects will be treated elsewhere in my study.) There is a structure to the original argument which I found more compelling on this detailed reading that I’d realised before, and I’m going to try to capture that in my discussion. Of course, it is a book Foucault tries to hide away, compromises to revise in 1962, and then does stop further editions in his lifetime. If it had not been by Foucault, it would doubtless have been forgotten. But it is by Foucault, and for an intellectual history of his formation as thinker it is a crucial source. His Lille and ENS lecture courses from the early 1950s clearly inform it, and the archival traces of those will inform my reading, though they will be treated in detail elsewhere in the book. We also can consult the notes Foucault took from his extensive reading around this topic – as with so much of Foucault’s work, the texts referenced are but a tiny fraction of what he read. But even from the book itself I found things that had evaded me before. Above all it was a far less phenomenological, and far more Marxist text than I remembered.

In the present chapter, I’m reading it in relation to the two texts published in 1957, but likely completed a few years before. These are reprinted in Dits et écrits as texts 2 and 3. The following chapter discusses the work translating and introducing Binswanger, and translating von Weizsäcker. Between these two chapters, I therefore will discuss just about everything Foucault published pre-1961. But there will be five or six chapters of the book discussing that period.

In this work I got caught up in a textual issue concerning “La psychologie de 1850 à 1950”, and also returned to the dating issue concerning Foucault’s translation of Leo Spitzer. There is more about the Spitzer issue here. Essentially, I’m intrigued as to whether Foucault did the translation of Spitzer in the same period as his other translation work – mid-1950s to early-1960s – or almost a decade later. If the former, when seems intuitively more likely, then I should discuss the work in my current book. This has involved quite a lot of library work, but also a number of emails to people who might shed light, if not on the date itself, on how their bibliographies reflect it. They have been extremely generous in their responses, with several useful leads to follow, even if as yet I still do not have a definitive answer.

BNF reading copy

I then had a few days in Paris. The main work was working through some boxes of material in the Foucault archive at the Richelieu site of the Bibliothèque Nationale, but I also did some work with printed sources at the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève and the main Mitterand site of the Bibliothèque Nationale. I was able to resolve a good number of issues with the notes for my book in those libraries – checking references, finding quotations, checking different editions and so on. Some involved microfilm and microfiche, on the archaic BNF machines. Some of this verged on the heroically recondite – which early-20th century French translation of Nietzsche provided the quotation which Foucault’s then-lover Jean Barraqué used for the title of an article? When a PCF editorial was reprinted, what was left out from the original? Was a journal piece by Henri Ey on von Weizsäcker the same as the preface he wrote to the translation which Foucault made? I found one relevant passage when Foucault doesn’t provide a page number – in a 400-page book, in the final chapter. Inevitably resolving these kind of reference issues threw up a number of other ones, but I feel that I made good progress on this work. The rationale for doing this is part my own somewhat obsessive tendencies, but also because of an attempt at being careful. I’m increasingly convinced that some of the issue with the Spitzer dating stems from people copying references for texts they’ve not personally verified. I tend to make the trip across the city to the Mitterand site or the BSG in the evening, since they are open after the archive room at the Richelieu site is closed, but this does make for some long days.

In the archive I returned to a box of materials relating to Foucault’s theses, which holds some fascinating material including his notes for the oral presentation at the defence. This box also includes a partial but hand-corrected copy of his Introduction to Kant’s Anthropology, which was his secondary thesis, though that Introduction has now been published. (Incidentally, though I know of three archives which have this introduction, I’ve never found the manuscript of the translation which accompanied it, though that was published in Foucault’s lifetime.)

I also took a first look at a box with some materials on Nietzsche – not the reading notes which I’ve looked at before and will return to again, but texts on Nietzsche, most of which were either published or delivered as lectures in courses. Among other things this includes Foucault’s presentation on ‘Nietzsche, Freud, Marx’ from 1964 – close to, but not the same as the published version; a version of ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, History’ in typescript which is in another archive; his 1969-70 course on Nietzsche and genealogy delivered at Vincennes; the SUNY Buffalo lecture from 1970; and the McGill lecture from April 1971 included in Lectures on the Will to Know. I had a reasonable idea what to expect for the most part, but there were still some surprises, including what was for me a big one: some unpublished texts from the 1950s. Although it’s long been known that Foucault’s significant encounter with Nietzsche was in 1953, I only knew of one text he’d reportedly written on him at that time, mentioned by Defert. I found that text, but there is much more here. I’m going to have to say more about Nietzsche in this book than I imagined.

Looking at materials used for lectures, and comparing them to the published versions is slow work but can be revealing. On the one hand, the editors’ ability to decipher cryptic abbreviations and shorthand is impressive, as is their organization of materials which are sometimes lacking page numbers and/or out of sequence. In the later years material has been used for other purposes – parts of Paris lectures taken out to serve as the basis for lectures elsewhere, for example, sometimes with new page numbers, added or dropped material. Apart from the fact that he seems to have kept nearly everything, and it is well organized, Foucault was obviously not working with a future editor in mind. The editors also do invaluable work adding references and contextualizing remarks. But on the other hand, it is clear that there are some significant editorial choices made, and not all of these might have been made by another in their place.

The Nietzsche box took me much longer than I expected, given how interesting its contents were, so again I found my time with the box containing Foucault’s Lille courses was limited. I spent all my time on a single course, which I’d not been able to consult before. I thought I knew what sort of thing it would contain, but I was mistaken. It’s a course almost entirely devoted to a thinker whom Foucault only mentions briefly elsewhere. I’m planning to come back to Paris for a longer visit in late January and it’s clear that I will need to spend much more time with this box. In that visit I’m also hopefully going to take a look at another box that likely contains a copy of what might be the earliest extant piece of academic writing by Foucault.

I’m now going to have to put this book aside for a while. First, I have the copy-editing queries on Shakespearean Territories to deal with, and then I’m taking a proper break over the holidays. In the New Year I have a number of shorter writing tasks to complete, and then will balance this Foucault work with the Canguilhem research and writing. I see the work on these two books as being mutually reinforcing, but the Canguilhem book needs to be the priority until the spring.


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

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The Last Interview of Nicos Poulantzas

The last interview of Nicos Poulantzas in an English translation with introduction at the Legal Form blog.


Here at Legal Formwith a helpful introduction. Poulantzas died just nine days before its original publication on 12 Oct., 1979, in the Italian communist journal, Rinascita.

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The Birth of Austerity: German Ordoliberalism and Contemporary Neoliberalism (2017)

This looks like a very valuable collection which includes some of the foundational texts of ‘Ordoliberalism’, which Foucault discusses in his course The Birth of Biopolitics.

Foucault News

The Birth of Austerity. German Ordoliberalism and Contemporary Neoliberalism
Edited by Thomas Biebricher and Frieder Vogelmann, Rowman & Littlefield.

Publication Date: Sep 2017

Ordoliberalism and the ‘Freiburg School’ have gained traction in contemporary political economy in response to two factors: a rising interest in governmentality studies and the banking, financial and sovereign debt crisis in Europe. In the face of these crises, Germany has assumed a position of quasi-hegemony in the European Union, making decisions about bailouts, the politics of crisis management and the rise of austerity.

This volume gathers together English translations of seminal ordoliberal texts by thinkers ranging from Walter Eucken and Wilhelm Röpke to Franz Böhm, Alexander Rüstow and Hans Grossmann-Doerth. Offering some foundational insights into ordoliberalism, these essays give insight into a field that is much misunderstood outside Germany. The second half of the book comprises of analyses of contemporary issues in light of ordoliberal…

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6/13 Revolt: Foucault in Iran (2017)

News of a discussion of Foucault in Iran to be held in New York

Foucault News


Daniel Defert (éditeur de Michel Foucault)
Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi (University of Illinois at Urbana)
Judith Revel (Université Paris Nanterre)
Moderated by John Rajchman, Daniele Lorenzini, and Bernard E. Harcourt

December 14, 2017 from 6:15 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Jerome Greene Annex, Columbia University
(410 West 117th Street, New York)

See also these links


Michel Foucault identified in the Iranian uprising of 1978 a modality of religious political revolt and a form of political spirituality that privileged, in the secular realm, expressly religious aspirations. What Foucault discovered in Iran was, in his words, a political spirituality: a mass mobilization on this earth modeled on the coming of a new Islamic vision of social forms of coexistence and equality.

Foucault described the mass mobilization in Iran as an Islamic…

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Verena Erlenbusch, Genealogies of Terrorism: Revolution, State Violence, Empire forthcoming with Columbia UP

9780231547178Verena Erlenbusch, Genealogies of Terrorism: Revolution, State Violence, Empire forthcoming with Columbia University Press in 2018.

What is terrorism? What ought we to do about it? And why is it wrong? We think we have clear answers to these questions. But acts of violence, like U.S. drone strikes that indiscriminately kill civilians, and mass shootings that become terrorist attacks when suspects are identified as Muslim, suggest that definitions of terrorism are always contested. In Genealogies of Terrorism, Verena Erlenbusch rejects attempts to define what terrorism is in favor of a historico-philosophical investigation into the conditions under which uses of this contested term become meaningful. The result is a powerful critique of the power relations that shape how we understand and theorize political violence.

Tracing discourses and practices of terrorism from the French Revolution to late imperial Russia, colonized Algeria, and the post-9/11 United States, Erlenbusch examines what we do when we name something terrorism. She offers an important corrective to attempts to develop universal definitions that assure semantic consistency and provide normative certainty, showing that terrorism means many different things and serves a wide range of political purposes. In the tradition of Michel Foucault’s genealogies, Erlenbusch excavates the history of conceptual and practical uses of terrorism and maps the historically contingent political and material conditions that shape their emergence. She analyzes the power relations that make different modes of understanding terrorism possible and reveals their complicity in justifying the exercise of sovereign power in the name of defending the nation, class, or humanity against the terrorist enemy. Offering an engaged critique of terrorism and the mechanisms of social and political exclusion that it enables, Genealogies of Terrorism is an empirically grounded and philosophically rigorous critical history with important political implications.

Verena Erlenbusch’s careful genealogy of ‘terrorism’—tracking the term’s multiple and overdetermined meanings since its first appearance as a political concept in the late eighteenth century—powerfully shows us how we all too frequently ask the wrong questions about terrorism. This critical book offers a necessary corrective to how we think about terrorism, and it reshapes the grounds upon which we should have any meaningful debate about terrorism in the present moment.

Andrew Dilts, Loyola Marymount University

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7 Critical Theory books that came out in November 2017 – Negri, Wheeler-Reed, Soussloff, Strauss, Adorno, Sullivan, Zigon

As ever, a useful roundup from critical theory



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LSE Writing for Research – page of links to advice posts

I’ve linked to some of these before, but the LSE has now put together a page of links to their advice posts – Writing for Research.

There are lots more links and some discussions archived here.

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Figure/Ground interview with Leonard Lawlor

Figure/Ground interview with Leonard Lawlor

Leonard Lawlor is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy at Pennsylvania State University. He specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Continental philosophy. He received his doctorate from SUNY Stony Brook in 1988 and taught at the University of Memphis from 1989–2008, where he held the position of Faudree-Hardin University Professor of Philosophy from 2004 to 2008 before joining the faculty at Penn State, as Sparks Professor of Philosophy. He is known for his writings on phenomenology and on the figures Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Henri Bergson, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Edmund Husserl, and Jean Hippolyte. Lawlor’s most recent work concerns transcendental violence and possible responses to it. His recent From Violence to Speaking Out takes up the question of responses to violence. Although From Violence to Speaking Out contains precise expositions of important ideas in Derrida, Deleuze, and Foucault, it is an original work of philosophy, extending ideas found in his 2007 This is not Sufficient. Somewhat disguised by the expositions, From Violence to Speaking Out is primarily a work in ethics.

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The Intimate Life of Violence: Brad Evans interviews Elaine Scarry at LARB

This the 16th in a series of dialogues with artists, writers, and critical thinkers on the question of violence. This conversation is with the acclaimed American writer Elaine Scarry, who is the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University. The author of many books, Elaine’s work has been pioneering in rethinking the relationship between violence, the body, and trauma as a political and social category.

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