Neil Brenner, Critique of Urbanization: Selected Essays – now published

9783035607956Neil Brenner, Critique of Urbanization: Selected Essays – now published by Birkhäuser Verlag. It’s a collection of largely previously published essays, but several were in hard-to-find places, and it has some new material.

Urbanization is transforming the planet, within and beyond cities, at all spatial scales. In this book, Neil Brenner mobilizes the tools of critical urban theory to deconstruct some of the dominant urban discourses of our time, which naturalize, and thus depoliticize, the enclosures, exclusions, injustices and irrationalities of neoliberal urbanism. In so doing, Brenner advocates a constant reinvention of the framing categories, methods and assumptions of critical urban theory in relation to the rapidly mutating geographies of capitalist urbanization. Only a theory that is dynamic—which is constantly being transformed in relation to the restlessly evolving social worlds and territorial landscapes it aspires to grasp—can be a genuinely critical theory.

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The Early Foucault update 3: Another week at the Bibliothèque Nationale

bnfI’ve just spent another week at the Bibliothèque Nationale manuscript room – newly renovated and now a dedicated space. This is at the older Richelieu site in the centre of the city.

I worked through boxes relating to two key periods – Foucault’s reading notes in preparation for Histoire de la folie, and his notes from the period immediately before this. There was a lot of material to go through – more than I expected, since two numbered boxes were each actually split into ‘a’ and ‘b’ boxes – and I essentially made detailed notes on what was there, and spent some time on the most interesting material, but have not yet worked through everything in careful detail. The first set of boxes had a lot of material you’d expect to find, but also showed how much the research for this project overlapped with that for Birth of the Clinic. Daniel Defert notes that Foucault thought that book was essentially the ‘outtakes’ from the earlier study – it’s more than that of course, but this description makes some sense. It’s also striking how much the research for the madness book initiated themes that Foucault would explore over a decade later in his work on punishment and sexuality. I made the point back in my PhD thesis that the full text of Historie de la folie (as opposed to the then-truncated English translation Madness and Civilization) made it clear how much it anticipated many of his later concerns. That point can be substantiated much more carefully with these reading notes. I should caution though that because Foucault’s notes are undated, we cannot be exactly sure when materials were collected. Foucault organised his notes thematically, and moved things around as he worked on new projects. But there is clear break in style of note taking in the later 1960s, so I am quite confident these notes date from before that period.

The notes from his earliest reading are mixed in with lecture notes – not lectures he gave but those he attended. Who keeps all of this for thirty-plus years, organised so carefully and supplemented by extensive reading notes? Foucault did. Again, he doesn’t date the notes, though he usually but not always gives the name of the lecturer. They were a set of formidable figures – Jean Beaufret, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean Hyppolite and Jean Wahl among them. It was helpful in verifying just how much of the philosophical tradition he knew, with extensive notes on figures that might not ordinarily be seen as part of Foucault’s background – Hume, Pascal, Spinoza, and the Greeks, for instance. There are also extensive and detailed notes on psychology and psychonalysis that fed into his earliest publications – the key names that might be expected, and a range of less familiar figures.

The notes are filled with his difficult, at times illegible, handwriting, employing some idiosyncratic shorthand and abbreviations. His citations are usually provided, but often in compressed form. Tracking some of these leads down may take some time. Foucault tended to group his (at this time A5 size) notes together by folding an A4 sheet around them, but some of these are so decrepit that they have been replaced by more recent sheets – some clearly from the BN archivist, others look to be Foucault’s from a different date, and some look to be by Daniel Defert, whose handwriting I recognised in a few places. For some of these grouping-pages, and occasionally for notes themselves, Foucault would use various bits of paper that he seemed to have to hand – invitations to events, manuscript drafts, mimeographs of various things, headed notepaper and so on. In the absence of dated notes, these can give useful indications of periodisations – though usually only providing the earliest date that they could have been grouped together. But some of them seem to come from quite unknown providence: Foucault seemed to have an extensive stack of headed paper from a journal that he never published in, was not on the board and as far as I know had no other links to.

I worked almost flat out in the manuscript room on this visit, pausing only for brief breaks. I did meet up with The Funambulist’s Léopold Lambert for a beer one evening, and made a couple of trips to favourite bookstores. I also spent a couple of hours at the BN’s François-Mitterand site, looking back at Foucault and Daniel Rocher’s translation of von Weizsäcker’s Le cycle de la structure on microfilm. I’m still trying to get hold of a copy of this elusive text.

This was the last reconnaissance visit I needed before sending off the book proposal for The Early Foucault. I’m hoping to have an indication of whether it will be contracted before I next head to Paris in mid-February. In the meantime I’ll be speaking about this project at the Institute of Historical Research on 2 February.


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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Peter Gratton’s lectures from his New Derrida course

At his Philosophy in a Time of Error blog, Peter Gratton is sharing the lectures from his New Derrida courselecture one (introduction) and lecture two (‘The Animal’). I won’t continually link to new lectures as they go up, but this looks worth following.

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Goldsmiths Seminar Series – Rhythmanalysis: Everything You Always Wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask

rhythm analysis final.jpg

This CHASE-funded seminar series foregrounds rhythm and rhythmanalysis by highlighting their relevance and richness as methodological perspectives and practices within the humanities. The six sessions will explore various approaches to time and rhythm as those found in the work of key critical theorists, such as Gilles Deleuze, Henri Lefebvre, Rudolf Laban, Roland Barthes, Henri Meschonnic, Emile Benveniste, Gaston Bachelard and others. To sign up and for further information contact: See also: .

Rhythm lies at the heart of our experience of shifting dynamics ruling neo-liberal society in terms of life patterns, economic growth and decay, and our systems of mediation and communication. Our lives are shaped and partake of rhythmical fluctuations: the regular happening of events and its sudden variations, the negotiations between different degrees of speeds, as in the way we produce and consume food, think and practice art and the balance and alternation between our moods, affects, and desires. Rhythm is nevertheless difficult to grasp, point down, describe. It is more something we feel, sense and intuit. Its study encompasses such diverse fields as cultural theory, psychology, crafts and design, movement arts, music, sociology, literature and the visual arts. Moreover, based on time and rhythm rhythmanalysis was famously introduced by Henri Lefebvre as a new type of methodology. However, both rhythm and rhythmanalysis have fluctuating meanings, something that hinders their understanding and that has limited their impact.

This seminar series foregrounds rhythm and rhythmanalysis by highlighting their relevance and richness as methodological perspectives and practices within the humanities. The six sessions will explore various approaches to time and rhythm as those found in the work of key critical theorists, such as Gilles Deleuze, Henri Lefebvre, Rudolf Laban, Roland Barthes, Henri Meschonnic, Emile Benveniste, Gaston Bachelard and others. Seminar convenors will introduce the readings, which will be circulated to the participants ahead of the seminars.

Those who are interested are kindly invited to sign up for as many sessions as possible so as to ensure continuity. The maximum number of participants is 20 per session.


15th February 2017, 6.30-9.00pm Room 305, Professor Stuart Hall Building, Goldsmiths
Dr Stamatia Portanova (University ‘L’ Orientale’, Neaples)
Rhythm in the work of Gilles Deleuze’

15th March 2017, 6.00 – 8.30pm Room 302, Professor Stuart Hall Building, Goldsmiths
Dr Yi Chen (London College of Communication, University of the Arts London)
Rhythm and Rhythmanalysis

29th March 2017, 6.00 to 8.30pm Room 305, Professor Stuart Hall Building, Goldsmiths
Dr Paola Crespi (Goldsmiths)
Rhythm and Education’

Dr Sunil Manghani (Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton)
Rhythm and the Neutral

25th April 2017, 6.00 to 8.30pm Room 305, Professor Stuart Hall Building, Goldsmiths
Dr Pascal Michon (Independent, Paris)
Rhythm in the work of Emile Benveniste and Henri Meschonnic’

16th May 2017, 6.00 to 8.30pm Room 305, Professor Stuart Hall Building, Goldsmiths
Dr Derek McCormack (University of Oxford)

30th May 2017, 6.00 to 8.30pm Room 305, Professor Stuart Hall Building, Goldsmiths
Dr Eleni Ikoniadou (Kingston University)
Rhythm in the work of Gaston Bachelard and Kodwo Eshun’


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Books received – Binswanger, Canguilhem, Lacan


Some books for the new Foucault project – works by Georges Canguilhem and Jacques Lacan, picked up in Paris, and Jacqueline Verdeaux’s translation of Ludwig Binswanger’s Dream and Existence which Foucault advised and introduced.

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Save the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths University – sign the petition

Save the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths University – sign the petition here.

Update 20.25 – I’ve been made aware that the situation is much more complicated than the petition suggests, and that the restructuring may be for quite different reasons. You may wish to  exercise caution before signing. 

This is a petition addressing the dissolution of the Centre of Cultural Studies (CCS) at Goldsmiths, University of London and striving to attract public attention to the conditions which led to this resolution. It has been recently brought to our attention that the Centre for Cultural Studies is to be incorporated into the Media and Communications department starting from the academic year 2017/18 ‐ in ways and with consequences which are yet to be established.

The dissolution of the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths stands in direct relation to a broader neoliberal re‐organisation of Universities in the UK and worldwide, and can thus be seen as a symptom of the exacerbation of this agenda…

More info on the Centre here; full petition here. Here’s the first few signatures…

Eric Alliez, Paris 8 & Kingston University

Wendy Brown, University of Berkley

Howard Caygill, CRMEP & Kingston University

Eric Fassin, Paris‐8 University

Verónica Gago, Universidad de Buenos Aires

Peter Hallward, Kingston University

Matthieu Renault, University Paris 8

Yuk Hui, University of Leuphana, Germany

Daniele Lorenzini, Columbia University

Isabell Lorey, eipcp & University of Kassel

Toni Negri, Philosopher

Christine Planté, Université de Lyon 2

Judith Revel, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre‐LaDefense

Sandro Mezzadra, University of Bologna, Italy

Franco Berardi ‘Bifo,’ Philosopher

Deborah Cowen, University of Toronto…


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William Davies – How statistics lost their power – and why we should fear what comes next

William Davies, ‘How statistics lost their power – and why we should fear what comes next‘ in The Guardian.

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Roland Barthes’s ‘Mythologies’: A 60th Anniversary Invitation

Roland Barthes’s ‘Mythologies’: A 60th Anniversary Invitation

In 1957, the French literary theorist Roland Barthes (1915-1980) published Mythologies (Seuil, 1957), his most influential book, and perhaps one of the best-known books written by a 20th century French thinker. The book was a collection of fifty-three individual essays and a lengthy afterword that was meant to elucidate the theoretical vision that had informed the foregoing texts. The…

The post ‘Mythologies’: A 60th Anniversary Invitation appeared first on Critical Legal Thinking.

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William E Connolly on Trump, Putin and the Big Lie Scenario

I don’t imagine I will share many links about Trump, but here’s one that’s worth reading – William E Connolly on ‘Trump, Putin and the Big Lie Scenario‘.


Posted in Politics, Uncategorized, William E Connolly | 2 Comments

Catastrophe: Critical Legal Conference 2017 Call for Streams

catastropheCatastrophe: Critical Legal Conference 2017 Call for Streams – info at Critical Legal Thinking

The Warwick Law School and Social Theory Centre invite you to the 2017 Critical Legal Conference at the University of Warwick on the 1st-3rd of September. Please send your stream proposals to The closing date for streams will be the 28th of February, the call for papers will open after that.

Theme: Catastrophe

Ten years ago, the so-called ‘Invisible Committee’ urged that ‘It is useless to wait…. To go on waiting is madness. The catastrophe is not coming, it is here. We are already situated within the collapse of a civilization. It is within this reality that we must choose sides.’ Over a decade before, Leonard Cohen had written; ‘This is the darkness, this is the flood. The catastrophe has already happpened and the question we now face is what is the appropriate behaviour.’ The 2017 Critical Legal Conference thus calls for streams, panels and papers that reflect upon ‘catastrophe’; on the catastrophes of our time and upon their interrelations; upon the questions of appropriate behaviours that might emerge and sides that might be taken.


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