Geographers, sociologists, philosophers etc. on covid-19 – list updated

Geographers, sociologists, philosophers etc. on covid-19

This list continues to be updated, though less frequently than before. Recently added pieces include:-

Tim Christiaens and Stijn De Cauwer, The Biopolitics of Immunity in Times of COVID-19: An Interview with Roberto Esposito (Antipode)

Félix Tréguer, Gestion techno-policière d’une crise sanitaire (Sciences Po); translated as The State and Digital Surveillance in Times of the Covid-19 Pandemic (web version at Sciences Po; pdf at HAL Archives)

William Connolly, New Viral Crossings and Old Academic Divisions (The Contemporary Condition)

Kavita Datta and Vincent Guermond, Remittances in Times of Crisis: Reflections on Labour, Social Reproduction, and Digitisation during Covid-19 (Antipode)

Roger Keil, Maria Kaika, Tait Mandler and Yannis Tzaninis, Global urbanization created the conditions for the current coronavirus pandemic (The Conversation)

Andy Merrifield, Over the Rainbow — Pynchon and the Pandemic (blog)

Klaus Dodds , Vanesa Castan Broto , Klaus Detterbeck , Martin Jones , Virginie Mamadouh , Maano Ramutsindela , Monica Varsanyi , David Wachsmuth & Chih Yuan Woon, The COVID-19 pandemic: territorial, political and governance dimensions of the crisis (Territory, Politics, Governance)

Journal of Australian Political Economy No 85, Winter 2020 (via PPE)

James Tyner, Freedom, fatal convictions, and the face mask (University of Minnesota Press blog)

Alberto Toscano, Beyond the Plague State (Historical Materialism)

Jean-Luc Nancy and Jean-François Bouthors, ‘Only democracy can allow us to accept the lack of control over our history’ (Verso blog)

Simon Cook and Sam Hayes, Covid-19 and the changing geographies of exercise (Geography Directions)

Matthew Shaw, The untold story of university libraries in lockdown (WONKHE)

The full list is here.

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On the Abolition of the Geography Department

Some interesting reflections from Clive Barnett on Geography as a discipline, in the light of teaching at a distance and the challenges of decolonising the curriculum.

Pop Theory

I’ve been working on the ‘online pivot‘ a lot just recently, thinking about the challenges of adjusting teaching and learning provision for the forthcoming academic year, starting in September, in the context of an ongoing situation in which ‘face-to-face’ forms of education will continue to be constrained and subject to ongoing disruptions. Thinking about teaching and learning at a distance, which is what all this is about, is a particular challenge for academic fields like geography, which are so heavily invested in forms of embodied, experiential learning not only in the form of ‘wet’ or ‘muddy’ labs, but especially perhaps that diffuse range of activities bundled under the name ‘the field’. At the same time as all of this, I also find myself sitting in university level meetings in which issues of equality, diversity, racism, harassment, and hate crime in UK higher education are increasingly described by…

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Michael Maidan, Review of Michel Foucault: Penal Theories and Institutions (2020)

A detailed discussion of the last of Foucault’s Collège de France courses to be published and translated (open access). As the review kindly notes, I discuss the course in detail in Foucault: The Birth of Power, but I’ve agreed to write something more on the course at some point later this year. I also wrote a review of the French edition of the course for Berfrois in 2015 (open access).

Foucault News

Michel Foucault: Penal Theories and Institutions: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1971-1972
Review by Michael Maidan, Phenomenological Reviews, Sunday June 7th, 2020

Penal Theories and Institutions contains the lectures delivered by Foucault in his second-year tenure at the College de France (1971-2). It is also the last volume of this series, concluding a publication cycle of close to twenty years. The publication of Foucault’s lectures started mid-way with the 1976 course and then proceeded sideways, preventing us from grasping the development of his thought during the last fifteen years of his life.

Foucault did not prepare his lectures for publication, and their initial publication in 1997 was initially considered a transgression to Foucault’s last wishes for his posthumous writings not to be published. However, the proliferation of unauthorized versions of the lectures, based on transcriptions from audio recordings of unequal quality, decided the family and friends to…

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Beginning work on ‘The Archaeology of Foucault’

While work on The Early Foucault is just about complete, though stuck until I can get back to Paris, I’m today beginning work on ‘The Archaeology of Foucault’, the fourth and final book in this sequence. It fills in the missing years of 1962-1969, providing an intellectual history of Foucault’s entire career. During this time Foucault taught at Clermont-Ferrand, Tunis and Vincennes, and in Brazil, and while his books Birth of the ClinicThe Order of Things and The Archaeology of Knowledge are the best known outputs from this period, he did a lot of other things too. His work on literature, including the book on Raymond Roussel and lots of short pieces, and on art is also significant, and some of his lecture materials are in the process of being published. Some materials have been published already, and quite a lot is being edited. There is also a lot of unpublished material in the archive. One of the reasons for the non-chronological sequence in which I’ve written these books is the availability of materials in the archive or by publication.

More details on these books can be found here – people have seemed to like the research writing updates on the books (listed here and here), so I will continue with this one.  It’s hard to begin a new book when the last one isn’t yet complete, but next academic year at Warwick is going to be really tough, and research leave I had planned in the third term has been cancelled, so I’m going to try to make some initial progress with this over the summer months. While I can’t get to libraries just yet, and some archival work, especially in the USA, looks a long way off, I can do quite a lot with resources I have at home. I have a lot of notes from earlier work on this period, and quite a lot of draft text cut from The Early Foucault, so I’ll begin with organising that and working out where to go next.

Foucault books

There are quite a lot of Foucault resources on this site, and I expect I will add more as I do the research for this book too.

The page for this book and updates on its research is here, though not much information beyond this post just yet.

Posted in Foucault's Last Decade, Foucault: The Birth of Power, Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Foucault, The Early Foucault, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Alison Mountz, The Death of Asylum: Hidden Geographies of the Enforcement Archipelago – University of Minnesota Press, 2020

Alison Mountz, The Death of Asylum: Hidden Geographies of the Enforcement Archipelago – University of Minnesota Press, 2020

Remote detention centers confine tens of thousands of refugees, asylum seekers, and undocumented immigrants around the world, operating in a legal gray area that hides terrible human rights abuses from the international community. Built to temporarily house eight hundred migrants in transit, the immigrant “reception center” on the Italian island of Lampedusa has held thousands of North African refugees under inhumane conditions for weeks on end. Australia’s use of Christmas Island as a detention center for asylum seekers has enabled successive governments to imprison migrants from Asia and Africa, including the Sudanese human rights activist Abdul Aziz Muhamat, held there for five years.

In The Death of Asylum, Alison Mountz traces the global chain of remote sites used by states of the Global North to confine migrants fleeing violence and poverty, using cruel measures that, if unchecked, will lead to the death of asylum as an ethical ideal. Through unprecedented access to offshore detention centers and immigrant-processing facilities, Mountz illustrates how authorities in the United States, the European Union, and Australia have created a new and shadowy geopolitical formation allowing them to externalize their borders to distant islands where harsh treatment and deadly force deprive migrants of basic human rights.Mountz details how states use the geographic inaccessibility of places like Christmas Island, almost a thousand miles off the Australian mainland, to isolate asylum seekers far from the scrutiny of humanitarian NGOs, human rights groups, journalists, and their own citizens. By focusing on borderlands and spaces of transit between regions, The Death of Asylum shows how remote detention centers effectively curtail the basic human right to seek asylum, forcing refugees to take more dangerous risks to escape war, famine, and oppression.

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The Selected Writings of Pierre Hadot, translated by Matthew Sharpe and Federico Testa, Bloomsbury, May 2020

This book is now published. There should be a pre-ordered copy waiting for me whenever I can get back in my Warwick office…

Progressive Geographies

9781474272971The Selected Writings of Pierre Hadot, translated by Matthew Sharpe and Federico Testa, Bloomsbury, 2019

This collection of writings from Pierre Hadot (1992-2010) presents, for the first time, previously unreleased and in some cases untranslated materials from one of the world’s most prominent classical philosophers and historians of thought.As a passionate proponent of philosophy as a ‘way of life’ (most powerfully communicated in the life of Socrates), Pierre Hadot rejuvenated interest in the ancient philosophers and developed a philosophy based on their work which is peculiarly contemporary. His radical recasting of philosophy in the West was both provocative and substantial. Indeed, Michel Foucault cites Pierre Hadot as a major influence on his work.

This beautifully written, lucid collection of writings will not only be of interest to historians, classicists and philosophers but also those interested in nourishing, as Pierre Hadot himself might have put it, a ‘spiritual life’.


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Adam Kotsko, Agamben’s Philosophical Trajectory – Edinburgh University Press, September 2020

giorgio_agambenAdam Kotsko, Agamben’s Philosophical Trajectory – Edinburgh University Press, September 2020

Good to see this book nearly out – a major study by the key translator of Agamben into English. Adam has a great story about the project – Academic Publishing: An Odyssey – which I won’t spoil by part-quoting, but which is well worth a read.

  • Focuses on Agamben’s intellectual development
  • Offers the first study of the complete Homo Sacer series
  • Takes into account Agamben’s recently-published memoir
  • Addresses the full range of Agamben’s thought on linguistics, poetics, politics and theology

Giorgio Agamben has emerged as one of the most perceptive and even prophetic political thinkers of his era. Now that he has completed his multi-volume Homo Sacer series – his career-defining work – Adam Kotsko, one of his leading translators, shows how Agamben’s political concerns emerged and evolved as he responded to contemporary events and new intellectual influences while striving to remain true to his deepest intuitions. Kotsko reveals the trajectory of Agamben’s work and shows us what it means to practice philosophy as a living, responsive discipline.

Adam Kotsko’s brilliant study provides a chronological and systematic reading of Giorgio Agamben’s writings that allows us to see the evolution of Agamben’s thought over the years, as it responds to the varied historical contexts and philosophical problems uniquely characteristic of his oeuvre. As Kotsko is particularly attuned to the turn from the poetic to the political, he demonstrates subtle nuances often otherwise missed within Agamben’s work, making Agamben’s Philosophical Trajectory a fascinating portrait of the many twists and turns, continuities and discontinuities alike, within his philosophy. This book will most certainly serve as a definitive account of Agamben’s development for years to come.

Colby Dickinson, Associate Professor of Theology, Loyola University Chicago


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Claude Lévi-Strauss, Wild Thought – a new translation of La pensée sauvage – University of Chicago Press, December 2020

9780226413082Claude Lévi-Strauss, Wild Thought – a new translation of La pensée sauvage – translated by Jeffrey Mehlman and John Leavitt, University of Chicago Press, December 2020

Perhaps the most influential anthropologist of his generation, Claude Lévi-Strauss left a profound mark on the development of twentieth-century thought, equal to that of phenomenology and existentialism. Through a fertile mixture of insights gleaned from linguistics and from sociology and ethnology, Lévi-Strauss elaborated his theory of structural unity in culture and became the preeminent representative of structural anthropology. La Pensée sauvage, published in French in 1962, was his crowning achievement. Ranging over philosophies, historical periods, and human societies, it challenged the prevailing assumption of the superiority of modern Western culture and sought to explain the unity of human intellection.

Unfortunately titled The Savage Mind when it first published in English in 1966, the original translation nevertheless sparked a fascination with Lévi-Strauss’s work among generations of Anglophone readers. Wild Thought: A New Translation of “La Pensée sauvage” rekindles that spark with a fresh and accessible new translation. Including critical annotations for the contemporary reader, it restores the accuracy and integrity of the book that changed the course of twentieth-century thought, making it an indispensable addition to any philosophical and anthropological library.


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Books received – University of Minnesota Press, Sartre, Dumézil, Koyré

IMG_3373 copy

A mixed pile of books, mostly from University of Minnesota Press in recompense for some review work, along with some second-hand French books.

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Franck Billé, Voluminous States: Sovereignty, Materiality, and the Territorial Imagination – Duke UP, August 2020

The Introduction is open access here

Progressive Geographies

Franck Billé, Voluminous States: Sovereignty, Materiality, and the Territorial Imagination – Duke UP, August 2020

From the Arctic to the South China Sea, states are vying to secure sovereign rights over vast maritime stretches, undersea continental plates, shifting ice flows, airspace, and the subsoil. Conceiving of sovereign space as volume rather than area, the contributors to Voluminous States explore how such a conception reveals and underscores the three-dimensional nature of modern territorial governance. In case studies ranging from the United States, Europe, and the Himalayas to Hong Kong, Korea, and Bangladesh, the contributors outline how states are using airspace surveillance, maritime patrols, and subterranean monitoring to gain and exercise sovereignty over three-dimensional space. Whether examining how militaries are digging tunnels to create new theaters of operations, the impacts of climate change on borders, or the relation between borders and nonhuman ecologies, they demonstrate that a three-dimensional approach to studying borders…

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