A few thoughts on ‘Foucault at the Movies’ – Columbia University Press 2018

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When Foucault va au cinéma came out in 2011, I immediately got hold of a copy. It was a collection of excerpts from Foucault’s interviews about and discussions of films, prefaced by two new introductory essays by Patrice Maniglier and Dork Zabunyan. The texts by Foucault, though, were all taken from Dits et écrits, and they were not reprinted in whole, only in short excerpts. In the French, 126 pages were taken up by the essays; less than 40 pages of excerpts from Foucault. So, there was no newly rediscovered Foucault, what there was was torn from context, and the introductory essays, while interesting enough, were not especially helpful to my own concerns.

I was pleased to hear that Clare O’Farrell was translating the book for Columbia University Press though, not least because Clare has a long-standing interest in both Foucault and film. She’s the author of the book Michel Foucault: Historian or Philosopher? (1989), which I read during my PhD, and also of Michel Foucault (2005), which I still think is the best introductory book on Foucault. Along with Alan Rosenberg and me, she was one of the founding editors of Foucault Studies, as well as behind the invaluable Foucault News blog.

A translation of this book would be useful, I thought, because a couple of the texts in it had not previously been translated. While the French Dits et écrits collects nearly all of Foucault’s shorter writings, the English Essential Works is only a selection. Many other collections – Power/KnowledgePolitics, Philosophy, Culture and Foucault: Live among them – have other essays, but all are part-superseded by Essential Works. Some texts have been translated a few different times, some reprinted with variations, many are not translated at all. Richard Lynch’s bibliography of English translations is invaluable, but finding English translations can be very time-consuming – obscure journals, out of print books and so on. Frankly it’s a bit of a mess. Any new translations, especially if thematically linked, are therefore to be welcomed.

What Foucault at the Movies does is to reprint the whole of each of the texts, rather than the abbreviated versions in Foucault va au cinema. It also includes one relevant piece that was not in Foucault va au cinema, and was not in English before at all. They are all new translations, which is a massive improvement for the ones in Foucault: Live, and a smaller one for the two in Essential Works Volume II.

The texts included are Dits et écrits numbers 140, 159, 162, 164, 171, 180, 185, 201, 284, 308. If you check Lynch’s really helpful bibliography you’ll see that texts 159, 162 and 185 are unique, but I think all the ones here supersede previously published ones, especially the ones in Foucault: Live.

Given the dates of the material, which all come from the last decade of Foucault’s life, I didn’t think it would be much use for my early Foucault work, but there are some useful comments, especially the two pieces on the Histoire de Paul film which are revealing of Foucault’s time working in the asylum and the visits to the fête des fousin Münsterlingen. There are also lots of things said which speak to wider issues – political, historical, literary or other – not just to cinema.

The English also includes the programme for a film festival accompanying the original book, which gives readers a sense of the range of films discussed or otherwise related. It has full and very helpful notes, and a bibliography. Little of that is in the French. In summary, Foucault at the Movies is not just an excellent translation, it is a better book than the French original.

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François Dosse, La saga des intellectuels français I and II – Gallimard, 2018


François Dosse, La saga des intellectuels français, I: À l’épreuve de l’histoire (1944-1968) and La saga des intellectuels français, II: L’avenir en miettes (1968-1989) – Gallimard, 2018

Nul n’était aussi bien armé que François Dosse pour relever le défi : une histoire panoramique et systématique de l’aventure historique et créatrice des intellectuels français, de la Libération au bicentenaire de la Révolution et à la chute du mur de Berlin.
Son Histoire du structuralisme en deux volumes, son attention à la marche des idées, ses nombreuses biographies (de Michel de Certeau, Paul Ricœur, Pierre Nora, Cornelius Castoriadis) lui ont donné, depuis vingt ou trente ans, une connaissance assez intime de la vie intellectuelle de la seconde moitié du XXe siècle pour lui permettre de couronner son œuvre par une tentative de cette envergure.
Le premier volume, 1944-1968, couvre les années Sartre et Beauvoir et leurs contestations, les rapports contrastés avec le communisme, le choc de 1956, la guerre d’Algérie, les débuts du tiers-mondisme, l’irruption du moment gaullien et sa contestation : un temps dominé par l’épreuve de l’histoire, l’influence du communisme et la progressive désillusion qui a suivi.
Le second volume, 1968-1989, va de l’utopie gauchiste, de Soljenitsyne et du combat contre le totalitarisme, à la «nouvelle philosophie», l’avènement d’une conscience écologique, la désorientation des années 80 : un temps marqué par la crise de l’avenir et qui voit s’installer l’hégémonie des sciences humaines.
Ce ne sont là que quelques-uns des points de repère de cette saga, qui embrasse une des périodes les plus effervescentes et créatrices de l’intelligentsia française, de Sartre à Lévi-Strauss, de Foucault à Lacan.
Le sujet a déjà suscité une énorme bibliographie, mais une fresque de pareille ampleur est appelée à faire date.

Saw this in Paris last month, but thanks to Harvey Shoolman for the links and the prompt to link to it. Hopefully an English translation will follow.

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Call for Papers / Conference Announcement – ICE LAW Final Conference (April 2019)

Call for papers for the final conference of the ICE-LAW project

ICE LAW Project

The ICE LAW Project investigates the potential for a legal framework that acknowledges the complex geophysical environment in the world’s frozen regions and explores the impact that an ice-sensitive legal system would have on topics ranging from the everyday activities of Arctic residents to the territorial foundations of the modern state.

The ICE LAW Project is holding its final conference over 25-27th April 2019 in Durham, UK.

The conference will feature four elements:

  • ICE LAW subproject leaders will discuss findings from the workshops and community meetings that they have been holding for the past three years.
  • Four keynote speakers will share their thoughts on topics that join the physical and regulatory environments of the Arctic:
    • Michael Bravo (Cambridge) – Professor of Geography and Convener of Circumpolar History and Public Policy Research, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge University, UK
    • Chris Burn (Carleton) – Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies., Supervisor of Carleton’s Graduate…

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The Alphonso Lingis Reader, edited by Tom Sparrow – U Minnesota Press, 2018

imageThe Alphonso Lingis Reader, edited by Tom Sparrow – U Minnesota Press, 2018 (via Object-Orientated Philosophy)

Alphonso Lingis is arguably the most intriguing American philosopher of the past fifty years—a scholar of transience, someone who has visited and revisited more than one hundred countries and has woven this itinerary into his writing and allowed it to give form to his thinking. This book assembles a representative selection of Lingis’s work to give readers a thorough sense of his methodology and vision, the diversity of his subject matter, and the unity of his thought.

Lingis’s writing evinces the many kinds of knowledge and subtle forces circulating through human communities and their environments. His unique style blends travel writing, cultural anthropology, and personal accounts of his innumerable experiences as an active participant in the adventures and relationships that fill his life. Drawing from countless articles, essays, and interviews published over fifty years, editor Tom Sparrow chose works that follow Lingis’s engaging, often intimate reflections on the body in motion and the myriad influences—social, cultural, aesthetic, libidinal, physical, mythological—that shape and animate it as it moves through the world, among people and places both foreign and domestic, familiar and unknown. In a substantial Introduction, Sparrow provides a biographical, critical, intellectual, and cultural context for reading and appreciating Alphonso Lingis’s work.

An extended encounter with the singular philosopher, The Alphonso Lingis Reader conducts us through Lingis’s early writing on phenomenology to his hybrid studies fusing philosophy, psychoanalysis, anthropology, communication theory, aesthetics, and other disciplines, to his original, inspired arguments about everything from knowledge to laughter to death.

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Ann Laura Stoler, Duress: Imperial Durabilities in our Times reviewed at LSE Review of Books

978-0-8223-6267-8_prAnn Laura Stoler, Duress: Imperial Durabilities in our Times (Duke UP, 2016) reviewed at LSE Review of Books

How do colonial histories remain active forces shaping the conditions and most urgent issues of the present? In Duress: Imperial Durabilities in our Times, Ann Laura Stoler utilises ‘duress’ as a category of domination as the prism through which to analysis how imperial traces continue to impact on relations of exploitation in the contemporary moment. Ed Jones praises this book as a refreshing and deeply creative interpretation of modern politics that will offer a laboratory of ideas to readers.  


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Tom Harper, Atlas: A World of Maps from the British Library – October 2018

Tom Harper, Atlas: A World of Maps from the British Library – October 2018 (via the Maps and Views Blog)

978071vvvv2352918From the publication in 1595 of the first ‘atlas’ by Flemish cartographer Gerhard Mercator, the term has become a universally adopted title for books containing accurate, uniform, and evenly spread maps of all or some of the world. This is an atlas with a difference. Few of the maps in this book could reasonably be called ‘accurate’ in the modern sense and could almost certainly not be used to plan a journey. Yet this atlas can help us to travel in a way that regular atlases do not, because by looking at old maps and getting to know their stories we can be transported back to the times in which they were made.The generous, full-colour illustrations of each map in this book range from the Klencke Atlas to Hokusai’s Map of China, from a 1682 pirate map of Guatemala to 20th-century cartographic postcards featuring maps of Australia. Atlas is the definitive printed showcase of the British Library’s extensive and unparalleled map collection.

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Adrian J. Ivakhiv, Shadowing the Anthropocene: Eco-Realism for Turbulent Times – Punctum Books, 2018

180502shadowingtheanthropocene-cover-front-draft-647x1024-174x275.pngAdrian J. Ivakhiv, Shadowing the Anthropocene: Eco-Realism for Turbulent Times – Punctum Books, 2018

available in paperback or pdf download (minimum price $5; free after six months)

Update: reader’s guide

A spectre is haunting humanity: the spectre of a reality that will outwit and, in the end, bury us. “The Anthropocene,” or The Human Era, is an attempt to name our geological fate – that we will one day disappear into the layer-cake of Earth’s geology – while highlighting humanity in the starring role of today’s Earthly drama. In Shadowing the Anthropocene, Adrian Ivakhiv proposes an ecological realism that takes as its starting point humanity’s eventual demise. The only question for a realist today, he suggests, is what to do now and what quality of compost to leave behind with our burial.

The book engages with the challenges of the Anthropocene and with a series of philosophical efforts to address them, including those of Slavoj Žižek and Charles Taylor, Graham Harman and Timothy Morton, Isabelle Stengers and Bruno Latour, and William Connolly and Jane Bennett. Along the way, there are volcanic eruptions and revolutions, ant cities and dog parks, data clouds and space junk, pagan gods and sacrificial altars, dark flow, souls (of things), and jazz.

Ivakhiv draws from centuries old process-relational thinking that hearkens back to Daoist and Buddhist sages, but gains incisive re-invigoration in the philosophies of Charles Sanders Peirce and Alfred North Whitehead. He translates those insights into practices of “engaged Anthropocenic bodymindfulness” – aesthetic, ethical, and ecological practices for living in the shadow of the Anthropocene.

“What can process philosophies teach us about the Anthropocene? In Shadowing the Anthropocene, Adrian Ivakhiv  shows how a new eco-realism untangles several traditions of thought and practice to come to terms with the contemporary condition. The author himself takes huge steps in the direction needed.  A rich, bracing, and illuminating book!” ~ William E. Connolly, author, Facing the Planetary: Entangled Humanism and the Politics of Swarming

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Antoine Bousquet, The Eye of War: Military Perception from the Telescope to the Drone – U Minnesota Press, October 2018

image_mini.jpgAntoine Bousquet, The Eye of War: Military Perception from the Telescope to the Drone – University of Minnesota Press, October 2018 (and website here)

How perceptual technologies have shaped the history of war from the Renaissance to the present

Antoine Bousquet provides a sweeping historical overview of military perception technologies and a disquieting lens on a world that is, increasingly, one in which anything or anyone that can be perceived can be destroyed. Bousquet explores the implications of militarized perception for the character of war in the twenty-first century and the place of human subjects within its increasingly technical armature.

This wonderfully erudite genealogy of the increasingly precise ways in which the linkage of military perception and weaponry has brought us to the point where being detected puts one within a spatio-temporally fine-grained ‘kill box’ is fascinating and important. Ranging over hundreds of years of documents, beginning with telescopes and ending with the overlap of light and death in the laser, Bousquet’s work will be both at the forefront of security studies and a crucial addition to the knowledge base of concerned citizens.

John Protevi, author of Life, War, Earth: Deleuze and the Sciences

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Andy Merrifield, Endgame Marxism (and Urbanism)

Andy Merrifield on Marx, Beckett and more…

andy merrifield

“I love the old questions.
[With fervour]
Ah the old questions, the old answers, there’s nothing like them!”
—Hamm in Samuel Beckett, Endgame

One of the inspiring things about the Marxist tradition at the bicentenary of Marx’s birth is its resilience, its capacity for seemingly endless spin-offs and interpretations, innumerable adaptations and provocations. It’s an innovative body of thought that has given people plenty to work with and think about when the world itself has been less inspiring. Marxism has kept people going when it’s been hard to keep going.

A while back, the late Eduardo Galeano advocated a Marxism that “celebrates continuous birth.” He had one his rummy characters call it Magical Marxism: “one half reason, one half passion, and a third half mystery.” “Not a bad idea!” his drinking buddies agree, toasting this new school of Marxism, which has always seemed like a good idea to me…

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Intervention – “Christine Blasey Ford and Geographies of Aggression and Repair”

Natalie Oswin on the recent US Senate Supreme Court hearing


Natalie Oswin
Department of Geography, McGill University

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC on Thursday 27 September 2018. Commentaries on this event are already so numerous they could fill multiple volumes. This is not surprising. The stakes were incredibly high. The drive to fill a Supreme Court seat with a partisan, conservative white man was high on the how-to-slide-the-US-into-authoritarianism to do list. The lives, livelihoods, and bodily autonomy of women, people of colour, Indigenous people, migrants, trans people, queers, differently abled people – in other words, anyone not aligned with the white male supremacist end game of the current Republican administration (which is not to say that only or all “whites” and “males” are aligned with this project – think “homonationalism”, “model minorities”, “post-feminism”…) – hang in the balance.

I write this commentary to add to critical discourse at this historical conjuncture…

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