Foucault’s Lectures on the Punitive Society I

The beginning of a close reading of the new Foucault lecture course at Stockerblog. I shared my initial thoughts on the course here and here.


Last month EHESS/Gallimard/Seuil Paris published Michel Foucault’s lectures at the Collège de France in the 1972-73 academic session, in fact they all date from 1973. The edition has been prepared by Bernard Harcourt under the direction of François Ewald and Alessandro Fontana. I believe that a translation from Palgrave can be expected about two years from now. I will be posting my notes, slightly tidied up and shaped into essay form, lecture by lecture. This week we begin with the lecture of third January 1973.

Foucault picks up on a distinction made by the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss between incorporation and exclusion of those who are awkward in some way. Foucault describes the distinction as playful, but also significantly implies that the second option is the option of the scapegoat (the religious sacrifice) while the first is as Lévi-Strauss appears to suggest, an example of cannibalism. Foucault may be thinking of…

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