In an addendum to a piece on this site about Foucault’s seminar colleague Jean-Pierre Peter, I made the following note:
Update: the only other place I know where Foucault mentions Peter is in “The Birth of Social Medicine” – the second of his 1974 lectures in Rio. Foucault mentions the work of Le Roy Ladurie and Jean Pierre-Peter on conscription statistics (DE III, 208; EW III, 135). The note – presumably added by the editors – references “Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Jean-Pierre Peter, and Paul Dumont, Anthropologie du conscrit français, d’après les comptes numériques et sommaires du recrutement de l’armée (1819-1826), Paris: Mouton, ‘Civilisation and Societies’ 1972. However, references to this work elsewhere, such as the EHESS publisher page, say Jean-Paul Aron not Jean-Pierre Peter was the third editor.
Having now checked a copy of the book itself, I can confirm that Aron, and not Peter, was the third person involved. I could have simply trusted the EHESS page, but I was intrigued by Foucault’s reference (checking what Foucault read is perhaps done too infrequently in Foucault studies). I’m especially grateful for the spur to look at this book. Foucault mentions the work because he’s interested in the assessment of conscripts, which includes data on which départements they came from, which years are missing from data sets, medical information, and especially exemptions because of conditions, the height of young men, professions, education level and so on. There is some quite interesting spatial-cartographic analysis in the first part (the work of Dumont and le Roy Ladurie) and then epistemological and methodological reflections by Aron on the work and the field of connaissance of military dossiers more generally. François Furet and Fernand Braudel are among those thanked in the acknowledgements. Aron’s contribution is entitled “Taile, maladie et société: essai d’histoire anthropologique”, pp. 193-262.
A minor link between Foucault’s work and that of the Annales school of historians.
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