Foucault’s Last Decade – Update 12

Update 12 After what has felt like a long break from working on this book, I’ve begun writing again. Some of this was during a recent trip to Ghana.

The first part of Chapter Six looks at the collaborative projects Foucault was involved with through his Collège de France seminars and his involvement with CERFI in the 1970s. I discuss four projects. The first was work conducted at CERFI, also involving Deleuze and Guattari, on into urban infrastructure and related themes, which led to the book Les équipements du pouvoir by Lion Murard and François Fourquet. The second is the collective work Les machines à guérir (aux origines de l’hôpital moderne) published in 1976 and then reissued in 1979. The third is a study Foucault edited entitled Politiques de l’habitat (1800-1850) from 1977. The fourth is a study of the ‘green spaces’ of Paris. These projects are important, I think, for moving Foucault’s interests beyond institutions to the wider society, and for beginning his thinking on questions of governmental practice. I’ve written about these projects before, using the archive of his papers at IMEC, and so it was mainly a question of reorganizing material into the form for this book. We tend to have a vision of Foucault largely as a solitary individual author, but that is at least partly due to the lack of translation of his collaborative works and writings by his colleagues.

The second part of this chapter discusses the two ‘governmentality’ courses – 1978’s Security, Territory, Population and 1979’s The Birth of Biopolitics. I’ve written about these courses, especially the first, before because of the direct relation of Foucault’s concerns to my previous work on the history of territory. I have no wish to repeat that argument again in this book. Instead I’ve concentrated on the discussion of the Christian pastoral in the first course, and the emergence of homo oeconomicus in the second. There is an extensive literature on these courses already, but I hope I’ve said something worthwhile about them: principally because I try to find the continuity of concerns and the links to other material, rather than see them as a completely discrete project. The pastorate is particularly important to the account I am giving, especially as it provides the basis for the third course on governmentality, Du gouvernement des vivants – forthcoming in translation as On the Government of the Living.

There were lots of other pieces that needed to be weaved into this story – Foucault gave a sequence of lectures and interviews in Japan in 1978 immediately after the first course, only some of which are in English and all of which are fascinating; there are the discussions with historians in L’impossible prison; the ‘What is Critique?’ lecture at the Société française de philosophie from May 1978, but only published in 1990 and hence not in Dits et écrits; and the Tanner lectures at Stanford, ‘Omnes et Singulatim’ from October 1979. I still need to decide how to treat the journalism on Iran.

The next chapter will discuss Du gouvernement des vivants (1980) and 1981’s Subjectivité et vérité alongside the newly translated 1981 Louvain lectures Wrong Doing, Truth Telling and other material from that time, along with the US lectures of 1980-81, now mostly collected in L’origine de l’herméneutique de soi (see here and here).

You can read more about the Foucault’s Last Decade project, along with links to previous updates, here.

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This entry was posted in Books, Felix Guattari, Foucault's Last Decade, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Foucault’s Last Decade – Update 12

  1. Pingback: Top ten posts on Progressive Geographies this week | Progressive Geographies

  2. Clare O'Farrell says:

    Reblogged this on Foucault News.

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