My name is Stuart Elden and this is a site about politics, philosophy and geography, interesting books, my own writing and whatever else comes to mind.
My most recent books are The Archaeology of Foucault (Polity 2023) and The Early Foucault (Polity 2021), looking at his student days to the History of Madness, through to his work in the 1960s. These complete an intellectual history of Foucault’s entire career. The two previous books Foucault’s Last Decade and Foucault: The Birth of Power were published by Polity in 2016 and 2017. On this project, with links to discussions of the research process, see this page. Shakespearean Territories was published by University of Chicago Press in late 2018; Canguilhem was published by Polity in early 2019.
The next major project will be a study of Indo-European thought in twentieth-century France, looking at both French and émigré scholars, with a particular focus on Emile Benveniste, Georges Dumézil, Mircea Eliade and Julia Kristeva. This is funded by a Leverhulme major research fellowship (2022-25). Some initial work on this project is reported here. Other current interests include the way Foucault read Shakespeare throughout his career, and the relation between geopolitics and debates about earth, terrain and volume.
You can read more about the main periods of my research here.
I’m a Professor of Political Theory and Geography at the University of Warwick, in the Politics and International Studies department. I previously held an adjunct appointment as Monash Warwick Professor in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University as part of the Monash-Warwick Alliance, and before I rejoined Warwick in 2013 was Professor of Political Geography at Durham University, where I was one of the Directors of the Institute of Advanced Study and the Academic Director of the International Boundaries Research Unit.
Between 2006 and 2015 I was editor of the journal Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. Since 2011 the editorial team have run a companion open site at www.societyandspace.org – now relaunched as a free digital magazine. I also edited a Society and Space book series with Sage though this is no longer accepting new proposals. I have also served as review editor of the Review of International Political Economy and was a founding editor of Foucault Studies. I serve on the board of Foucault Studies, Theory, Culture and Society, Geographica Helvetica and Dialogues in Human Geography.
My interests range fairly widely between philosophy, politics, geography, literature and history. My work has predominantly looked at several European thinkers, principally Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault and Henri Lefebvre, but also Georges Canguilhem, Immanuel Kant, Gottfried Leibniz, Peter Sloterdijk, Kostas Axelos and Eugen Fink; and at the question of territory – conceptually, historically and politically. I’m the author of ten books and the editor of eight.
My articles have appeared in journals in a range of disciplines, and some articles and chapters have been translated into French, German, Spanish, Italian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Turkish, Russian, Farsi, Hebrew and Korean. The Birth of Territory has been published in Chinese translation, my book on Lefebvre in Korean, Foucault: The Birth of Power in Serbian, and the recent books on Foucault are forthcoming in Korean and Chinese, with other translations in discussion.
I’ve been fortunate to receive awards for some of my work. Terror and Territory won the Association of American Geographers Globe book award, the Political Geography specialty group Julian Minghi award and the Royal Geographical Society Murchison award; The Birth of Territory won the Association of American Geographers Meridian book award and was joint-winner of the inaugural Global Discourse book award. I was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in 2013.
You can find a list of future talks here and free downloads here. Forthcoming papers, including some preprints, are here. Some resources, including reading guides, bibliographies, a few short translations, etc. are here.
When I’m not working I enjoy cycling, watching cricket, theatre and a range of music.
A list of Frequently Asked Questions and responses is here. Please note that while I welcome comments, they need to be accompanied by a valid email address. Comments using false email addresses, false names, multiple false identities from a single IP address, etc. will not be posted. I’d rather not have to turn comments off, but I will ‘trash’ anything inappropriate. In the Middle has a moderation policy that provides a good justification for the kind of comments I would like to see here.
Amazon.com page; Amazon.co.uk page
Google Books and Google Scholar
Follow this blog on Facebook and Twitter – though see this caution about using Facebook, and the problems with Twitter are well-known.
Nice blog, dude 🙂 Very good stuff, very interesting and amusing. Much better than facebook nonsense, for sure.
Great stuff! Looking forward to the Kant book.
Thanks for the material…
I have to write, but turned to reading, and I am not sorry….
I’ve known some of your texts, mainly the Focault and Heidegger book, Mapping the present, and have become very interested in your blog. I’m a Brazilian scholar doing my post-phd at University of Paris 7 and I’m very interested in getting information on Foucault’s colloquia and discussions. Hope we can meet personally sometime!
thanks for linking to continent. we hope you have a lovely new year!
Hi, is there any way for me to reach you? I am a filmmaker in New York and I wrote a screenplay that takes some ideas from Foucault, sort of exploring it from a “what if someone lived his life according to these ideas” starting point.
I would love to be able to establish contact with you, so here is my email –
Hi and congratulations for your website.
Does someone have a clue if Lefebvre’s ‘De l’Etat’ has been translated in English at all?
There are some pieces and related materials in this collection http://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/state-space-world
There are complexities with the rights which prevent a full English translation or, for the moment at least, even a reedition in French.
Congratulations! I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award and posted a link to your blog on my page. You have excellent posts here and I hope others will come, gain insights and be involved in discussions. (http://allthingsgeography1.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/versatile-blogger-award/)
I’ve had an opportunity to engage some of your works at a very basic Masters level and I must say that I find your writing and articulation of Lefebvre deeply satisfying. When do you think you’d have time to transport some of those ideas to help out budding scholars in Africa and South Africa to be precise, to make sense of the social, physical and capital world we’re experiencing? Particularly from the perspective of Rhythm-analysis.
Thanks Ernestina. I haven’t worked on Lefebvre for some time – the last was when Neil Brenner and I put together the State, Space, World collection and a related essays in 2007-2008. I don’t know what I could do around African questions in relation to his work, but I hope people find his ideas useful – I suspect the analysis of state mode of production and state spatial strategies would be at least as useful as Rhythmanalysis. I don’t know South Africa well – only visited twice – but I am beginning to do some work on Nigeria, and am visiting different parts of the African continent fairly regularly these days.
very interesting posts. Maybe you could also have a look at my essay “Street art as producer of urban imaginary” http://urbanmethexis.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/street-art-as-producer-of-urban-imaginary/
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Absolutely fascinating stuff. Thank you for the wonderful blog, and I’ll be coming back regularly.
Hello Stuart, I’ve recently begun a photography project online called The Convivial Camera ~ exploring photography as an everyday social practice. https://www.facebook.com/groups/134761096710163/ . I’ve found that you, and other people you’ve connected with through twitter, give me a sense of how I may situate my project and begin to form reflections, perspectives and possible directions. Your blog, writing and tweets have been helpful in giving me some confidence in attempting to do this project online. My background is in photography and education and I’m particularly interested in how the online space (time?) can be (become) an interface between abstract concepts (thinking and reflecting together) and concrete actions (conversations and projects together in public space). I’m still trying to find my feet with this project. Any specific thoughts would be appreciated. But I wrote this mainly to say thanks for being online.
Not sure I have anything to help with on photography, but will connect on twitter and see if anything comes up. Thanks for the kind words about the blog.
no Yi-Fu Tuan category?
I guess I’ve not written about him – I add categories as I go. I read Space and Place during the PhD, but not much else.
Well that’s ok, we all have different tastes. I’ll keep checking back.
Hi, I’m Lynn from Singapore. I’m turning 19 this year and did my A levels in November 2013. I’m going to Durham university in UK to do BA Geography and I’m so excited about it! Your blog is very relevant to students all over and a great reference and inspiration too.
The system in Singapore(the little red dot) is a pressure cooker. I’m glad to be out of school at the moment. I’ve heard the UK can be very academic too, but I’m a full-blown nerd so that’s fine. Just that when all your schoolmates spend all their time mugging and being math geniuses, the atmosphere just feels toxic. I want to be in a place where I learn Geography because I love it, not because I want to impress people with awesome grades. I have a feeling Durham would be a good place for that. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ll see. I’m looking forward to September.
Your blog is a great reference to so many students, and not just those doing Geography. Everything connects, even if I have to find an abstract sort of linkage. But that’s what I love about this subject. It is everything under the sun, in a nutshell. Thanks again for your very practical and well-run blog!
Thanks Lynn. I think you’ll find Durham a very interesting place, with some great staff and students. I’m no longer there, but my ex-colleagues and friends will give you a warm welcome. Good luck with your studies.
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Dear Sturat Elden,
While doing my PhD, I read that Foucault conducted a research with an architectural group or school to explore the residential building (in particular, he was fascinated by the centrality of the chimneys in the formation of the houses in US). I think it was during his residency at Berkeley.
Unfortunately I have lost my reference. And I am not sure if these pieces that I remember are correct or not.
I would appreciate if you help me find the reference or guide me to a source/person that could help me through.
-Apology if this is not a proper place to leave this question.
I don’t know about his doing extensive research on this, but he makes remarks about chimneys in houses in the ‘Space, Knowledge, Power’ interview with Paul Rabinow, which first appeared in the Architecture journal Skyline in 1982 and then in The Foucault Reader and other collections. Rabinow is of course at Berkeley, so perhaps that’s the link. He did do research on architecture, both in terms of the hospital with CERFI in the mid 1970s, and for an edited collections Politiques de l’habitat in 1977.
I really appreciate your work and the presence/function of this blog as well. Eager to look further in…
I am very pleased to come across your blog and have ordered your book. I teach a Foucault course at University of Toronto and my PhD research takes a Foucauldian approach. (I’m a professor of medicine and education). I am in Paris now and reviewing again Thierry Voeltzel which I hope to use in a course/research. Thank you for posting about the Letzlove-Portrait play at Monfort theatre based on the book – I got a ticket and will see the show this week.
I think Voeltzel is under appreciated. Do you know if it was ever translated to English? Do you know if his identity is known/might still be alive? Many thanks
Thanks Brian. I think the Voeltzel book is underappreciated as a source – there are some parts translated in Jeremy Carrette’s Religion and Culture collection, but I don’t think anything else is in English. I’m not sure if he’s still alive, but I think it was his own name, not a pseudonym. I hope you enjoyed the play – I was in Paris this week too but didn’t get to see it.
Thank you very much for your response. I just saw the play – it is magnificent. For anyone in Paris tomorrow – this is highly recommended. It was packed and the acting was superb. (Though a strong level of French is needed to follow the nuances)
I am even more convinced that this work is important for anglophone Foucauldians to read – it would be nice to make it available in English (thought translating the colloquial French would be a challenge). Among my colleagues in education and medicine Foucault is often classified ‘only’ as an archivist/historian because he didn’t interview people, and therefore was removed from their ‘lived experience’. While one would not confuse him with a qualitative interviewer, this work brings that perspective into question. I think the book also would make very interesting case reflection on interviewing a method. Not to mention Foucault lays out many of the main argument that will form the basis of his History of Sexuality, but does so in a dialogic format that I think would be engaging for students new to Foucault.
In any case, many thanks for your generosity in replying – I look forward to reading, and teaching from, your book.
I’m sorry I missed it then. It’s a strange critique of Foucault, in part because he made such a point of interviews and dialogue as a part of his working methods. It’s hard to think of anyone before him who did so many interviews – after him there are plenty of examples of course. It’s also worth challenging this idea of Foucault by pointing to his activism. His work with the Prison Information Group is fairly well known, but involved questionnaires smuggled into prisons, work with ex-prisoners and their families etc. He also worked with the Health Information Group at the same time, which involved work on immigrant health, industrial accidents and the abortion rights struggle. I discuss both groups in detail in Foucault: The Birth of Power. But you are right about the Voetzel book providing another aspect of his work.
Back in 2013 (I believe), I attended a University taster session at Warwick University with my 6th form college. The day was moderately useful and did convince me that university was right for me but the highlight of the day for me was a lecture you gave on territory, borders and Shakespeare. I was utterly engrossed by it and the lecture convinced me that perhaps politics and international politics may be something I want to do. 4 and a half years later and I am doing my Masters in International Politics at Aberystwyth University. While writing an essay on sovereignty today, I came across one of your pieces (Contingent Sovereignty, Territorial Integrity and the Sanctity of Borders) and it reminded me of how and why I became interested in the subject. I just wanted to say thank you for your fantastic lecture and for helping me find a path because frankly, I had no idea what my future held before then. I hope you are well and continue to inspire others as you have me!
Hello Darren – that’s a really nice comment to receive, thank you. Congratulations on the place at Aberystwyth, which is a great department in which I know several people. The Shakespeare lecture was a kind of summary of a book which is now forthcoming with University of Chicago Press later this year. Thanks again for taking the trouble to write, and best wishes, Stuart