Main periods of research

I see my work until now as falling into three periods, with some overlap between them, and I’m now beginning what I expect will be a fourth distinct period of research.

Social/Spatial Theory

I began my PhD in 1994, which looked at Nietzsche, Heidegger and Foucault, and submitted it in late 1998. It was reworked into my first book, Mapping the Present (2001), but during the PhD I also worked on Henri Lefebvre. While this was not submitted as part of the PhD, it was developed into my second book Understanding Henri Lefebvre in 2004. The work on Heidegger developed into some separate papers, which were reworked and expanded into Speaking Against Number which appeared in late 2005, with a 2006 date. Essentially then the first period was from 1994-2004, and led to three works of social/spatial theory.


The second period was on territory, and while I was certainly thinking about this before, both in terms in teaching and research from around 2001, it really became the focus only when I finished the Heidegger book in late 2004. The historical work culminated in The Birth of Territory, submitted in 2011 and published in 2013. But while I began that book first, I put it aside for a while to write Terror and Territory, submitted in late 2007 and published in 2009. Some of the work from The Birth of Territory led directly to Shakespearean Territories, which I began in 2011-12 but which I didn’t finally complete until 2017. It was published in late 2018.


The third period overlaps with the previous two, as I was already beginning to work on Foucault’s lecture courses even as I finished the PhD. I wrote reviews or essays on many of these courses alongside the other projects, as the courses were slowly published in French and then English. But in 2013 I turned to this work in a consolidated way, leading to Foucault’s Last Decade (2016), Foucault: The Birth of Power (2017) and The Early Foucault (2021). The last of these volumes took longer than the others for several reasons, partly because of the complexity of the material, and the difficulties of completing archival work during the covid-19 pandemic. But work was also interrupted with the completion of Shakespearean Territories, and the side-project of writing a book on Canguilhem (2019). This period is coming to a close as the final volume of the Foucault intellectual history, The Archaeology of Foucault, will be published in early 2023.

Other Projects

Of course, this doesn’t encompass all the work I’ve done. Editing Henri Lefebvre has been a consistent theme, from Key Writings in 2003, to Rhythmanalysis in 2004, State, Space, World in 2009, Metaphilosophy in 2016 and On the Rural in 2022. Other edited or co-edited books, on FoucaultKant and Sloterdijk, or editing a translation of a book by Kostas Axelos were important. There are several chapters or articles which don’t neatly fit into these periods.

In additional some projects which I thought I would write didn’t happen, usually because I didn’t get funding. In 2011 I hoped the next book would be The Space of the World, and in 2017 I planned to write a book on Terrain: The Political Materiality of Territory. Elements of both projects were published in rather different form. I’ve also been working on a sequence of papers on Foucault and Shakespeare, two published, and a few others given as lectures, which might be developed into a book at some point. 

The New Project

As I was completing the Foucault work, I began thinking about the next big project. It will be on 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. The pandemic delayed the end of the Foucault work, particularly in terms of access to archives. I’d planned to complete this at the end of summer 2021, but in the end it was spring 2022. That meant a delay to this new project, which I began in early 2022. It will be funded by a Leverhulme major research fellowship from October 2022-September 2025. The first output will be a critical edition of Georges Dumézil’s classic book Mitra-Varuna: An Essay on Two Indo-European Conceptions of Sovereignty, forthcoming in June 2023 with HAU books. There is more about this new project – a summary of the project, some updates on the research, and a few resources – here.