Michel Foucault: New Problematizations

Abstracts


FOUCAULT ON POWER AND GOVERNMENT

PAUL PATTON
This paper examines the transformation in Foucault’s conception of power that began in 1976 and concluded with his definition of power as action on the action of others in 1982. His 1976 lectures raise series of questions about the nature of power: what is power? How is it exercised? Is it ultimately a relation of force? Only some of these questions are answered in the course of these lectures. Foucault’s answer to the question about the nature of power and the appropriate means to analyze it is not forthcoming until “The Subject and Power” in 1982. I argue that the new definition of power offered reflects the discovery of governmentality in 1978 and the lectures on liberal and neoliberal governmentality that followed. I conclude with some remarks about the consequences of this new conception of power for Foucault’s approach and for his analysis of neoliberal governmental power.

Keywords: Foucault, power, government, governmentality, relation of forces, action on the actions of others, neoliberalism


CANALIZING AND CODING: THE NOTION OF “MILIEU”
IN FOUCAULT’S LECTURES ON GOVERNMENTALITY

THOMAS LEMKE
This article seeks to analyze the significance and the dimensions of the notion of “milieu” in Foucault’s lectures on governmentality at the Collège de France. After reconstructing Foucault’s brief genealogy of the term, I will put forward two arguments. First, I will show that the “milieu” constitutes a strategic element in the emergence of a liberal governmentality in the 18th century. Secondly, I will argue that mobilizing the “milieu” not only enables the government of humans but also makes possible a “government of things” (Foucault) that addresses complexes or assemblages of humans and non-humans.

Keywords: milieu, Foucault, governmentality, biopolitics, liberalism


TEMPTED? ON FOUCAULT’S ENGAGEMENT WITH NEOLIBERALISM.
A COMMENTARY ON RECENT ‘SEDUCTION THESES’

MAGNUS PAULSEN HANSEN
The essay questions the recent wave of authors claiming that Foucault became ‘seduced’ by neoliberal thought and ended up endorsing it. It does so by a thorough examination of two books that makes the claim, but with radically different explanations for the fact that Foucault engaged himself with neoliberalism. By analyzing the textual ‘evidence’ of the proponents of the ‘seduction theses’ the essay shows that its premises are rather flawed. Firstly, the lack of normative denunciations in Foucault’s writing on neoliberalism cannot be taken as an endorsement, but as integral to a specific way of conducting ‘non-normative critique (Hansen 2016). Secondly, Foucault’s supposedly anti-statist position is questionable when one reads his lectures carefully. In fact, Foucault’s explicitly distanced himself an “inflationary” critique of the state, identifiable on the extreme left as well as in neoliberal thought.

Keywords: Foucault, neoliberalism, non-normative critique, anti-statism, the left


Another Biopolitics:
Foucault’s reading of MOHEAU

LUCA PALTRINIERI
This article discusses the concept of “biopower” in the light of Michel Foucault’s courses at the Collège de France, especially his lectures between 1978 and 1980. After having offered a definition of “biopower” and “biopolitics”, I will discuss in more details Foucault’s reading of the great book of the French protodemography Recherches et Considérations sur la population de la France [Researches and Considerations on the Population of France] by Jean-Baptiste Moheau. I will try then to answer the question: Why has Foucault defined this book being “the first great text of biopolitics”? My answer points out that in Moheau the government of the human life is not restricted to a technique of intervention in the vital human milieu; it rather formulates explicitly the principles of a “government of morals” – one that addresses particularly the human reproduction. As a result, it is getting clear that the “biopolitical governmentalization of life” must have already been a response of another project of mastering one’s own body and one’s own descendance – a project that was visible namely by the extension of the contraceptive techniques in the popular milieus in France, starting in the middle of the 18th century. To sum up, my thesis has not been designed as a discussion of the Foucauldian thesis; it is rather an extension of his theorizing on biopower, and it has been made possible namely through the lectures Foucault had done at the Collège de France.

Keywords: biopolitics, biopower, Moheau, demography, population, body, reproduction, human vital milieu


THE BIOPOLITICS OF BIRTH: MICHEL FOUCAULT, THE GROUPE INFORMATION SANTÉ AND THE ABORTION RIGHTS STRUGGLE

STUART ELDEN

This piece is an edited and abridged excerpt from Chapter Six of Foucault: The Birth of Power, Polity Press, 2017. It discusses the work of the Groupe Information Santé, an activist organisation established in France in 1972 on the model of the more famous Groupe d’Information sur les Prisons. The GIS comprised doctors, sociologists and philosophers, and its most famous member was Michel Foucault. There were many projects that the group worked on, including industrial accidents and sickness, the health of immigrants, and the struggle for abortion rights. Drawing on their publications, pamphlets, archival material and news reports, this piece discusses the importance of the group, especially concerning reproductive rights and sexual politics more generally. One of the group’s key aims was to provide people with free access to information so they could make informed choices. The piece therefore provides another example of Foucault’s involvement in radical activism in the early 1970s, though his was only one voice in the movement and it stresses the collaborative nature of the project.

Keywords: Foucault, biopolitics, health, struggle for abortion rights, reproductive rights, activism, Groupe Information Santé


INTERDICTION AND IDENTITY:
PHILOSOPHY DURING THE TIMES OF LAW

STOYAN STAVRU
The article examines the philosophical and legal questions raised in connection with the proposed with Draft Natural Persons and Support Measures Bill change in the legal status of persons with intellectual disabilities and mental disorders. The “interests” and “presumable will” as leading criteria for preserving the identity and authenticity of persons placed under interdiction are opposed. Various approaches to identity and how to implement them in the context of the legal framework of incapacity are examined.

Keywords: interdiction, identity, law, persons, interest, presumable will


FOUCAULT, THE HISTORY OF TRUTH
AND THE GENEALOGY OF THE MODERN SUBJECT

DANIELE LORENZINI
This article explores the articulation between two of the main projects that characterise Michel Foucault’s work in the 1970s and the 1980s: the project of a history of truth and the project of a genealogy of the modern subject. After addressing the meaning and ethico-political value of Foucault’s history of truth, focusing above all on the shape it takes in 1980 (namely, a genealogy of a series of “regimes of truth” in Western societies), it offers an analysis of the related project of a genealogy of the modern (Western) subject, and more precisely of Foucault’s account of the processes of subjection (assujettissement) and subjectivation (subjectivation) within the Christian and the modern Western regimes of truth. It eventually argues that the essential political and moral issue that Foucault raises is not whether the subject is autonomous or not, but rather whether he or she is willing to become a subject of critique by opposing the governmental mechanisms of power which try to govern him or her within our contemporary regime of truth and striving to invent new ways of living and being.

Keywords: history of truth, genealogy of the subject, subjection/subjectivation, governmentality, critique


FOUCAULT AND THE USES OF LYING

STILIYAN YOTOV

The interest in the genealogy and in the history of power shared by Foucault and Nietzsche raises the question about the status and the meaning of lying in Foucault’s work. This article is an effort to reconstruct his attitude to this topic, which appears in many places of the discussion but everywhere overshadowed by other problems, especially by those of the truth. It’s the turn in Foucault’s understanding of the truth what motivates me to split the text in two parts. In the first I trace out the stage of his studies devoted to the transgression by which the Self could achieve certainty in itself. But the main accent stresses the discovering of Nietzsche, made by Foucault, against the background of his own conception of knowledge management. No doubt that the following syntheses between power and knowledge leads to temptations to recognize the uses of lying as a justified tool, what Foucault finds out by himself in some praxis of psychotherapy, but also denounces as delusive and counterproductive.
The second part deals with the changes in Foucault’s genealogy, occurring with the reevaluation of the governmentality as a different kind of power exercises and uses of truth. Here I reconstruct the appearance of a series of new concepts, constructed and experimentally implemented by Foucault, which helps to discover the main moments of the so called “subjectification” as a peculiar reshaping of the borders between true and untrue. The culmination of this part is devoted to the practices, in which the authenticity presupposes (increasingly) personal disclosure and fearlessness and, on this ground, the use of half-lies and half-truths seems permissible because in the end it doesn’t mix truth with lie.

Keywords: transgression & authenticity, genealogy, knowledge (connaisance) & illusion, error, lie, pouvoir-savoir, regimes of truth, stratagems of truth, truthfulness (Wahrhaftigkeit), governmentality, conduct of conduct, pastoral power, truth games, veridiction, manifestation of truth, confession & avowal, alethurgy, parrhesia, half-truth, half-lie.

Read more: Sumary Eng

Michel Foucault: New Problematizations
Special issue dedicated to the 90th anniversary
of Michel Foucault

Issue Editors: Antoinette Koleva, Kolyo Koev

PROBLEMATIZING THE “PAST”, OR THE NEW ARCHIVES

Michel Foucault: Considеrations on Marxism,
Phenomenology and Power
Interview by Colin Gordon and Paul Patton

Stuart Elden: Foucault and Intellectual History
Interview by Antoinette Koleva on Elden’s book Foucault’s Last Decade


PROBLEMATIZING THE GOVERNMENT, OR „THE MOVES“ ABOUT THE POWERS
 
Foucault on Power and Government
Paul Patton

Canalizing And Coding: The Notion of “Milieu” In Foucault’s Lectures on Governmentality
Thomas Lemke

Tempted? On Foucault’s Engagement with Neoliberalism.
A Commentary on Recent ‘Seduction Theses’
Magnus Paulsen Hansen


PROBLEMATIZING THE “BIO”, OR BIOPOWERS AND BIOPOLITICS

Biopower Today
Paul Rabinow, Nikolas Rose
Another Biopolitics: Foucault’s Reading of Moheau
Luca Paltrinieri

The Biopolitics of Birth: Michel Foucault, the Groupe Information Santé and the Abortion Rights Struggle
Stuart Elden

The Biopolitics of HIV Prevention Discourse
David M. Halperin

Interdiction and Identity: Philosophy during the Time of Law
Stoyan Stavru


PROBLEMATIZING THE TRUTH AND THE HISTORY, OR THE MODES OF SELF-ELABORATION

Foucault, the History of Truth and the Genealogy of the Modern Subject
Daniele Lorenzini

Foucault and the Uses of Lying
Stiliyan Yotov

“Between History and Eternity”: Michel Foucault’s Philosophical Choice in the 1950s
Elisabetta Basso

Self-Documentation as Counter-Discipline in the Ethical Works
of Michel Foucault
Strand Sheldahl-Thomason


PROBLEMATIZING THROUGH ART PRACTICES, OR INVENTING NEW WAYS OF BEING

M. Foucault: How We Behave: Sex, Food, and Other Ethical Matters,
Interview by Paul Rabinow and H. L. Dreyfus

How We Behave
Frédérique Bergholtz, Grant Watson

If You Don’t Know, Why Are You Asking?
A Map of Similitudes and Coincidences in Five Locales,
Two Gardens, and Along Seven Rivers
Daniel Bozhkov, Michael Joyce
 
Drawing: If You Don’t Know, Why Are You Asking?
A Map of Similitudes and Coincidences in Five Locales,
Two Gardens, and Along Seven Rivers
Daniel Bozhkov, Michael Joyce

Mathieu Lindon, Learning What Love Means –
Foucault in the Autobiographical
Interview by Antoinette Koleva

MARGINS

In the Interstices of a Possible Ontology of the Present: Between Foucault and Merleau-Ponty (on Judith Revel, Foucault avec Merleau-Ponty. Ontologie politique, présentisme et histoire, 2016)
Paula Angelova

IN MEMORIAM

Thomas Luckmann (1927–2016)

“Partially by chance, and partially because, after all,
it gives me pleasure”.
A conversation with Thomas Luckmann

Jerzy Szacki (1929–2016)

Krastyo Petkov (1943–2016)

Zygmunt Bauman (1925–2016)

Scientific Events

The Bulgarian Participation in ESS: Academic and Political Benefits and Challenges (20.06.2016, Sofia)
Petya Ilieva-Trichkova

Balkan Life Courses: Family, Childhood, Youth, and Old Age
in Southeast Europe. 8th InASEA Congress (15–17.09.2016, Sofia)
Anelia Avdzhieva, Svetoslava Mancheva

Opportunities for the Theory of Mediation Structures.
Experimental Scientific Session of the Institute for Critical Theory
of Supermodernity (30.09–01.10. 2016, Sofia)
Martina Mineva

Youth in Transition Countries: New Context, New Role, New Challenges and Threats (6–7.10. 2016, Toruń)
Lachezar Nyagolov

General Assembly Meeting of the Bulgarian Sociological Association. Scientific Conference “‘Time and Signs’:
Sociology in the Dialogue between Generations”
(22.11.2016, Sofia)
Petya Klimentova
    
A Praxeological Turnabout: from Ethnomethodology to Socioanalysis. 25 Years Institute for Critical Social Studies,
5 years Specialty “Sociology and Sciences of Man”
(26–27.11.2016, Plovdiv)
Martina Mineva

Sociological Perspectives on the Labour Market, Education,
and Employment. Conference of the Institute for the Study
of Societies and Knowledge at BAS, with the support
of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (28–29.11.2016, Sofia)
Elitsa Dimitrova, Kamelya Petkova

COMMENTS AND REVIEWS

Social Dimensions of Human Insecurity in the Context
of Risk Society (G. Fotev, Human Insecurity, Iztok-Zapad, 2016)
Valentina Zlatanova

The Contradictions of Socialist Urbanism
(Е. Stanoeva, Sofia: Sofia: Ideology, Urban Planning and Life
under Socialism, Prosveta, 2016)
Todor Hristov

Post-Western “Revolution” in Sociology
(L. Roulleau-Berger, Post-Western Revolution in Sociology:
from China to Europe, Brill, 2016)
Svetla Koleva

Zygmunt Bauman: “Face-to-face” communication is the only solution to the “Migrant and Refugee Crisis”
(Z. Bauman, Strangers at Our Door, Iztok-Zapad, 2016)
Emil Koen


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