Foucault: The Birth of Power (2017)

Foucault News

elden-bopStuart Elden, Foucault: The Birth of Power, Polity, 2017

Michel Foucault’s The Archaeology of Knowledge was published in March 1969; Discipline and Punish in February 1975. Although only six years apart, the difference in tone is stark: the former is a methodological treatise, the latter a call to arms. What accounts for the radical shift in Foucault’s approach?

Foucault’s time in Tunisia had been a political awakening for him, and he returned to a France much changed by the turmoil of 1968. He taught at the experimental University of Vincennes and then moved to a prestigious position at the Collège de France. He quickly became involved in activist work concerning prisons and health issues such as abortion rights, and in his seminars he built research teams to conduct collaborative work, often around issues related to his lectures and activism.

Foucault: The Birth of Power makes use of a range…

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Intervention Symposium – “Did We Accomplish the Revolution in Geographic Thought?”

44 years ago we published David Harvey’s essay “Revolutionary and Counter-Revolutionary Theory in Geography and the Problem of Ghetto Formation”. Taking geographers to task, demanding some serious self-criticism, it was subject to its fair share of discussion and debate then, has re-appeared in a few venues over the years (from Harvey’s own Social Justice and the City, to our “best of”, and a number of criticalreaders), and, we’re pleased to say, it’s still providing food for thought today…

At the 2016 AAG annual meeting in San Francisco, Joaquín Villanueva organised a panel session, “Did We Accomplish the Revolution in Geographic Thought?”, inviting participants Matthew Hannah, George Henderson, Don Mitchell, Jenny Pickerill, Robert Ross and Simon Springer to consider the meaning of Harvey’s call for revolutionary auto-critique today: Does it still apply? How have the stakes changed? What is the battle over now? What does contemporary radical geographic thought look like? And what is its value…

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Dispossession and territory at the AA School of Architecture

Next week I will be at the AA School of Architecture to discuss the work of students of Diploma 14, the unit led by Pier Vittorio Aureli and Maria Shéhérazade Giudici. I was astonished to discover the subject they chose for their research/project studios this term, as it totally resonates with the work I have been doing in the last few years. I have followed Aureli’s interventions since The Project of Autonomy (which I reviewed here a while ago, in Spanish), was aware of Giudici’s engaging and promising dissertation and their work together for the collective The City as a Project, but didn’t know about their current explorations, dealing with the notion of territory and dispossession at several scales, the same terrain I have been probing for several years now (e.g. see here, here, here and, especially, here). Their focus is on the architectural project as a tool for understanding and transforming existing configurations of territory, so I am sure many helpful complementarities with my perspective on planning and urbanization will emerge from the discussion. It will be so interesting to see what the students are doing with this intriguing and in my opinion indispensable approach.


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David Harvey and Robert Brenner discuss Trump, finance and the end of capitalism

Here is the video of the debate between David Harvey and Robert Brenner last week at the CUNY Graduate Center, with the title ‘What now? The roots of the economic crisis and the way forward’. Don’t miss the discussion about Trump, especially in the last third of the footage.

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Henri Lefebvre, Marxist Thought and the City published and 30% discount code

Progressive Geographies

imageHenri Lefebvre, Marxist Thought and the City, translated by Robert Bonnano and with a brief preface by me has been published by University of Minnesota Press. It is available in cloth and paperback editions, and can be ordered with a 30% discount code – details in the flyer (valid until 1 March 2017).

For the first time in English, Lefebvre’s essential work on how Marx and Engels conceptualized the development of the city

Henri Lefebvre reviews the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels for analysis on the life and growth of the city, describing its transition from life under feudalism to modern industrial capitalism. Now available in English, Marxist Thought and the City provides background and supplementary material to Lefebvre’s other works and marks a pivotal point in his evolution as a thinker.

This pithy, provocative little book brings Marxist humanism to bear on urban problems as pressing today as…

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Jean-Pierre Garnier en Can Batlló | Pensar y resistir las geografías del capital

Espais Critics trae al sociólogo anarquista Jean-Pierre Garnier a Barcelona. Será en un coloquio, nada menos que en Can Batlló, insigne okupa local, para presentar el libro que Rosa Tello ha editado para Icaria bajo el título Jean-Pierre Garnier. Un sociólogo urbano a contracorriente. ¡Y tanto!

Tengo ganas desde hace tiempo de leer este volumen —número 8 de la colección Espacios Críticos— especialmente para ordenar cronológicamente las batallas personales que Garnier me ha contado a lo largo de varios años de amistad: de su encarcelamiento en la Cuba revolucionaria por ser “demasiado radical” a su encuentro con Grace Kelly, de su inmersión en el mundo del trapicheo en las banlieues parisinas para poder completar sus investigaciones a sus múltiples, interminables disputas y controversias con los mandarines de la izquierda intelectual francesa. Seguro que la sección biográfica que incorporan todas las entregas de esta serie de libros es en este caso de antología.

Garnier estará acompañado por Tello, Manuel Delgado, Marc Dalmau y Pere López, en un debate moderado por Núria Benach. No se lo pierdan, saltarán chispas. ¡Nos vemos por allí!


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Reclaiming the Commons | Critical art and translocality

Next week I will join a number of artists, activists and scholars at Hochschule Luzern – Design & Kunst to participate in the symposium ‘How critique becomes translocal – Reclaiming the commons’. Here is the presentation of the event:

In 2014, Mexican artist Teresa Margolles presented her installation La Búsqueda at Migrosmuseum in Zurich. The work probed a mysterious series of female homicides. La Búsqueda is a monument to the extreme violence in the northern Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez. The experience of seeing La Búsqueda in a Swiss art museum is the starting point for our conference, which explores the effects of art addressing topics that are situated in a specific local and cultural context and which use activist artistic or mediating strategies for reclaiming the ‘commons,’ as Alvaro Sevilla-Buitrago defines it.

What happens with unique codes and knowledge when they cannot be deciphered in their full complexity elsewhere? How can activist strategies against ‘enclosures’ take place in public spheres—sites that constitute, after Ancenl/Girel, ‘new territories of art’—which grow at the city center as much as on the outskirts, and which question and re-define the place of the artist in the city and in people’s everyday life.

Does the transfer of artwork into a different context change its meaning and reception, and if so, what are the consequences? Are misunderstandings by the audience an inherent part of these negotiations, and can they therefore be productive in a critical way? Can a work still become political without an understanding of its specific translocal implications? Or can critique only work within a specific local constellation? How can we reclaim the commons in mediation and artistic practices taking into account that, on the one hand, every translation creates new meanings, and, on the other hand, it reflects one’s specific position?

The title of my presentation is ‘Art and the collective imagination of the commons’. This is part of an ongoing attempt to deal with the enclosure of popular imaginations—particularly urban imaginations—as a new frontier of dispossession related with Modernist design. Although my main focus is planning and urban policy, I am also exploring their connection to broader expressions with the capacity to visualize and disseminate a certain pattern of urbanity such as literature, art and advertising, especially during the interwar period. In Lucerne I will illustrate this integration of governmental/visualizing devices with the experience of Neue Sachlichkeit in painting, architecture, photography and literature. You can find more information about the event here.


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