Foucault and agency

Interesting debate about agency and situatedness on the Foucault-l list right now.

Clare O’Farrell:

I’ve noticed that in all the articles and interviews that were originally published in Japan, Foucault was very careful to say that his work was done within a French context. Paradoxically, in my view, it is Foucault’s very insistance on the specific historical and geographical location of his work that makes it so usable by others.

Universal ideas often tend to exert terrorist effects – as in actuality they really only apply to specific situations once you analyse their origins. One often wonders when presented with universal ideas, why they don’t quite fit a whole range of things they are meant to apply to and one can become frustrated, not
to mention feel excluded, by the lack of fit after a while.

On the other hand quite specific ideas which apply to quite specific situations can be easily adapted and changed as necessary by using a process of analogy to fit other situations. This is one of the reasons, in my view, why Foucault’s work is so productive in so many geographical and disciplinary arenas.

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