A third new paper: Foucault’s Analytics of War

Another new paper is available in an interesting-looking new journal:

“Michel Foucault’s Analytics of War: The Social, the International, and the Racial”

by Vivienne Jabri, King’s College London


The absence of the international as a distinct socio-political sphere in
Michel Foucault’s work forms a major part of the postcolonial critique of his writings. The absence of the international has a number of consequences for any critical engagement with Foucault in the context of global politics. The significance of these consequences becomes apparent when we consider Foucault’s analytics of war and power, situate these in relation to the particularity of the international, consider the very pertinent critiques of Foucault emanating from postcolonial writings, and finally re-locate Foucault in the international not, as is the predominant approach in International Relations, through the application of Foucaultian concepts, but through Foucault’s own political writings on the non-western arena, specifically his engagement with the Iranian Revolution. While limited in their scope, an evaluation of these writings appears to vindicate postcolonial critiques of Foucault, though with some revealing qualifications.

After noting that Iran is back on the menu the author writes:

This, then, is but one fragment of the international arena, a place that many of us subject to analyses informed by Foucault’s writings on war and power. Such analyses suggest that what at first sight appears to form a geo-strategic concern is more properly located in the dynamics that most concerned Foucault, namely governmentality and biopolitics. While Foucault himself said relatively little about the sphere of the international as a distinct sphere, concentrating on operations of power within specifically western societies and their liberal modes of government, his analytics of war and power have enabled crucial insights into our understanding of the workings of power globally. A number of us draw on these analytics to, for example, understand the present practices associated with the so-called ‘‘war against terrorism,’’ with international policing regimes against the trafficking of drugs and people, with the representation and treatment of migrants, with recent efforts at so-called state-building and reconstruction, all constituting Foucaultian inspired
applications that take Foucault in directions that would perhaps have
surprised him, though we can never know this (Dillon and Reid 2001; Bigo 2002; Huysmans 2004; Jabri 2005, 2006).

International Political Sociology, 1(1),  67-81.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-5687.2007.00005.x


One Response

  1. Jeremy, thanks for posting this article and sending me to this issue of International Political Sociology. In the same issue, I found Michael Dillon’s “Governing Terror: The State of Emergency of Biopolitical Emergence.” Dillon’s article explores the same themes of “Governing through contingency: The security of biopolitical governance,” which you told us about in July.

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