Call for panelists: Global Governance as Governmentality

Jason Weidner is looking for panelists for the following session. Contact him for details:

International Studies Association (ISA) 16-19 March 2011, Montreal

Call for Participants for a Proposed Panel: Global Governance as Governmentality

The “global governance” paradigm has become increasingly central to the study of world politics, offering an analytical framework for investigating the shift in political authority away from its traditional locus in the nation-state. In recent years, the global governance paradigm has been challenged by a growing body of research that draws inspiration from Michel Foucault’s analytics of “governmentality.” This “global governmentality” approach has offered a critique of, and an alternative to, theories and discourses of global governance, by (1) critically examining the connection between the language of governance and its associated political imaginary, and (2) by drawing attention to the diverse governmental assemblages—combinations of expert forms of knowledge, political technologies and rationalities—that seek to order political reality, but which are occluded by the global governance paradigm.

Furthermore, the recently released publication and translation of Foucault’s lectures at the Collège de France, Security, Territory, Population and The Birth of Biopolitics, have opened up a number of new directions for critical analyses of governmental assemblages and their relation to broader questions of power and world order.

The aim of this panel is to contribute to the growing governmentality research program and to offer a critical alternative to the dominant global governance paradigm. We are particularly interested in innovative papers that combine the theoretical with the empirical, and which contribute to the advancement of a governmentality approach to issues most often grouped under the category of “global governance.”

Please email paper proposals (250 words) by May 21st, 2010 to:

Jason Weidner:

Jason Weidner

Department of Politics & International Relations

Florida International University

Miami, FL USA


THE reviews Spaces of Security

Times Higher Ed has a nice review of Security and Insecurity: Geographies of the War on Terror, edited by Alan Ingram and Klaus Dodds, published by Ashgate (our Foucault book publisher).

The reviewer, Simon Reid-Henry, who directs the Centre for Global Security and Development, Queen Mary, University of London, describes it as:

a fascinating cross-section of contemporary understandings of security that take us well beyond stock-in-trade critiques of the political lassitude and legal effrontery of Western states, particularly the previous US Administration.

Such a task could have been undertaken within a range of academic disciplines, of course, but this book is overwhelmingly the work of geographers. Although they are aware of the moral, legal, ethical and political questions posed by the subject matter, the main points they raise are primarily geographical ones. And while Ingram and Dodds’ overarching aim may be to explore the production of security discourse within variously non-political and cultural arenas, they do so only after covering geography’s more traditional base – geopolitics. The result is a satisfying analytical arc, which begins with an international- relations critique of Tony Blair’s vision of “just” war and ends in artwork that projects security plans from Baghdad on to a map of Brussels to bring the “urban geopolitics” of the Iraqi capital closer to home.

Should be useful for people reading through Security, Territory, Population.

New Protevi notes; cfp Philosophy of Life

Two quick items via the Continental Philosophy blog:

1. John Protevi is posting his course notes on Security, Territory, Population

2. A call for papers has been issued for a conference on the philosophy of life, including “life, power and politics (Foucault and Agamben).”

Both via CP.

Review of Security, Territory, Population

Security, Territory, Population which was published in English earlier this year has been reviewed in Ephemera by Nick Butler.

Where law is understood as a negative power (it prevents, it forbids, it prohibits, etc.), and where discipline is understood as a positive power (it obliges, it prescribes, it incites, etc.), security is understood as neither a negative nor a positive power. Instead, Foucault argues, security ‘let’s things happen’ and then reacts to this reality in a certain way in order to limit or even neutralize its more random, aleatory effects (p. 46-47). By way of example, Foucault discusses the kinds of techniques which are used to deal with various diseases in different periods. The juridical-legal response to leprosy in the fourteenth and fifteenth century and the disciplinary response to the plague in the sixteenth and seventeenth century are covered by Foucault in more detail in History of Madness and Discipline and Punish.

STP notes posted (chapter 1)

Foucault’s Minions:

First, some definitions

  1. Bio-power: a “set of mechanisms” of power that focus upon the “biological feature of the human species”. Bio-power is concerned with species, with a mass, opposed to disciplinary power which is concerned with humans as individuals (1). The term is probably familiar, especially after our previous reading of “Society Must Be Defended”, lecture eleven.
  2. Power: “a set of procedures” (2) and processes that “are not ‘self-generating’ or ‘self subsistent'”. Power is a product and part of relationships (a cause and effect?). Power within one discourse or relation shares similar structures and characteristics to power within other discourses or relations (2).
  3. “politics of truth”: Foucault uses this intriguing phrase to define philosophy. In short, “the politics of truth” is Foucault’s enterprise, the term for his interrogation and “analysis of mechanisms of power”. Foucault suggests, “I see its role as that of showing the knowledge effects produced by the struggles, confrontations, and battles that take place within our society, and by the tactics of power that are the elements of this struggle” (3). Are the “politics of truth” an example of an epistemological analysis?

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STP reading

Foucault’s Minions (!) are doing a reading of chapter 1 from Security, Territory, Population this week.

People are free to comment there. I don’t know how successful these things can be when held virtually. Perhaps we need some specific question to respond to.

Elden: rethinking governmentality

Stuart Elden’s article “Rethinking governmentality” came out earlier this year and I’m a little slow linking to it, but don’t miss it. It’s an introduction to a whole section of the same name in the journal Political Geography. The other papers included “From micro-powers to governmentality: Foucault’s work on statehood, state formation, statecraft and state power” by Bob Jessop, “Governing through contingency: The security of biopolitical governance” by Michael Dillon, and “Spaces of security: The example of the town. Lecture of 11th January 1978” by Michel Foucault (from STP).

Excerpt from Stuart’s piece:

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