The Foucault Effect

Event Date: 3 and 4 June 2011
Clore Lecture Theatre
Clore Management Centre
Birkbeck College
Malet Street, Bloomsbury
London WC1E 7HX

The Birkbeck Centre for Law and the Humanities presents:


A Conference at Birkbeck College, University of London Reflecting on 20 years of
The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality


Fabienne Brion, Graham Burchell, Daniel Defert, Peter Fitzpatrick, Ben Golder, Colin Gordon, Patrick Hanafin, Bernard Harcourt, Peter Miller, Maria Carolina Olarte, Giovanna Procacci, Paul Patton, Jonathan Simon

Published seven years after Michel Foucault’s death, The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality provided access to a little known and major new area of his later research, accompanied and illustrated by a rich collection of complementary studies by his co-researchers. The volume has served over the past 20 years as an influential and widely cited source, stimulating new work in many fields. In the past decade its effects has been accompanied by the acclaimed, ongoing publication of Foucault’s lectures, including the full original sources of The Foucault Effect. Foucault’s work on governmentality is now recognised as one of the important developments in later twentieth-century reflection on the political, whose implications may not yet have been fully registered.

This event brings together the editors and several contributors to The Foucault Effect, along with leading international scholars who have taken up and explored its themes in several interconnected areas, engaging with the history and issues of a changing present. Among them are editors of two important new publications:

Lectures on The Will to Know (Foucault’s first College de France lecture series, edited by Daniel Defert) and Mal Faire, Dire Vrai (his 1981 Louvain lectures on confession, criminology and social defence, edited by Fabienne Brion and Bernard Harcourt, to be published in French by Louvain University Press and in English by Chicago University Press). Both of these new publications are likely to modify our understanding of Foucault’s enterprise and of its relevance to our time.

The programme and contributions will be structured around five topic areas:

– Global and postcolonial dimensions

– Law, rights, justice, punishment

– Problematising the political and the left

– The history of governmentality

– Social defence in the 21st century


Day 1

Welcome and Introduction by Patrick Hanafin.

Panel 1

Chair: Patrick Hanafin

Daniel Defert The emergence of power in Michel Foucault’s 1970-71 lectures

Colin Gordon Governmentality and the genealogy of politics

Peter Fitzpatrick and Maria Carolina Olarte Foucault and the Laws of Death

Discussant: Stuart Elden


Panel 1 discussion.

Day 2

Panel 2

Chair: Colin Gordon

Graham Burchell Reflections on governmentalities and political culture (with Italy in mind)

Paul PattonGovernmentality and public reason: the critique of Neo-liberalism revisited

Panel 2 discussion.

Panel 3

Chair:  Véronique Voruz

Fabienne Brion Governmentality, citizenship and dangerousness

Bernard Harcourt The Punitive Order: Free Markets, Neoliberalism, and Mass Incarceration in the United States

Panel 3 discussion.

Panel 4

Chair: Frederick Cowell

Giovanna Procacci Exploring security (AUDIO HERE)

Peter Miller The Calculating Self (AUDIO HERE)

Panel 4 discussion.

Panel 5

Chair: Peter Fitzpatrick

Ben GolderThe Limits and Possibilities of a Foucauldian Politics of Rights

Jonathan SimonFrom the Medical Model to the Humanitarian Crisis Model: California’s Prison Health Crisis and the Future of Imprisonment

Panel 5 Discussion.

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