Re: [Foucault-L] Genealogy Archaeology Divide

Hi Jared

The question you ask in your supposed naivety is anything but a naïve question; in fact, I think it goes to the heart of how to understand Foucault; not in terms of excavating the “real” Foucault, but of different forms of understandings of his works.

The simple answer to your question is that there is no simple answer; from the very first to the very last, Foucault constantly recast the work he had done in relation to the work he was currently doing; what is at the heart of your question is how we understand this.

I have notice some trends in the secondary commentary on Foucault:

Detractors of Foucault seem to break his work down in to three distinct and discontinuous periods; roughly: 1960s archaeology of knowledge; 1970s genealogy of power; 1980 ethics of the self.

More sympathetic analyses also use this periodisation, but tend not to see them as three isolated blocks and thus try to detail the transition from one to the other.

Personally, I see a greater coherence to Foucault’s work than either of these position, albeit with exceptions, tend to express: I think Foucault was always asking essentially the same question – “what are we now?” – but that this question was posed in different ways to different domains of analyses.

In his last lecture series at the Collège de France, Foucault formulated these transitions as follows:

Basically, I’ve always tried to articulate among modes of veridiction, techniques of governmentality and practices of the self…such an undertaking entails analysis of complex relations amongst three distinct elements that neither are reduced one to the other nor absorbed one by the others, but whose relations are constitutive of one another. These three elements are: knowledge studies in the specificity of the veridiction; relations of power, studied…in procedures by which the conduct of men is governed; and finally modes of constitution of the subject across practices of the self. It is by carrying out this triple theoretical displacement of the theme of knowledge toward that of veridiction, of the theme of domination toward that of government, and of the theme of the individual toward that of practices of the self that it seems to me one can study the relations between truth, power, and the subject without ever reducing one to the other (cited in Flynn, T., Sartre, Foucault, and Historical Reason, vol. 2, London, 2005: 262).

What I think one should take from this passage with regard to your question is the point about a triple theoretical displacement: from knowledge to power/knowledge to veridiction; from domination to power to government; and from individual to subject to self.

Hope this has been of some use - K

> -----Original Message-----
> From: jaredkennard@xxxxxxxxx
> Sent: Sat, 22 Sep 2007 23:36:05 -0600
> To: foucault-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: [Foucault-L] Genealogy Archaeology Divide
> This question may seem a bit naive but I will ask it anyway. I have been
> doing some research on Foucault's genealogy and archaeology and have come
> to
> the conclusion that in the course of his work the latter is more or less
> replaced by the former. I began my inquiry with the understanding that
> the
> early works of Foucault were conducted under a sort of rubric of
> archaeology, as he lays out in various places. It seems, however, that
> he
> finds this method unsatisfactory and moves to the genealogical method
> instead. My problem is that in stead of a clean break or clear
> differentiation between the two methodologies he seems to simply recast
> his
> works as works of genealogy instead of archaeology. In the interview he
> gave with Rabinow and Dreyfus entitled "On the Genealogy of Ethics" he
> states that: "three domains of genealogy are possible," and that "all
> three
> were Madness and Civilization." Furthermore, The Birth of
> the
> Clinic and The Order of Things studied one of these three axis, while
> Discipline and Punish and History of Sexuality Studied the other two.
> With
> out getting into the specifics of what these three possibilities are,
> since
> that doesn't seem relevant to the problem at hand, it does seem quite
> obvious that he is brushing over earlier statements he has made about his
> early works being archaeology's; or perhaps he is attempting to apply a
> sort
> of discursive eraser.
> Ultimately my problem boils down to this: if what I have said above is
> correct than where, if anywhere, does he talk about this move he has
> made?
> Has archaeology been removed as an analytical tool due to the problems
> this
> methodology creates? And if so in what ways does genealogy differ from
> its
> predecessor? How is it that the genealogical form can simply replace the
> archaeological one?
> Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
> Jared
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[Foucault-L] Genealogy Archaeology Divide, Jared Kennard
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