Re: [Foucault-L] The Archaeology of Knowledge

Well, power is not an explicit object of analysis in the later work, but it
is not, in fact absent from AK

"In this sense, discourse ceases to be what it is for the exegetic attitude:
an inexhaustible treasure from which one can always draw new, and always
unpredictable riches; a providence that has always spoken in advance, and
which enables one to hear, when one knows how to listen, retrospective
oracles; it appears as an asset ? finite, limited, desirable, useful ? that
has its own rules of appearance, but also its own conditions of
appropriation and operation; an asset that consequently, from the moment of
its existence (and not only in its ?practical applications?), poses the
question of power; an asset that is, by nature, the object of a struggle, a
political struggle" (p. 120 of English translation)

I think that the dynamic of power relations in the genealogical work is
fundamentally taken from the idea of dispersion in the Archaeology, although
the term really needs to be understood in its technical sense (viz. in
chemistry, for example, a dispersion is a mixture of heterogeneous
substances, such as an aerosol -- a liquid in a gas). If it's not too
presumptuous to recommend some of my own work, this is something I argued in
a piece, "Foucault and Power Revisited" published in 2004 in the European
Journal of Political Theory.

I think an interesting and illuminating way of approaching AK is to put it
in conversation with Deleuze and Lacan's work from the same time. If you
read it alongside Deleuze's Logic of Sense and Lacan's Seminar XI, you can
see a lot of resonances and what is effectively a conversation going on
among the three of them.


Dr. Nathan Widder
Senior Lecturer in Political Theory
Royal Holloway, University of London
Department of Politics and International Relations
Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, United Kingdom
Web page:
Genealogies of Difference:
Reflections on Time and Politics:

-----Original Message-----
From: foucault-l-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:foucault-l-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Chetan Vemuri
Sent: 15 October 2008 21:19
To: Mailing-list
Subject: Re: [Foucault-L] The Archaeology of Knowledge

I would definitely refer to Part 2, chapters 2-3 on "The Formation of
Objects" as they talk about what you ask in depth.

On Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 12:18 PM, Chetan Vemuri

> Well, with regards to the third question, that was not even an issue until
> way after the time of A&K so it might be a bit anachronistic to ask that
> this book.
> I have to rush quickly so I'll respond to the previous two later tongiht,
> but are you positing those as weaknesses of the book?
> On 10/15/08, Frieder Vogelmann <f.vogelmann@xxxxxxx> wrote:
>> no, not in the sense that it's hard to read - I don't consider it to be
>> more difficult than "The Order of Things" or "Madness and Civiliization"
>> What I mean is that it requires a lot of work on questions like:
>> - How specific must rules of formation be? They should delimit one
>> discourse from another, though must be broad enough to allow for all the
>> variance possible within one discourse. What is the criterion used?
>> - How do these rules exactly work (if we presume that Dreyfus &
>> Rabinow got it wrong)?
>> - What exactly is the relationship between power (as in Foucaults
>> later texts, that is, a restructuring of the field of possible actions)
>> and discursive practices?
>> Answering these question and "working" with the archeological method on
>> the material I try to analyze is the hard part - at least for me, as I
>> am trying to use the Archeology of Knowledge as a reearch tool.
>> What do you think? What's your approach on the Archeology?
>> Chetan Vemuri schrieb:
>> > hard to work with in what way?
>> > In that its difficult to read?
>> >
>> > On Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 1:56 AM, Frieder Vogelmann <f.vogelmann@xxxxxxx
>> >wrote:
>> >
>> >> Yes, I do! I do like the book's style, but more important is the
>> >> of archeology as a method on Foucault's later texts. I'm thinking
>> >> especially on the two lectures on the History of Governementalité
>> >> (1978-1979), which is often misread as a piece of history of political
>> >> ideas. If one instead takes it to use archeology, the term
>> >> acquires the importance it is given by Foucault when he claims it
>> >> the operator that drove the transformation described in "The order of
>> >> things" (see the end of Lecture 3 on January 25th, 1978).
>> >>
>> >> Bringing archeology back in also helps, I think, in giving up the
>> >> strange trend of breaking up "governementalité" in "gouverner" and
>> >> "mentalité" (at least this was a trend in the German and English
>> >> literature, ignoring the editor of the lectures, M.Senellart, who
>> >> explains it to be derived from "governemental"), which in turn makes
>> the
>> >> study of Governementalités into a study of mentalities. Acknowledging
>> >> the archeological method, studying forms of governementalité means
>> first
>> >> of all determining the "form of problematization" a specific political
>> >> rationality reacts to.
>> >>
>> >> These are just two reasons I would put some emphasis on the Archeology
>> >> of Knowledge, though I admit that it is a book that is hard to work
>> with.
>> >>
>> >> Frieder
>> >>
>> >> Chetan Vemuri schrieb:
>> >>> So there's a debate over the usefulness of The Archaeology of
>> Knowledge
>> >> in
>> >>> Foucault's oeuvre. Some feel its the black sheep of his work, a
>> >>> attempt at defining his methodology, others feel its a rich,
>> fascinating
>> >> set
>> >>> of studies of discursive practices. Some feel it is flawed, others
>> think
>> >>> not. This has been one of my favorite Foucault books yet many find it
>> >> dull
>> >>> and uninteresting.
>> >>> Is there anyone else that defends its strong merits and value for
>> >>> understanding Foucault's work in general?
>> >>>
>> >> _______________________________________________
>> >> Foucault-L mailing list
>> >>
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> _______________________________________________
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> --
> Chetan Vemuri
> West Des Moines, IA
> aryavartacnsrn@xxxxxxxxx
> (515)-418-2771
> "You say you want a Revolution! Well you know, we all want to change the
> world"

Chetan Vemuri
West Des Moines, IA
"You say you want a Revolution! Well you know, we all want to change the
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