20 Years of The Foucault Effect

16 06 2011

The Birbeck Centre for Law and the Humanities has very kindly made available, in iPod friendly format, the proceedings of a recent conference celebrating the anniversary of the hugely influential Foucault Effect, a milestone in the dissemination of Foucault’s later ideas, particulary within the Anglophone world.

More importantly, as a characteristically incisive Jonathan Simon pointed out during his address; appearing as it did some seven years after Foucault’s death, The Foucault Effect was an exhortation to “get back to work”. After all, Foucault, in his own words, “[did not] write for an audience. [He wrote] for users, not readers”. While his place in the sociological canon is richly warranted, to treat his works in themselves as a core focus of scholarly analysis is to negate their purpose: That of a toolkit by which individuals can trace and understand power relations in society, and hope, perhaps, to transcend them.

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