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Foucault's Critique of Neoliberalism

Lecturer: James Muldoon

Originally Taught: Summer School 2012

This course aims to give an introduction to Foucault's lectures given at the Collège de France from 1977-9:  Security, Territory, Population and The Birth of Biopolitics. These lectures contain some of Foucault's most interesting unpublished work and develop his now well-known concepts of biopolitics, governmentality and the dispositif [apparatus]. They continue his earlier Nietzschean inspired studies of disciplinary power in new directions, analysing the rise of “societies of security” and tracing the emergence of governmentality back to the pastoral power of the early Christian church. Foucault also undertakes an analysis of liberalism as a mode of governance and examines the complex relationship between classical liberalism and the emergence of neoliberalism in the latter half of the twentieth century. Foucault’s analysis of neoliberalism deserves particular attention because over the past thirty years neoliberalism has become the dominant political and economic ideology of Anglo-American societies and a reference point for new critiques of capitalism. This course will locate Foucault in relation to previous critiques of political economy by Marx and also explore his relation to his contemporaries and followers such as Deleuze, Negri, Lazzarato and Wendy Brown.

Course Schedule
Seminar 1: Introduction: Reading Foucault and an Introduction to Neoliberalism
Seminar 2: From Disciplinary Societies to Societies of Security
Seminar 3: Governmentality and Pastoral Power
Seminar 4: Liberalism as a Technique of Governmentality
Seminar 5: From Liberalism to Neoliberalism

Readings: excerpts from Security, Territory, Population and The Birth of Biopolitics.

Course difficulty level: introductory