Power and resistance in the later Foucault

Abstract

FEEL FREE TO CITE - IGNORE IN-PDF REQUEST The eight year gap between the publication of Volume I (1976) of The History of Sexuality and Volumes II and III (1984) has provoked a fair amount of debate within scholarly circles. Does it represent a fundamental rethinking of the analysis of power and knowledge begun in Volume I, or is something else at stake? And what does the shift in emphasis regarding power and resistance after these eight years ultimately entail? James Miller’s influential, if often flawed, biography of Foucault has provided one of the leading interpretations of this gap in Foucault’s publishing career. On Miller’s account, the turn towards governmentality and technologies of the self represents something of a tacit admission of failure on Foucault’s part regarding his Volume I rendering of power and resistance.1 Now, it seems to me that there is something right about this reading – we can map a shift in Foucault’s consideration of power and resistance in this period, culminating in the 1982 essay, “The Subject and Power,” which it seems to me can be read as a perverse re-writing of the themes of Volume I. However, the idea that this eight year period represents a ‘hard break,’ or an introduction of an incommensurability between resistance as tactical reversal (Volume I) and resistance as..

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