Literati roundup: “Michel Foucault as an activist intellectual…”Foucault and the ‘current’ refugee crisis…

Michel Foucault as an activist intellectual

Foucault’s 1982 – 3 lectures presented his thoughts on the subject of parrhesia, or the truth-telling subject. He found himself confronting governments through speech acts in ways that we have yet to understand.

Foucault portrait. Flickr/Thierry Ehrmann. Some rights reserved.Foucault portrait. Flickr/Thierry Ehrmann. Some rights reserved.Michel Foucault (1926-1984) was one of the most influential intellectuals of our era. His work on sites of power-knowledge such as asylums, schools, hospitals, prisons, and factories continue to resonate and inspire empirical-political work in sociology, politics, geography, anthropology, as well as gender studies, international studies, urban studies, citizenship studies, postcolonial studies, and, cultural studies.

Foucault and the ‘current’ refugee crisis

The specter of Foucault has much to teach us – if we are able to listen.

Syrian refugees arrive on Lesbos. Demotix/Björn Kietzmann. All rights reserved.Syrian refugees arrive on Lesbos. Demotix/Björn Kietzmann. All rights reserved.Over thirty years ago Michel Foucault spoke to the refugee crisis of his day. Today another refugee crisis, the largest since WWII, is spilling out from Syria and North Africa. And tomorrow, Foucault anticipated, there will be yet another current crisis.

The drowned and the saved: Foucault’s texts on migration and solidarity

This is (along with Islamism and neoliberalism) one of a certain number of global issues on which Foucault can be credited with having shown a degree of prescience; and the future he foresees is sombre.

Vietnamese boat people in 1982.Vietnamese boat people in 1982. Some rights reserved.

This is an interview with Michel Foucault conducted by H.Uno, translated by R Nakamura for Shûkan posuto and published in August, 1979. In October, this timely if not prophetic text was translated from the French for openDemocracy by Colin Gordon.  

Original title: “Nanmin mondai ha 21 seku minzoku daiidô no zenchô da”. Interview with H Uno; translated by R Nakamura, Shûkan posuto, 17 August 1979, pp. 34-35.


Dits et écrits III 798 (271) pp 798-800, translated by Ryóji Nakamura. Translated from the French by Colin Gordon, 2015.


Stephen Colbert: What Is Art? What Is Porn?


The most influential academic book ever written is…


A panel of academic booksellers, librarians, and publishers asked the public to vote on which academic book from a list of 20 is “the most influential.” Charles Darwin’s “On The Origin of Species” (1859) dominated with 26% of the vote, beating out the likes of George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eight-Four,” Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations,” and Mary Wollstonecraft’s “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.” The top five also included “The Communist Manifesto,” “The Complete Works of Shakespeare,” Plato’s “The Republic,” and Immanuel Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason.”

Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin’ voted most influential bookVoters had a choice of 20 academic books that changed the worldA panel of experts selected the top 20 books from 200 titles submitted by publishers from the United KingdomNo. 2 is “The Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Darwin’s book, which founded evolutionary biology when it was published in 1859, was the undisputed winner with a quarter of the votes submitted by the public.

Poster shows locations of 42 Great American Novels


One Flew Over the Cuckooo’s Nest by Ken Kesey took place in Salem, Oregon. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair was based in Chicago. The Shining by Stephen King took place in Estes, Colorado. These novels, and 39 others, are on this Great American Novel Map ($30) published by Hog Island Press.


Orhan Pamuk at the time of his 2005 trial for insulting ‘Turkishness’. Picture AFP Source: AP

When Orhan Pamuk answered the phone in 2006 and learned he had won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the novelist made a silent promise to himself:

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