Understanding the intricacies of the French system and its potential for immobility helps to understand the non-emergence of Foucault within French geography. Research is still largely directed centrally within programmes defined by the Ministry of Research and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Cnrs Collignon, Although naturally not restricted to the academy, such a definition seems convincingly apt in France, land of the supposedly reason-led planification nationale.
Instead, as one anonymous colleague put it, the system rewards cooptation through spiritual formatting from an early stage, rewarding those who are strong enough to navigate through a jungle of implicit and explicit rules, gaining substantial diplomatic and strategic skills in the process and wisely choosing well-placed mentors Anon , personal communication.
In comparison to British or North American contexts, the French geographical world is like a small family within which — as one geographer put it — il faut montrer patte blanche Chivallon, , pers. Furthermore, a form of intellectual immobility is maintained by hierarchy: academics only get to supervise doctoral theses towards the end of their careers, once they have attained the status of full professors, after passing another hurdle, similar to the German Habilitation, by writing what amounts to a second thesis. Anything identified as jargon is savagely frowned upon.
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As Bourdieu has noted, this need to position oneself within the academia has an important effect on how ideas are spread and appropriated, relating to the varying visibility of different thinkers. Another substantial difference in France is the rarity of public debates, partly due to the absence of recent paradigmatic change, due mainly to reduced generational renewal. In consequence of this highly codified French system, the smaller, marginal or peripheral schools in Switzerland and Quebec have sometimes acted as catalysts and innovators, largely simply by staying outside of partisan politics in France.
Michel Foucault's Geography - Geography
The former will be discussed more at length towards the end of this paper. More convincing, I believe, is that opinion that Foucault was read, but that the academic and political contexts were not conducive to his absorption and adaptation in any meaningful way. His impact was therefore much more difficult to identify than within the more obviously allusive Anglo way of writing. Foucault, questioning universalising knowledge — a French obsession — was also strategically avoided. This provided a second impetus to explore his work, after the first wave provoked by Raffestin in the Eighties.
While this is of course a rather rash statement, it nevertheless reflects to a certain extent how Foucault has been perceived in France. Translation and transposition, as well as the different way quotes and literature reviews are used in both traditions are important factors in explaining the different reception of Foucault. This need to adapt an author to a discipline, an act of conceptual translation, may be paradoxically easier when the author is writing in another language. Cusset had further suggested that because English is a more playful language it desecrates words more eagerly than French Cusset, , making it easier for Anglos to reinvent Foucault to suit a new paradigm.
Chivallon is much less amused by this desecration of Foucault and others, and notes with some irritation that commentaries on commentaries have tended to accumulate in the Anglo world Chivallon, ; see also Cusset, Taking this suggestion seriously, I will briefly examine each of these, aiming for a brief panorama of what has actually been done.
Foucault famously stated that space is fundamental in any form of communal life; space is fundamental in any exercise of power see for instance Elden, Raffestin was a driving force of what has been called the post-vidalian critique 25 , endorsing the role of senior theoretician in the linguistic and constructivist turn the discipline took in the Francophone world at the end of the Seventies. Much of his inspiration came from the work of Michel Foucault, Henri Lefebvre, Martin Heidegger and Luis Prieto, bringing a much-needed breadth of references to a discipline pitted by intellectual incest.
He is one rare example of a Francophone geographer active within and not outside the wider sciences humaines. It is in fact not always easy to read Raffestin, as his grand theory of territory and territoriality, as well as his wider writings on the geographical intelligibility of reality, are often put forward more as proposals than polished theories.
Raffestin writes beautifully, making use of a breadth of references and myths. It hides so efficiently specifically because it is present everywhere. It is present in every relation, within every action: it insidiously uses every social fracture to infiltrate into the heart of people. It is ambiguous because there is Power and there is power. But the former is easier to grasp because it manifests itself through complex apparatuses that surround and grasp each territory, control the population and dominate the resources.
It is visible, massive, identifiable power. In consequence it is dangerous and unsettling, but it inspires wariness through the very threat that it represents. But the most dangerous is that which is unseen or that which one no longer sees because it is assumed to be discarded through house arrest. It would be too simple if Power were the Minotaur locked into its labyrinth that Theseus could kill once and for all. But power is reborn worse than it was, when Theseus meets the Minotaur: Power is dead, long live power. Each relation is the place [le lieu ] within which power manifests itself, as energy and information get manipulated: formed, accumulated, combined, and circulated Raffestin, Territory, in his perspective, is a space within which work [travail ] , that is to say energy and information, has been projected and that in consequence is constructed through and reveals power relations Raffestin, His distinction between space pre-existent to any action and territory produced relationally is fundamental, enriched by an analysis of representations and the semiotics of territory that draw on sources as diverse as Ludwig Wittgenstein, Edward Soja and Umberto Eco.
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On one hand, they were too advanced for their readers, handling concepts perceived to be too abstract, too far from usual research fields; on the other they continued to approach politics indirectly, a topic that remains the real blind spot of the geographical Weltanshauung. In that, they gave up creating a political geography based on a clear epistemological and theoretical basis.
However, having said that, a number of links did exist and continue, in particular inserting geographers working in Geneva into networks centred on universities and laboratoires at Grenoble and Pau, in France. Raffestin also has a large following in Italy where he currently spends most of this time.
Nevertheless, being seen as raffestinien ne has sometimes been a dangerous card to play in certain circles, dividing individuals between loyal followers 32 and enemies. It is probably the great lesson left behind by Michel Foucault, and put into perspective by Paul Veyne first for historians but also for all researchers working within the human sciences, even if few within geography have claimed it. He also draws upon both Foucault and Lefebvre in his project of arming social geography and similarly also has a fondness for Heidegger.
Other authors have referred to Foucault referred mostly peripherally, using elements from his work as building blocks within a larger theoretical body based on other sources. It is the global space that has meaning. In fact, in stark contrast to Raffestin, none of these authors have drawn upon Foucault in any fundamental way. At best, he has provided theoretical fodder for thinking about power, discourse and space as part of the required backbone of requisite readings in the social sciences gleaned during individual studies, integrated but not explicitly cited as would be expected within the Anglo tradition , at worst he has been used to suggest little more than research themes such as surveillance or heterotopia.
An invaluable and beautifully organized resource, highly recommended for both students and scholars alike. This is a thoughtful and imaginative undertaking, replete with utile index Martin, emeritus, Southern Connecticut State University ' Dr Jeremy W. Fall; Could Foucault have revolutionized geography?
Crampton; Beyond the Panopticon? Du kanske gillar.
Shakespearean Territories Stuart Elden Inbunden. Lifespan David Sinclair Inbunden. Spara som favorit.
Skickas inom vardagar. Laddas ned direkt. Michel Foucault's work is rich with implications and insights concerning spatiality, and has inspired many geographers and social scientists to develop these ideas in their own research.