bibliografia sobre Foucault


Gavin Kendall & Gary Wickham (1999), Using Foucault's Methods, Sage, London.

— Well, this sounded like a bad idea, didn't it? Using Foucault's Methods? As if Foucault set out a set of methods which you could splash over society and culture to enlightening effect? I'm all for making things accessible, but transforming Foucault into a methodological handbook sounded like going way too far.

It's always nice to be proved wrong, of course. This may not be the best stand-alone introduction to Foucault, but as a companion to Foucault's original texts, carefully showing what he's done and why -- and how that could be applied elsewhere -- it's outstanding. The authors themselves acknowledge that you can't just simply transpose bits of Foucault to other areas of contemporary life -- indeed, they make fun of people who 'glue' Foucault soundbytes on to their cultural analyses. They even courageously criticise people like Stuart Hall, for paying lip service to Foucault but then slapping simplistic (and more traditional) power analyses onto sections of history without Foucault's degree of caution.

The style of Using Foucault's Methods is light and readable, but it's also a very intelligent, well-grounded book, based on a more thorough understanding of what Foucault was about than is often seen elsewhere, urging carefulness in theory whilst jumping brilliantly around various examples. It's not boring, but it's not naff either, and that's a triumph in itself.

They say some interesting things that I'd not seen before -- for example, they suggest that English-speaking people often misunderstand what Foucault meant by 'power', and that we're better off seeing it as analogous to the weaker idea of power in machines -- a process that keeps things going -- rather than the idea of power as strength.

At the same time, this relates to the one problem I had with this book, which is that its sensible promotion of cautiousness in using Foucault's approaches sometimes looks like the reader is being counselled to avoid political applications altogether. "The task of analysts, such as you and us, is to describe the way in which resistance operates as a part of power, not to seek to promote or oppose it", they warn (p. 51). Oh. I don't think David Halperin (see review of Saint Foucault, below), amongst others, would be too chuffed to be told off like this.

Nevertheless this is a very impressive, readable, intelligent book, and one of the best short companions to studying Foucault that there is.

Clare O'Farrell (1997), Foucault: The Legacy, Queensland University of Technology, Australia.

— Edited by the delightfully interesting and energetic Clare O'Farrell, Foucault's Legacy brings together 73 (count 'em!) articles which link Foucault with everything from art and architecture to management and public relations!

We have a separate page about this book, where you can read more about it.