The Birth of Power
Polity Press 2017
New Books in Critical TheoryNew Books in French StudiesNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network November 6, 2017 Dave O'Brien
How did Foucault become a public, political intellectual? In Foucault: The Birth of Power (Polity Press, 2017), Stuart Elden, Professor of Political Theory and Geography at the University of Warwick, follows up his book on Foucault’s Last Decade with research on Foucault’s work from the late 1960s to the middle 1970s. As with Foucault’s work at the time, the book is focused on the emergence of a new understanding of power, alongside detailed engagements with archival materials and the recently published College De France lecture series. The book offers an alternative reading to traditional periodisations of Foucault’s work, suggesting engagements with ancient Greece, ‘repressive’ theories of power, and his public political work, can be rethought to add nuance and depth to current understandings of Foucault’s theories of the ‘productive’ nature of power and the practice of his scholarship. The book is part of Elden’s broader project on Foucault much of which is detailed on his Progressive Geographies blog. The rich and detailed text will be of interest to social theorists, Foucault scholars, and anyone interested in how best to understand the meaning of power.