Friday, June 21, 2013

Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population (Lectures at the College de France: 1977-1978)

Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population (Lectures at the College de France: 1977-1978)
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Marking a major development in Foucault’s thinking, this book derives from the lecture course which he gave at the Collège de France between January and April, 1978. Taking as his starting point the notion of  “bio-power,” introduced in his 1976 course Society Must be Defended, Foucault sets out to study the foundations of this new technology of power over population. Distinct from punitive, disciplinary systems, the mechanisms of power are here finely entwined with the technologies of security, and it is to 18th century developments of these technologies with which the first chapters of the book are concerned. By the fourth lecture however Foucault’s attention turns, focusing on a history of “governmentality” from the first centuries of the Christian era to the emergence of the modern nation state. These lectures show that the trenchant analysis of biopower, “power over life”, which Foucault had begun in the first volume of the History of Sexuality and which he pursues here in terms of technologies of security, led him to a decisively deeper and more radical formulation of his guiding problematic—what he called “the government of the self and others”—the issue that would serve as the basis for all his subsequent work. Security, Territory and Population might thus properly be called the ‘missing link’ that reveals the underlying unity of Foucault’s later thought.


We tried to show what the problems were that this “police” had to address; the extent to which the role it was assigned was different from the role that is later given to the institution of the police; and what was expected of it in ensuring the state’s growth in terms of two objectives: to enable it to stake out and improve its position in the game of rivalries and competition between European states, and to guarantee internal order through the “welfare” of individuals. Development of the state of (military-economic) competition, and development of the Wohlfahrt state (of wealth-tranquility-happiness): these are the two principles that “police” as a rational art of government must be able to coordinate. At this time “police” was conceived of as a sort [of] “technology of state forces.”
—Translated by Graham Burchell

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