Monday, 28 January 2013

First time with Foucault

Into the second term of my first year, and the module I'm teaching on is focusing now on contemporary theory. It's been enjoyable going back to basics on Foucault. I still remember the first time I was introduced to Foucault. It was probably the single most memorable moment of my studies as an undergraduate, and I hope to encourage my lot to recognise his valuable insights. Although it isn't core reading, I've requested that my groups look at the final chapter of the first volume of History of Sexuality and this week is shaped around biocapital, a recent rearticulation of specifically Foucauldian notions of the body as a site of regulation and (self)control.

This week, we'll be interrogating the various ways in which we are regulated and measured. In Britain, I often find myself driving down roads amazed at the amount of time spent regulating speeds, painting chevrons onto roads, installing crumpling roadsigns that won't kill us if we crash in them. Why are we forced to drive at 30mph in residential areas. Why do our governments want to keep us safe? Is it paranoia to assume there's a motive behind the seeming beneficence of highway maintenance? Does the government want to regulate our speeds to regulate our bodies? Why?

I wouldn't mind some fresh ideas about the ways in which our bodies are being regulated. I'll show these videos to illustrate the key point that regulation for foucault was specifically somatic. I hope that it will stimulate some discussion. With a few students from other countries, we might even get some international comparisons...

We'll move on to a discussion of biocapital after this, where I'll probably show another video and we'll discuss the ethical, political and economic tensions that might be at play in the contemporary bioeconomies.