Andrew Cantarutti – Hist 400-02
“Instead of ruling over a territory and its inhabitants, the object of modern
forms of government is a population: an object of statistical analysis and
scientific knowledge with its own intrinsic regularities.” P. 82
“[Governmentality] is exercised through administrative institutions, forms of
knowledge as well as explicit tactics and strategies.” P. 83
Two main features of governmental rationality: centralization of political
power, and individualizing power (pastoral power).
Shifts focus on disciplinary power from repressive institutions to
“Because government refers to strategic, regulated and rationalized modes of
power that have to be legitimized through forms of knowledge and specific
truth claims, the idea of critique as a form of resistance now becomes
crucial.” P. 85
The “politics of truth” becomes an important mode of justification for
“Resistance is therefore not a blind spot in practices of power, but is
rather an important aspect of the practices of knowledge that form the
level of justification for power relations.” P. 86
Foucault opposed to universalistic discourse of Enlightenment emancipation
– no inherent human nature that justified these claims.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT – Foucault Interview:
Interview conducted by Paul Rabinow, a professor of Anthropology at
He was both Foucault’s friend and editor.
Interview published in Skyline magazine in 1982. By 1980, Foucault was a visiting teacher at Berkeley. Concept of biopower
already formulated in 1979, but was now leaving his “genealogical” phase
and entering hermeneutics/ethics.
Habermas, among others, had begun to criticize Foucault. Habermas
entertained universal, generalizing ideas while Foucault rejected them. Often,
their differences came down to problems of definition.
The 1950s/60s saw the rise of modernist architecture in Europe, represented
by architects such as Le Corbusier in France. They believed that architecture
could be used to directly improve the of various oppressed peoples (working
class, colonial populations, etc.)
Discourse about architecture’s liberating potential is important to
Foucault’s response. He considers rationality and whether or not
architecture could liberate or oppress at all.
Architecture becomes a reflection on the aims and techniques of
governments in the 18 century.
Only then did architecture become a staple in discussions about
“politics as the art of the government of men.” P. 240
Cities became models for governmental rationality that could be
applied to the whole of the territory.
Police function to apply a set of regulations that would ensure the
“tranquility of the city.” P. 241
Police as “program of government rationality.” Ibid
Railroads as example of relations of space and power. They provoked
resistance, transformed populations, and changed people’s behaviours.
According to Foucault, architecture cannot be inherently liberating or
oppressing. These two things emerge as a function of resistance or
interaction between people and the space they occupy.
Le Corbusier and the Familistère are examples whereby the architects’
intentions were not met by the practice of people within those spaces. The bathhouse recognized sexuality as a social pleasure. Their removal
placed this same role on the brothels, but the brothels’ sociality wasn’t public,
and was less acceptable.
Spacialization of knowledge – classifications of Linnaeus, anatomy, racial
Techne – “a practical rationality governed by a conscious goal.” P. 255
Census-making is central to defining a population – outlining racial criteria in
the formation of “racial government.”
“Statistics are an integral part of the technology of power in a modern state.”
“Official statistics do not merely hold a mirror to reality. They reflect
presupposition sand theories about the nature of society. They are products
of social, political and economic interests that are often in conflict with each
other.” P. 29
Racial government depends on dividing practices – separation of population
into distinct groups using “racial criteria.” Censuses acted as tools towards
Batman’s purchase of land was in question because the “savage tribes”
couldn’t have had the land rights to begin with – treaty of enfeoffment with
local aboriginal chiefs. Terra Nullius
First census at Port Philip in 1836 – 77 persons became residents.