Foucault and urban philosophy

Authored by: Kevin Scott Jobe

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of the City

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138928787
eBook ISBN: 9781315681597
Adobe ISBN:


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It is difficult to overstate the influence of Michel Foucault’s work since the 1960s on fields from sociology, geography, and social history to those of architectural theory, social work, surveillance studies, carceral studies, and “governmentality” studies. Despite the breadth of this influence, Foucault has not traditionally been thought of as a philosopher of the city or of “the urban.” This is due to several reasons. First, the recent publication of Michel Foucault’s lecture courses given at the College de France from 1970–1984 have opened up an explosive array of material that has shed light on the depth and complexity of the investigations Foucault was undertaking throughout this period that were parallel to his published books. Second, scholars of Foucault examining more recently published material from 1970 to his death in 1984 have sought to reevaluate Foucault’s status as a philosopher of urban geographies through what some have called “spatial governmentality.” In what follows, I attempt to summarize the most significant aspects, insights, and criticisms of this “geo-governmentality” school that indelibly bears the mark of Michel Foucault, including criticisms from the perspective of international relations, political theory, and the Global South.

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