Two lectures by Foucault in 1976

Foucault, Michel 1980. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977. Edited by Colin Gordon. New York: Pantheon Books.

Ch. 5. "Two lectures", Pp. 78-108.
I have sketched a history of sexuality or at least a history of knowledge of sexuality on the basis of... (Foucault 1980: 78)
This is very similar to what I'm doing: I'm not sketching history of body language, for such a thing would be impossible; I'm in actuality sketching the history of knowledge of nonverbal communication.
Still, I could claim that after all these were only trails to be followed, it mattered little where they led; indeed, it was important that they did not have a predetermined starting point and destination. They were merely lines laid down for you to pursue or to divert elsewhere, for me to extend upon or re-design as the case might be. They are, in the final analysis, just fragments, and it is up to you or me to see what we can make of them. For my part, it has struck me that I might have seemed a bit like a whale that leaps to the surface of the water disturbing it momentarily with a tiny jet of spray and lets it to believe, or pretends to believe, or wants to believe, or himself does in fact indeed believe, that down in the depths where no one sees him any more, where he is no longer witnessed nor controlled by anyone, he follows a more profound, coherent and reasoned trajectory. (Foucault 1980: 78-79)
Foucault talks about inconclusive, diffuse, repetitive, fragmented etc. character of his work because there were only trails to be followed and it didn't matter where they led. To put it in words he muttered in another lecture: since he posed questions that could not be answered, it was more interesting to examine the questions themselves.
I would say, then, that what has emerged in the course of the last ten or fifteen years is a sense of the increasing vulnerability to criticism of things, institutions, practices, discourses. A certain fragility has been discovered in the very bedrock of existence - even, and perhaps above all, in those aspects of it that are most familiar, most solid and most intimately related to our bodies and to our everyday behaviour. (Foucault 1980: 80)
This is why I think Foucault must be payed attention in reference to theories of everyday behavior.
By subjugated knowledges I mean two things: on the one hand, I am referring to the historical contents that have been buried and disguised in a functionalist coherence or formal systematisation. Concretely, it is not a semiology of the life of the asylum, it is not even a sociology of delinquency, that had made it possible to produce an effective criticism of the asylum and likewise of the prison, but rather the immediate emergence of historical contents. And this is simply because only the historical content allows us to rediscover the ruptural effects of conflict and struggle that the order imposed by functionalist or systematising thought is designed to mask. Subjugated knowledges are thus those blocs of historical knowledge which were present but disguised within the body of functionalist and systematising theory and which criticism - which obviously draws upon scholarship - has been able to reveal. (Foucault 1980: 81-82)
Subjugated knowledge is firstly HISTORICAL CONTENTS that have been buried and disguised in formal systems of thought (disciplines like semiology and sociology).
On the other hand, I believe that by subjugated knowledges one should understand different, namely, a whole set of knowledges that have been disqualified as inadequate to their task or insufficiently elaborated: naive knowledges, located low down on the hierarchy, beneath the required level of cogntiion or scientificity. I also believe that it is through the re-emergence of these low-ranking knowledges, these unqualified, even directly disqualified knowledges (such as that of the psychiatric patient, of the ill person, or the nurse, of the doctor - parallel and margianl as they are to the knowledge of medicine - that of the delinquent etc.), and which involve what I would call a popular knowledge (le savoir des gens) though it is far from being a general commonsense knowledge, but is on the contrary a particular, local, regional knowledge, a differential knowledge incapable of unanimity and which owes its force only to the harshness with which it is opposed by everything surrounding it - that it is through the re-appearance of this knowledge, of these local popular knowledges, these disqualified knowledges, that criticism performs its work. (Foucault 1980: 82)
Subjugated knowledge is also DIFFERENT KNOWLEDGE - disqualified as inadequate, insufficiently elaborated, naive, low-ranking, etc. Popular knowledge is particular, local, regional etc. It is through popular knowledge that criticism performs its work.
In the two cases - in the case of the erudite as in that of the disqualified knowledges - with what in fact were these buried, subjugated knowledges really concerned? They were concerned with a historical knowledge of struggles. In the specialised areas of erudition as in the disqualified, popular knowledge there lay the memory of hostile encounters which even up to this day have been confined t the margins of knowledge.
What emerges out of this is something one might call a genealogy, or rather a multiplicity of genealogical researches, a painstaking rediscovery of struggles together with the rude memory of their conflicts. And these genealogies, that are the combined product of an erudite knowledge and a popular knowledge, were not possible and could not even have been attempted except on one condition, namely that the tyranny of globalisign discourses with their hierarchy and all their privileges of a theoretical avant-garde was eliminated. (Foucault 1980: 83)
This actually makes sense in the case of semiotics - e.g. the definition of semiotics has mutated throughout the decades and at every point there awaits a rediscovery of a conflict - between different schools of philosophy, between different schools of linguists, between different fields of research, all trying either to grab hold of semiotics as it's own or to dismiss it somehow. The notion of semiotics being "a developed science of communication" or "science of nonverbal communication" is a point in case - this is not how it is thought of today.
What is [genealogu] really does it to entertain the claims to attention of local, discontinuous, disqualified, illegitimate knowledges against the claims of a unitary body of theory which would filter, hierarchise and order them in the name of some true knowledge and some arbitrary idea of what constitutes a science and its objects. Geneologies are therefore not positivistic returns to a more careful or exact form of science. They are precisely anti-sciences. (Foucault 1980: 83)
The genealogical approach would probably embellish Ouspensky's mysticism with reference to modern psychology.
And if we want to protect these only lately liberated fragments are we not in danger of ourselves constructing, with out own hands, that unitary discourse to which we are invited, perhaps to lure us into a trap, by those who say to us: 'All this is fine, but where are you heading? What kind of unity are you after?' The temptation, up to a certain point, is to reply: 'Well, we just go on, in a cumulative fashion; after all, the moment at which we risk colonisation has not yet arrived'. (Foucault 1980: 86)
I've met this question myself when one of my colleagues read the draft of my seminar paper. He inquired what I was trying to achieve with it, and I had no answer, because it is still an open question - indeed, I do not know what will be the outcome of my research.
...we have at our disposal another assertion to the effect that power is not primarily the maintenance and reproduction of economic relations, but is above all a relation of force. The question to be posed would be these: if power is exercised, what sort of exercise does it involve? In what does it consist? What is its mechanism? (Foucault 1980: 89)
I believe I am able to answer this with the help of Goffman's theory of face-work: that it is the force exercised to maintain an expressive order. But this I will have to investigate later in my thesis.
Furthermore, if it is true that political power puts an end to war, that it installs, or tries to install, the reign of peace in society, this by no means implies that it suspends the effects of war or neutralises the disequlibrium revealed in the final battle. The role of political power, on this hypothesis, is perpetually to re-inscribe this relation through a form of unspoken warfare; to re-inscribe it in social institutions, in economic inequalities, in language, in the bodies themselves of each and everyone of us. (Foucault 1980: 90)
Another point for the power of the expressive order. Maintaining a face is a form of unspoken warfare; it indeed does involve cooperating with allies (team-mates) and attacking (the faces of) opponents.
Its paramount concern, in fact, should be with the point where power surmounts the rules of right which organise and delimit it and extends itself beyond them, invests itself in institutions, becomes embodied in techniques, and equips itself with instruments and eventually even violent means of material intervention. (Foucault 1980: 96)
The conjunction point of Mauss and Foucault.
Let us not, therefore, ask why certain people want to dominate, what they seek, what is their overall strategy. Let us ask, instead, how things work at the level of on-going subjugation, at the level of those continuous and uninterrupted processes which subject our bodies, govern our gestures, dictate our behaviours etc. (Foucault 1980: 97)
Foucault is here urging us to look at the "material constitution" of the exercise of power.
Power must be analysed as something which circulates, or rather as soemthing which only functions in the form of a chain. It is never localised here or there, never in anybody's hands, never appropriated as a commodity or piece of wealth. Power is employed and exercised through a net-like organisation. And not only do individuals circulate between its threads; they are always in the position of simultaneously undergoing and exercising this power. They are not only its inert or consenting target; they are always also the elements of its articulation. In other words, individuals are the vehicles of power, not its point of application.
The individual is not to be conceived as a sort of elementary nucleus, a primitive atom, a multiple and inert material on which power comes to fasten or against which it happens to strike, and in so doing subdues or crushes individuals. In fact, it is already one of the prime effects of power that certain bodies, certain gestures, certain discourses, certain desires, come to be identified and constituted as individuals. The individual, that is, is not the vis-á-vis of power; it is, I believe, one of its prime effects. The individual is an effect of power, and at the same time, or precisely to the extent to which it is that effect, it is the element of its articulation. The individual which power has constituted is at the same time its vehicle. (Foucault 1980: 98)
Aww, that is good. I need to find a practical application for this contention.


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