Genesis and Construction of the Book

The present volume is partly the product of a conference organized in January 2014 on the theme: Biopolitics, Governmentality, (security) Dispositifs: Concepts for the Study of the Internationa? Originally, this conference was aimed at bringing together two groups of scholars in particular: on the one hand, people like Onuf, Dillon, Shapiro, Jabri and Walker who, starting in the mid-1980s and often drawing on Foucault’s work, had developed a devastating critique of IR, and, on the other, a group of (younger) scholars—Paltrinieri, Taylan, Sibertin-Blanc, Sauvetre—more particularly involved within the French academic field, all (trained as) philosophers, recognized specialists of the work of Michel Foucault. Despite their shared interest in Foucault’s work, these two groups tended to work in “mutual isolation.”6 Many reasons explain this mutual isolation. The working language, on which I shall not comment further here, is certainly one of them. The fact, also, that IR never became institutionalized in France as it did in the

Anglo-American world, where it had gained relative and yet sufficiently strong autonomy within the discipline of political science for some IR scholars to speak about IR as a proper academic discipline. Nothing comparable having occurred in France, the critique of IR did not receive the same attention and could therefore not have the same impact in the broader space of knowledge (l’espace dessavoirs) despite the work of Didier Bigo, Jean-Fran^ois Bayart and a few others around them. Finally, the disciplinary organization of knowledge, and the complex mechanisms by which knowledge became both specialized and compartmentalized, certainly also explain that these scholars have been kept distant from each other for so long: the study of IR being institutionally kept under political science, despite many initiatives to exceed it, while Foucault was kept under philosophy, despite his own intense resistance to this categorization. The ambition of the Paris conference was to initiate the dismantling of these disciplinary walls, and to work toward the emergence of a critical and reflexive knowledge that would constitute the International as an object for thought. The present volume extends this initial effort.

Yet, for this purpose, it was not enough to bring together the “Critical IR scholars” and those known as the foucauldians in France and in the field of Contemporary French Philosophy. To avoid the risk that discussions would eventually reproduce the division between the “practitioners of Foucault” and the exegetes of his work, they needed to melt into a wider group of scholars who would bring about their own uses of Foucault in their respective fields of study: Mitchell Dean, Jean-Fran^ois Bayart, Fabienne Brion, Mariella Pandolfi, Bearice Hibou and Marc Abeles at the conference, later joined in this volume by William Walters, Laurence Mcfalls, Armand Mattelart and Stuart Elden who were brought into the project to pluralize not only the figure of Foucault but also the disciplines within which they had contributed to spread Foucault’s concepts and methods.

 
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