The article investigates Foucault’s late thought and the resources it provides for contemporary politics. The aim is threefold: I will show (i) that Foucault’s analysis of neoliberalism in the lecture series The Birth of Biopolitics should be recognized as part of his overarching critical project, which he called, in his late writings, a critical ontology of ourselves. The analysis of neoliberal governmentality should be read as a historical study of “the limits imposed on us.” My second aim (ii), however, is to show that we can also find resources from his late thought for an experiment with the possibility of going beyond such limits. I will focus on Foucault’s notion of political spirituality and suggest that it signals an important shift from the critical project of denaturalization and historicization to the more constructive task of political imagination. My third aim (iii) is to move beyond the bounds of Foucault scholarship and demonstrate the continuing relevance of his philosophical ideas for our attempts to think through some of our most pressing contemporary political challenges, particularly the climate emergency.
Beyond Neoliberal Realism: Foucault’s Late Politics
Johanna Oksala is Arthur J. Schmitt Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago. Her areas of expertise are political philosophy, feminist philosophy, environmental philosophy, Foucault, and phenomenology. Her books include Foucault on Freedom (2005), How to Read Foucault (2007), Foucault Politics, and Violence (2012), Political Philosophy: All That Matters (2013), and Feminist Experiences (2016). Her new book, Feminism, Capitalism, and Ecology, will be published in 2023.
Johanna Oksala; Beyond Neoliberal Realism: Foucault’s Late Politics. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2022; 121 (4): 655–673. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-10066371
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