Foucault on anthropology, and the festival of the mad

I’ve just come back from a visit to the Centre for the Philosophy of Science at the University of Lisbon, where I gave two talks. The first was on Foucault’s reading of the Oedipus story in Lectures on the Will to Know, and the second was the paper on Lucretius, Smolin, and Serres (on causality and law) that I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog (see Professional Activities). But while I was there, I met up with Elisabetta Basso, who told me that in the Foucault archives there is material from a very early course that Foucault taught on the history of anthropology – 1952, I think. I didn’t know this, but how very interesting!

Elisabetta was also kind enough to give me a copy of a book she has recently published with Jean-Francois Bert: Foucault a Munsterlingen: A l’origine de l’histoire de la folie. It’s a fascinating, and beautifully illustrated, account of a visit Foucault made to a psychiatric hospital in Munsterlingen, in the company of Jacqueline Verdeaux, and at the invitation of Roland Kuhn. It just so happened that the visit took place at the time of a remarkable festival of the mad, strikingly captured in photographs taken by Verdeaux.

I’ll say a bit more about this when I’ve had an opportunity to look at it more carefully.





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