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Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Postcolonial History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444334982.2016.x


Between January and April 1978, Michel Foucault delivered a series of lectures at the Collège de France (published in English in 2009 as Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977–78) – which were to mark a major shift in his thinking toward a theory of governmentality. Colin Gordon cautions against the “foolhardy” project of attempting to accurately summarize and articulate Foucault's lectures as they are essentially “a zone of research, not a fully formed product” (1991, 2). In his lecture on governmentality, delivered on February 1, 1978, Foucault explored the process through which the concept emerged out of sixteenth-century anti-Machiavellian thought, but was not, as a mode of power, put into practice until the eighteenth century. According to Foucault, the enactment of a governmental system at this particular historical moment coincided with “the emergence of the problem of population” (2009, 104). Instead of power over a territory emanating from a sovereign body, Foucault proposed that power shifted focus to the management of populations. This is not to say that traditional models of sovereign power were completely displaced by this new art of government, but just that it became one of many tactics used to exert control. In Foucauldian theory, government concerns not only government of the state but also government of the family and government ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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