Michel Foucault and Jean-Pierre Peter – some thoughts on sources of ‘the abnormals’ and the case of Pierre Rivière

Excellent piece by Stuart on the “a veritable rogues’ gallery of murderers, cannibals and perverts” that Foucault discusses in his Abnormals lecture series. He highlights two sources from 1971 and 1972 by Jean-Pierre Peter who discusses some rather gruesome events (cannibalism) in the early 19th century.

This is presumably material Stuart is sharing from his next book on Foucault. Check it out!

Progressive Geographies

In The Abnormals lecture course, Foucault refers to a veritable rogues’ gallery of murderers, cannibals and perverts. The latter term, of course, is one that he examines in terms of its historical emergence – what counts as a deviation, an anomaly, abnormal behaviour? Foucault’s tactic, as with many other inquiries, is to provide the details of a case and then examine the legal, medical and psychiatric reports in the archives that shed light on how it was understood. The case of Pierre Rivière was conducted in a similar way, although in that instance they also had a remarkable first-person memoir and witness accounts. Foucault and his colleagues found this case in the Annales d’hygiène publique et de médecine légale.

For the cases in The Abnormals, it’s sometimes less clear on the sources. Part of this is due to the fact that the notes in the volume are the editors’…

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