Key Terms

This page collects key terms as they have been defined and discussed over the years at my various blog sites (mostly Foucault Blog). It started as a post in December 2013 but has since been made into this more prominent page.

When I maintained the Foucault blog (now at Foucault News), I would occasionally post brief explanations of key terms in Foucault (usually in his own words). I thought it might be useful to gather some of them here (not least because I’m slated to teach a Foucault seminar in the spring). The main ones to be found on that blog are:

dispositif (“apparatus”)

conduct of conduct


“The panopticon


milieu/disciplinary spaces/sovereignty, and milieu part 2

Security, Territory, Population course context

Genealogy (as defined by Elden and Vikki Bell)

My brief comments are not meant to be definitive but as aids to further work on these concepts. Nor are they meant to be the “main” concepts in Foucault; they are ones that arose (so far) in the course of working with Foucault and writing a blog at the time (2007-2010). In fact I would say panopticon and heterotopia are a bit over-discussed in the literature.

Since that blog (which was started as an adjunct to the Space, Knowledge and Power book) I’ve discussed Foucault’s notions of “Space, Territory and Geography” in a longer piece in The Companion to Foucault.

In addition to the Companion, I should note that the long-awaited Cambridge Foucault Lexicon is due for publication in March 2014. The full contents of this book are listed here. Stuart Elden does the entry on “Space.” Hopefully this will be available in time for the seminar final papers!  🙂

Jan. 20 2014 “Genealogy”
Feb. 13, 2014 “Dispositif”

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