I have just had a paper published in a new two volume collection entitled Engaging Foucault, a collection which emerged due to the work of the organisers of the Engaging Foucault conference which took place at the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory in Belgrade (December 2014).
The full reference for the paper follows, as well the abstract and a download link to the paper:
Heaney, Conor, ‘The Academic, Ethics and Power’, Engaging Foucault: Volume I, ed. by by Adriana Zaharijevic, Igor Cvejić and Mark Losoncz (Belgrade: Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, 2016), pp. 185-201
What relationship does, or can, the academic have to herself, today? To what extent can one’s relationship to one self be stylised as a site of resistance in the contemporary university? In this paper, I seek to begin to respond to these questions. I do so, first, through a connective reading of Michel Foucault’s work on (neoliberal) governmentality and his later work on the care of the self. Whilst such a connection was drawn explicitly on a number of occasions by Foucault in lectures and interviews, it is understated in the Foucauldian literature, and at times distinguished by researchers working either on governmentality studies or on his ‘care of the self’. Whilst I do not reject the importance of singular focus in either of these fields, I nonetheless feel that work at their intersection can be fruitful.
More specifically, in this connective reading, I argue that the academic, today – and my focus for this paper’s purposes will be, admittedly, UK-centric - is incentivised to internalise the principles of, and self-govern according to, neoliberal governmentality. Through such self-government, the academic’s everyday practice of ‘knowledge production’, ‘skill transfer’, et cetera, is today in the service of neoliberal governmentality. I cite two examples on this: academic writing and practices of networking. Pivoting on these two examples, I will then suggest and defend two practices of resistance available to the academic today under neoliberal governmentality: writing (again) and friendship. I argue that writing and friendship open up the possibility of resistive and transformational practices of subjectivation.