Foucault and the Spatialization of Power

author: Sven-Olov Wallenstein, School of Culture and Education, Södertörn University
published: Oct. 20, 2017,   recorded: September 2017,   views: 907

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The lecture will attempt to bring together Foucault’s many and varied – sometimes even contradictory – statements about architecture into a systematic account of how power relations are spatialized. Important here will be to avoid a unilateral reading that focuses uniquely on forms of enclosure, incarceration, and discipline, and instead highlight that all spatialization also entails modes of resistance and possibilities for counter-movements, i.e. forms of subjectivity that, while conditioned by external forces, can never be reduced to them. Here, the interpretation of Foucault provided by Deleuze will be crucial, which will also, as I will suggest, show that many of the current interpretations of Deleuze in architectural theory are misleading.

The contribution of Wallenstein’s presentation to 'critical theory', then, will be a rethinking of how works of architecture are unavoidably implicated in structures of power, but that this on another level always calls forth ways of inhabiting and using them that bring out their latent tension – all of which may be understood as a twist on Adorno’s claim that works interiorize social contradictions as contradiction in their own form.

Sven-Olov Wallenstein is Professor of Philosophy at Södertörn University, Stockholm. His recent publications include Architecture, Critique, Ideology: Writings on Architecture and Theory (2016), Foucault, Biopolitics, and Governmentality (co-editor, 2013), Nihilism, Art, Technology (2011), Swedish Modernism: Architecture, Consumption and the Welfare State (co-editor, 2010), Biopolitics and the Emergence of Modern Architecture (2009). He is currently completing Swedish translations of Adorno’s Negative Dialektik and Ästhetische Theorie, together with a book on Adorno. Wallenstein has translated works by Baumgarten, Winckelmann, Lessing, Kant, Hegel, Frege, Husserl, Heidegger, Levinas, Derrida, Deleuze, Foucault, Rancière, and Agamben, and has authored numerous books on philosophy, contemporary art, and architecture.

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