Cutting Off Heads A review of Foucault with Marx by Jacques Bidet (2016)

Jacques Bidet’s Foucault with Marx reviewed by Jason Read.

Foucault News

Jason Read, Cutting Off Heads. A review of Foucault with Marx by Jacques Bidet (Zed Books: London, 2016)

Jacques Bidet’s Foucault with Marx represents yet another contribution to the eventual overcoming of an academic skirmish between advocates of Foucault and Marx, itself a smaller conflict in the larger battle of postmodernism versus Marxism. The perspective which saw Marx and Foucault as mutually opposed theoretical camps has begun to fade thanks to both the publication of Foucault’s courses and lectures, most importantly the short essay on “The Mesh of Power,” and the publication of several texts, such as the monumental collection Marx & Foucault: Lectures, usages, confrontations in France. However, the dissipation of Team Foucault and Team Marx is only a first step; it remains to be seen how Foucault and Marx are related and how their different examinations into history, modernity, and society can be brought together through…

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Correcting the record

This may be of interest only to about 2 people, but since one of them is me and I want to be historically accurate, I have to say that there is an error in my latest book, Mapping. There is some interesting background here though, so bear with me!

I said in the book that there is a copy of the “President’s Globe” at Univ. Georgia in Athens, Ga. The President’s globes were made for President Roosevelt by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during WWII. They were 50″ globes, far bigger than normal, that Arthur Robinson and his Map Division in OSS had made. The full story is told here:

Robinson, A. H. (1997) The President’s Globe. Imago Mundi, 49, 143-152.

Robinson mentions that there are about 12 globes that were made (strictly speaking the OSS made the globe gores and a Chicago company made the physical globes). He mentions that UGA has one. Sure enough if you go to the Geography Department at UGA you see this in the lobby:

These two things are what led me to believe that this is a President’s Globe. I now think this is wrong though.

When he was doing his article Robinson must have asked around about big globes and been told there was one at UGA. But the one pictured at least is very different from Roosevelt’s as this image should demonstrate:

Roosevelt with his globe (from Robinson 1997).

The size is obviously all wrong. But not only that but compare the gores from the President’s Globe, here at the Library of Congress.

The map here is much more subtle and doesn’t have raised physiographic relief like the UGA one.

Here’s Africa from the President’s globe and the UGA one again:

So there you have it, just in case somebody wants to write to me about my mistake!

Roosevelt’s geographers define territory

During WWII the US Department of State worked with an outside group of scholars on “post-war foreign policy.” Prominent among these scholars were members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) such as Isaiah Bowman and Hamilton Fish Armstrong. Alger Hiss was also involved who as you may know was later convicted as a Soviet spy in 1950. Bowman had proposed Hiss for American Geographical Society membership and was prepared to testify on his behalf at the trial (see Neil Smith’s book for details).

The Territorial Subcommittee of this secret group was Chaired by Bowman and met weekly from March 1942 through the end of 1943, at which time the State Dept. took more direct control. The official history of this group records the definitions of “territory” that they were using:

The term “territorial” was defined in two sense: first, as land with the people on it. As land, it signaled property, which must be delimited for tax purposes, administration of law, and national defense. Boundaries therefore could not be ignored. They still meant what they always had, only to a lesser degree. Aviation and other modern developments of a military and economic nature had modified the significance but not entirely removed either the security or the economic implications of boundaries. These boundaries afforded, in particular, a reduced but still strategically vital period of military warning.

Second, the word “territorial” was considered to mean the historical and present economic, social, and political forces and activities at work inside any area. The center of emphasis, accordingly, was the individual country and its people, but to understand its problems and conditions one had to see beyond it, always keeping in mind the historical forces at work in and around it. The deliberations of the subcommittee focused in this regard upon the requisite conditions for peace and stability both within and among countries.

I think you can see in these definitions both a typically 20th century take on territory as states or countries, but also an especially geographical-historical one where territories are put into a wider context and not just treated individually. Of course the definitions are problematic because for example who are the “people”? Here the subcommittee took an interesting almost critical epistemological approach:

The subcommittee’s initial question was: “What do we need to know” about the problems ahead?

They soon answered this by collecting data on the “population” in each area but it would be interesting to see them decide what they needed to know.

All quotes are from: US Dept. of State Postwar Foreign Policy Preparation, 1939-1945. Edited by Harley A. Notter, 1949.

Territory and Justice conference

Territory and Justice Conference – Dublin 12-13 July 2010

There has been a real interest in the relation between political theory and territory recently, although what it tends to do is take territory as a relatively straight-forward notion, and then apply debates of justice to it. This was the case in some of the books recently appearing on this topic which I reviewed here. I fear this conference will be similar, though it is surely a good thing that political science and philosophy is thinking about such issues at all.

Papers in Progress

Our opening comments were in part based on articles we wrote separately, that are both appearing in Progress in Human Geography. They are available in the ‘Online First’ section of the website –


Please contact either of us if you can’t access the papers through your own libraries…

Participants and links to abstracts

This is the running order of presenters at the AAG, with links to abstracts. Thanks to all, and to Matt Farish for chairing! I hope to upload the Powerpoints/pdfs (with permission) in the near future.

8:00 AM Author(s): *Jeremy Crampton – Georgia State University, *Stuart Elden – University of Durham
Abstract Title: Territory and Cartography: Setting the Agenda

8:20 AM Author(s): *Nisha Shah – Watson Institute, Brown University/CsGG, LSE
Abstract Title: Metaphors, man and maps: the cartographic production of ‘territory’ as a normative principle

8:40 AM Author(s): *Jouni Häkli – University of Tampere
Abstract Title: Archiving territory, mapping politics

9:00 AM Author(s): *Mark Monmonier – Syracuse University
Abstract Title: Aeronautical Charting and the Production, Reproduction, and Regulation of Airspace by the United States

9:20 AM Author(s): *Richard C. Powell – University of Liverpool
Abstract Title: What is submarine territory? Extending the sovereign rights of the Danish kingdom

10:00 AM Author(s): *Scott Kirsch – University of North Carolina
Abstract Title: The Invention of Territory

10:20 AM Author(s): *John Hessler, Fellow Royal Geographical Society – Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division
Abstract Title: Economic Foundations of Roman Cartography: Bounded Rationality, Territory, and Epigraphy, 100 BC-300 AD

10:40 AM Author(s): *Michael Heffernan – University of Nottingham
Abstract Title: Maps and the City: Paris and the 18th Century Cartographic Imagination

11:00 AM Author(s): *Catherine Dunlop – Yale University
Abstract Title: Borderland Cartography from Below: The Role of Civil Society in Mapping Alsace-Lorraine, 1860-1918

11:20 AM Author(s): *Nessa Cronin, Dr – National University of Ireland, Galway
Abstract Title: The Jurisdiction of the Map: Official and unofficial productions of imperial space in the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, 1824-46

12:40 PM Author(s): *Martin Pratt – International Boundaries Research Unit, Department of Geography, Durham University, UK
Abstract Title: Unreliable Witnesses? Maps as Evidence in Boundary and Sovereignty Disputes

1:00 PM Author(s): *Helga Tawil-Souri, Ph.D. – New York University
Abstract Title: Virtually Mapping Palestinian Dis-/Re-Appearances

1:20 PM Author(s): *Mona Domosh – Dartmouth College
Abstract Title: Corporate cartographies and the making of an American empire

1:40 PM Author(s): *Elena Dell’Agnese – Università Di Milano-Bicocca
Abstract Title: “Manifest Cartography”: US territorial expansion, textbooks and the logo-mapping of the Western hemisphere