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Foucault's Futures


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments List of Abbreviations Introduction 1. Suspensions of Sex: Foucault and Derrida 2. Reproductive Futurism, Lee Edelman, and Reproductive Rights 3. Foucault's Children: Re-Reading The History of Sexuality 4. Immunity, Bare Life, and the Thanatopolitics of Reproduction: Foucault, Esposito, Agamben 5. Judith Butler, Precarious Life, and Reproduction: From Social Ontology to Ontological Tact Notes Index

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In Foucault's Futures, Penelope Deutscher reconsiders the role of procreation in Foucault's thought, especially its proximity to risk, mortality, and death. She brings together his work on sexuality and biopolitics to provide new insights into the conflicted political status of reproductive conduct and what it means for feminism and critical theory.

About the Author

Penelope Deutscher is Joan and Sarepta Harrison Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University. She is the author or editor of a number of books, including Foucault/Derrida Fifty Years Later (2016) and Critical Theory in Critical Times: Transforming the Global Political and Economic Order (2017), both from Columbia University Press.


Foucault's Futures opens up a new future for Foucault by showing how profoundly, and how unexpectedly, his account of biopolitical power informs the procreative politics implicit in his various writings on sex. Combining theoretical rigor with intellectual generosity, Penelope Deutscher proposes and enacts a critical ethics that mobilizes the "suspended reserves" of Foucault (and many other theorists) to generate striking conceptual convergences that make for a brilliantly productive critique of reproductive reason. -- Lee Edelman, Fletcher Professor of English Literature, Tufts University Foucault's Futures teaches us to read, with generosity and curiosity, for the limits that enable contemporary work on reproductive biopolitics. With impeccable intellectual skill, Deutscher maps the illegibilities, resistances, inclusions, violences, gatherings and vulnerabilities that form the infrastructure of reproductive futurism, maternal bodies, and fetal life. This is feminist theory at its finest: an accomplished and exquisitely argued book that expands the conceptual space within which feminism can engage text and world. -- Elizabeth A. Wilson, Emory University The book is unique not only for the originality of its complex philosophical argument about life, children, and maternity in biopower but also for the interdisciplinary range of works it thinks together in surprising new ways. -- Lynne Huffer, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University This strikingly imaginative book brings Foucault into dialogue with unexpected interlocutors and explores fascinating themes and figures in his thought - fetuses, viruses and marsupial mothers. Deutscher's ideas never fail to interest and provoke. -- Johanna Oksala, University of Helsinki Foucault's Futures, the latest of Penelope Deutscher's many pathbreaking works, not only challenges us to rethink what we know about recent French thought, feminism, queer studies, biopolitics, the very question of futurity. It also shows us how to work with the peculiar "resources" of debates that do not give us what we seem to want from them. Capacious in its breadth, riveting in its prose, surprising in its arguments and choice of examples, Foucault's Futures is itself the resource we will turn to frequently for help in imagining futures for theory. -- Andrew Parker, author of The Theorist's Mother Deutscher has an enticing facility with her material, and illuminates previously neglected texts. When you read Foucault's Futures, you become wholly aware of the brilliant mind at work weaving together disparate material eloquently and forcefully. Pedagogically brilliant and conceptually surprising, this is a deeply pleasurable and innovative book that allows us to see all its characters in a new light. -- Ranjana Khanna, Duke University In Foucault's Futures, Penny Deutscher stages a series of perverse encounters-between Foucault and Derrida, between reproductive futurism and feminism, between Judith Butler and the biopolitical-carefully interrogating some of contemporary critical theory's most fertile missed opportunities. Through her surprising juxtapositions and her slyly brilliant readings, Deutscher unlocks the "suspended resources of Foucault's work" for thinking the mother, the child, and the family thanopolitically, and offers a fresh and original consideration of the logics and politics of reproduction. Essential reading. -- Gayle Salamon, Princeton University

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