We are excited to announce the publication this month of our guide to one of the great theoretical and historical books of the twentieth century. Anne Schwan and Stephen Shapiro take us through Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish and along the way challenge a number of common misconceptions about the book and Foucault’s theories more generally. One such misconception is Foucault’s supposed opposition to Marx. Schwan and Shapiro write, “Marx is one of the most favourably cited authorities in Discipline and Punish, and Foucault implicitly and explicitly draws on Marx’s arguments in Capital to help explain the logic of historical change.”
Foucault’s writings are vital for anyone who wants to understand how power operates. As Foucault put it in his famous debate with Noam Chomsky in 1971:
The real political task in a society such as ours, is to criticise the workings of institutions that appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticise and attack them in such a manner that the political violence that has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them.
You can watch an extract from the debate here:
Pluto’s other titles this month provide new insights, challenge common assumptions and unearth hidden histories. In the Political Economy of NGOs Jude L. Fernando punctures the saintly aura surrounding NGOs through a critical account of their alliance with capitalism and the state in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Saadia Toor’s The State of Islam rescues Pakistan from its designation as simply a ‘hotbed of extremism’. She reveals the importance of liberal and left movements to the country’s history and how such forces can emerge again today. In In Foreign Fields Thomas F. Carter provides a fascinating ethnographic study, based on twelve years of research in three continents, into the lives of sporting professionals. Whilst the media focus on millionaire sport celebrities, Carter looks at the challenges faced by ‘transnational sport migrants’ – the majority of sporting men and women who toil far away from the limelight.
Anne Schwan and Stephen Shapiro
An accessible step-by-step introduction to Foucault’s hugely influential text. Part of the ‘How to Read Theory’ series.
“This is a useful and illuminating companion to Foucault’s book, and will clarify much that remains puzzling about this proteiform thinker, dispelling misunderstandings and sending the reader on new and more fruitful paths” – Fredric Jameson, William A. Lane Jr. Professor of Comparative Literature at Duke University
“[A] highly readable guide to one of Foucault’s best-known but often misinterpreted works. … This book will be of great assistance to students and others looking for a clear introduction to Discipline and Punish and for pointers on its theoretical contexts.” – Clare O’Farrell, author of Michel Foucault (2005) and founding editor of Foucault Studies
State Formation in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh
Jude L. Fernando
Explores the relationship between NGOs and capitalism, showing that supposedly progressive NGOs often promote the same policies as governments.
“At last, we have a theoretically-informed and historically grounded account of one of the defining features of the contemporary world – the rise of non-governmental organisations. This book is a much-needed political economy of NGOs and development in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka that perfectly combines conceptual sophistication with careful empirical analysis, anchoring its understanding of NGOs firmly to the forces of capitalist development and the neo-liberal restructuring of the state.” – David Lewis, Professor of Social Policy and Development, London School of Economics & Political Science
“Jude Fernando’s notable achievement here is to push us to be a lot more nuanced when we join in the intense debate about the value of non-governmental organizations. His grittily detailed and sophisticated comparison of myriad NGOs in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka makes us all smarter as we try to figure out under exactly what conditions NGO activities undermine or contribute to genuine democratization anywhere. This is a fine and timely book.” – Cynthia Enloe, author of Nimo’s War, Emma’s War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War
Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan
Studies Pakistan through the lens of the Cold War and the War on Terror and sheds light on the processes behind the rise of militant Islam.
“”A deeply informed study of Pakistan’s unfinished journey, marked by the historical suppression of its vibrant Left, Toor’s book is part of the current re-emergence of a foundation for progressive politics in Pakistan. … Read it, argue over it, and be part of the journey to renew Pakistan.”
“Saadia Toor reveals a country that is nothing like the hotbed of Islamic extremism and military dictatorship we read about constantly. … This book is a powerful antidote to reactionary stereotypes of Pakistan that dominate academic research and popular media.” – David Ludden, Professor of History, New York University, author of India and South Asia: A Short History
The Politics and Experiences of Transnational Sport Migration
Thomas F. Carter
Examines the lives of transnational sport migrants: players, journalists, coaches and administrators who toil far away from the sporting limelight.
“This is a remarkable book. Carter explodes facile assumptions about the mobility of sports players across playing fields and national boundaries. Combining vivid prose with shrewd analysis, he follows the lives and labour of both elite and lesser-known players. In doing so, he remakes the social scientific study of globalizing sport, while challenging its scandalous neglect in the discipline of anthropology.” – Simon Coleman, Chancellor Jackman Chaired Professor, University of Toronto, and co-editor of The Discipline of Leisure
“Based on more than a decade of ethnographic research in a wide variety of locations, this book make an enormous contribution to the anthropological study of sport and also to the social scientific understanding of sport more generally. In addition to vividly describing and forensically examining the lives of sport migrants as they ply their trade in ‘foreign fields’, Thomas Carter convincingly attacks his fellow anthropologists for their relative failure to appreciate the socio-cultural significance of sport. Even if they now take heed, however, Carter will remain their master for many years to come.” – Alan Bairner, Professor of Sport and Social Theory at Loughborough University, author of Sport, Nationalism, and Globalization (2001)