“Each Punishment Should Be a Fable”: Punitive Analytics, The Punitive-City Diagram, and Punishment as Technology of Power in Foucault’s Works of the 1970s and 1980s
AbstractMichel Foucault’s Punitive Society lectures make clear that, for him, punishment presents a critical problem. On the one hand, Foucault struggles to develop a conceptual vocabulary adequate to punishment, and particularly to the prison-form as a penal development. On the other hand, the Punitive Society lectures clearly indicate the stakes of punishment. How, Foucault asks, might punishment focalize relations of power? How might it serve as a field of struggle? What does a punitive technology of power look like, if it exists? Indeed, across numerous works from the 1970s and 1980s, Foucault traces the varying place of penalties within penal and punitive tactics, showing how punishment reciprocates historical relations of power and problems of power. Yet it remains necessary to develop Foucault’s account of punishment, which is never formalized. In this paper, I develop punishment as a polyvalent technology. Foucauldian punishment may be an analytic, a technology, and—in the allegorical “punitive city” from Discipline and Punish—a diagram of power. I argue that Foucauldian punitive power seizes the body in the name of an authority or a reified power to subordinate individuals to that authority, and with an objective to correct the individual’s relation to a multiplicity. It operates “above,” at the level of, and in “fragments” of embodied individuals. Further, with Foucault’s account of the “punitive city,” we find a theoretical model in whichpunishment becomes the ordering force of the social, and therein a diagram of punitive power exerted in extensive form across the social field.
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