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About Stuart Elden
I have a blog at www.progressivegeographies.com
My latest books are Shakespearean Territories (University of Chicago Press, 2018) and Canguilhem (Polity, 2019). I am currently working on the very early Foucault of the 1950s, as the next of my sequence of books on Foucault for Polity. I continue to work on territory, especially as to how it relates to terrain and the geophysical more generally. When I'm not writing I enjoy cycling, watching cricket, theatre and music.
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For almost forty years, German enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant gave lectures on geography, more than almost any other subject. Kant believed that geography and anthropology together provided knowledge of the world, an empirical ground for his thought. Above all, he thought that knowledge of the world was indispensable to the development of an informed cosmopolitan citizenry that would be self-ruling. While these lectures have received very little attention compared to his work on other subjects, they are an indispensable source of material and insight for understanding his work, specifically his thinking and contributions to anthropology, race theory, space and time, history, the environment and the emergence of a mature public. This indispensable volume brings together world-renowned scholars of geography, philosophy and related disciplines to offer a broad discussion of the importance of Kant’s work on this topic for contemporary philosophical and geographical work.
“…a timely collection of eighteen essays woven into a coherent matrix by the two editors Stuart Elden and Eduardo Mendieta. A splendid job, by its nature an inherently interdisciplinary endeavour, at the same time a window to the past and a gate-opener to the future.” —Geografiska Annaler
“One of the great strengths of Reading Kant’s Geography is that it brings together geographers and philosophers to engage with the nexus between Kant and geography.” — Journal of Historical Geography
“A moment of Kantian enlightenment! In a splendid, interdisciplinary set of interrogations, the nature and significance of Immanuel Kant’s geography is brought into full light for the very first time. This remarkable work of retrieval thus enlightens, at once, Kant’s own Enlightenment project, and geography’s place in the project of Enlightenment. Whether dealing with racial geography, philosophical topography, or cosmopolitan politics, Reading Kant’s Geography constantly illuminates and instructs. If, as is sometimes said, geography is too important to be left to geographers, it’s no less true that it’s too important to be left to philosophers.” — David N. Livingstone, author of Adam’s Ancestors: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human Origins
“This volume of impeccable scholarship and sustained critical inquiry performs an invaluable service. It is a major contribution to writings on the history of geography, but it also shows that Kant’s geography was far from incidental to the whole outworking of his philosophy, nor to what he claimed about the potentialities and pitfalls in shared human occupation of the planet. As such, this volume needs to be read by anyone concerned with enlightenment, modernity, and issues such as cosmopolitanism and transnationalism.” — Chris Philo, editor of Theory and Methods: Critical Essays in Human Geography
Stuart Elden is Professor of Political Geography at Durham University. He is the author of Terror and Territory: The Spatial Extent of Sovereignty and Understanding Henri Lefebvre: Theory and the Possible.
Eduardo Mendieta is Professor of Philosophy at Stony Brook University, State University of New York. He is the author of Global Fragments: Globalizations, Latinamericanisms, and Critical Theory, also published by SUNY Press, and The Adventures of Transcendental Philosophy: Karl-Otto Apel’s Semiotics and Discourse Ethics.
State, Space, World collects a series of Lefebvre’s key writings on the state from this period. Making available in English for the first time the as-yet-unexplored political aspect of Lefebvre’s work, it contains essays on philosophy, political theory, state formation, spatial planning, and globalization, as well as provocative reflections on the possibilities and limits of grassroots democracy under advanced capitalism.
State, Space, World is an essential complement to The Production of Space, The Urban Revolution, and The Critique of Everyday Life. Lefebvre’s original and prescient analyses that emerge in this volume are urgently relevant to contemporary debates on globalization and neoliberal capitalism.
This decade is one of the most fascinating of his career. It begins with the initiation of the sexuality project, and ends with its enforced and premature closure. Yet in 1974 he had something very different in mind for The History of Sexuality than the way things were left in 1984. Foucault originally planned a thematically organised series of six volumes, but wrote little of what he promised and published none of them. Instead over the course of the next decade he took his work in very different directions, studying, lecturing and writing about historical periods stretching back to antiquity.
This book offers a detailed intellectual history of both the abandoned thematic project and the more properly historical version left incomplete at his death. It draws on all Foucault’s writings in this period, his courses at the Collège de France and lectures elsewhere, as well as material archived in France and California to provide a comprehensive overview and synthetic account of Foucault’s last decade.
The Birth of Territory provides a detailed account of the emergence of territory within Western political thought. Looking at ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and early modern thought, Stuart Elden examines the evolution of the concept of territory from ancient Greece to the seventeenth century to determine how we arrived at our contemporary understanding. Elden addresses a range of historical, political, and literary texts and practices, as well as a number of key players—historians, poets, philosophers, theologians, and secular political theorists—and in doing so sheds new light on the way the world came to be ordered and how the earth’s surface is divided, controlled, and administered.
Michel Foucault's The Archaeology of Knowledge was published in March 1969; Discipline and Punish in February 1975. Although only six years apart, the difference in tone is stark: the former is a methodological treatise, the latter a call to arms. What accounts for the radical shift in Foucault's approach?
Foucault's time in Tunisia had been a political awakening for him, and he returned to a France much changed by the turmoil of 1968. He taught at the experimental University of Vincennes and then moved to a prestigious position at the Collège de France. He quickly became involved in activist work concerning prisons and health issues such as abortion rights, and in his seminars he built research teams to conduct collaborative work, often around issues related to his lectures and activism.
Foucault: The Birth of Power makes use of a range of archival material, including newly available documents at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, to provide a detailed intellectual history of Foucault as writer, researcher, lecturer and activist. Through a careful reconstruction of Foucault's work and preoccupations, Elden shows that, while Discipline and Punish may be the major published output of this period, it rests on a much wider range of concerns and projects.
Georges Canguilhem (1904–95) was an influential historian and philosopher of science, as renowned for his teaching as for his writings. He is best known for his book The Normal and the Pathological, originally his doctoral thesis in medicine, but he also wrote a thesis in philosophy on the concept of the reflex, supervised by Gaston Bachelard. He was the sponsor of Michel Foucault’s doctoral thesis on madness. However, his work extends far beyond what is suggested by his association with these thinkers. Canguilhem also produced a series of important works on the natural sciences, including studies of evolution, psychology, vitalism and mechanism, experimentation, monstrosity and disease.
Stuart Elden discusses the whole of this important thinker’s complex work, including recently rediscovered texts and archival materials. Canguilhem always approached questions historically, examining how it was that we came to a significant moment in time, outlining tensions, detours and paths not taken. The first comprehensive study in English, this book is a crucial guide for those coming to terms with Canguilhem’s important contributions, and will appeal to researchers and students from a range of fields.
Today's global politics demands a new look at the concept of territory. From so-called deterritorialized terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda to U.S.-led overthrows of existing regimes in the Middle East, the relationship between territory and sovereignty is under siege. Unfolding an updated understanding of the concept of territory, Stuart Elden shows how the contemporary "war on terror" is part of a widespread challenge to the connection between the state and its territory.
Although the importance of territory has been disputed under globalization, territorial relations have not come to an abrupt end. Rather, Elden argues, the territory/sovereignty relation is being reconfigured. Traditional geopolitical analysis is transformed into a critical device for interrogating hegemonic geopolitics after the Cold War, and is employed in the service of reconsidering discourses of danger that include "failed states," disconnection, and terrorist networks.
Looking anew at the "war on terror"; the development and application of U.S. policy; the construction and demonization of rogue states; events in Lebanon, Somalia, and Pakistan; and the wars continuing in Afghanistan and Iraq, Terror and Territory demonstrates how a critical geographical analysis, informed by political theory and history, can offer an urgently needed perspective on world events.
In Metaphilosophy, Henri Lefebvre works through the implications of Marx’s revolutionary thought to consider philosophy’s engagement with the world. Lefebvre takes Marx’s notion of the “world becoming philosophical and philosophy becoming worldly” as a leitmotif, examining the relation between Hegelian–Marxist supersession and Nietzschean overcoming. Metaphilosophy is conceived of as a transformation of philosophy, developing it into a programme of radical worldwide change. The book demonstrates Lefebvre’s threefold debt to Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche, but it also brings a number of other figures into the conversation, including Sartre, Heidegger and Axelos. A key text in Lefebvre’s oeuvre, Metaphilosophy is also a milestone in contemporary thinking about philosophy’s relation to the world.