Fifteen years after the Global Financial Crisis: Recessions and Business Cycles in the History of Economic Thought

Michel Foucault and the historiography of political economy

Cot Annie, University Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne

The French philosopher Michel Foucault dealt with the historiography and history of political economy at two different periods of his work. In 1966 and 1969, in Les mots et les choses (The Order of Things) and in L’archéologie du savoir (The Archaeology of Knowledge), and ten years later, in the two courses he delivered between 1977 and 1979, at the Collège de France in Paris: Sécurité, territoire, population (Security, Territory, Population) and Naissance de la biopolitique (The Birth of Biopolitics). If the purpose of these two sets of texts and the thesis they defend are extremely different, both reveal an original perspective both on the historiography and on the history of the economic discipline. The paper presents Foucault’s methodological and philosophical agenda for the history of modern “knowledge” and discusses the relations between these two perspectives: one centred on an “archaeology” of economic knowledge (understood both as “savoir” and as “connaissance”), the other focused on a “genealogy” of the modern form of political power: liberal “governmentality”, whose major intellectual instrument since the mid-eighteenth century would have been, according to Foucault, economic theory.

Area: Eshet Conference

Keywords: Michel Foucault, historiography