By Alexander Giesen

As part of the World Congress “Foucault: 40 Years After”, doctoral researcher Alex Giesen is organising a workshop on Michel Foucault’s late ethico-political thought to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his death. Below is the call for participation.

Michel Foucault’s intellectual trajectory during the final decade of his life, from 1975 to 1984, witnessed a notable redirection. Recent critical-biographical works such as Kélina Gotman’s “Foucault, Aufklärung, and the Historical ‘Scene’” (2018), Michell Dean and Daniel Zamora’s The Last Man Takes LSD (2021), and Henri-Paul Fruchaud, Daniele Lorenzini, and Arnold Davidson’s What Is Critique? and The Culture of the Self (2024) shed light on this transition. It is suggested that, among other things, Foucault’s engagement with Kant, his journalistic experiences during the Iranian revolution, experimentation with drugs, encounters in California, and exploration of Pierre Hadot’s work on stoicism were pivotal in shaping his late intellectual endeavours.

This workshop aims to foster a discussion by focusing on Foucault’s Berkley lecture titled “The Culture of the Self” (1983), delivered a year before his death, about Foucault’s late ethico-political thought. Foucault here self-diagnoses and underscores his shift from an emphasis on the ‘analysis of our relation first to truth and then to obligation’ to the ‘relation to oneself and the techniques which have shaped those relations’: ‘the historical ontology of ourselves’. Drawing from his lectures, interviews from the last decade, and The History of Sexuality (volumes II onwards), our inquiry extends to the present, contemplating Foucault’s probing questions:

‘What is our present reality as a historical figure? What defines our existence in this reality, and what philosophical imperatives does it entail?’

Beyond merely situating Foucault within his historical context, we hope to re-evaluate the relevance of concepts such as the ‘historical ontology of ourselves’, ‘techniques of the self’, and ‘care of the self’ in the contemporary landscape, four decades after his death. Through this inquiry, we seek to discern how Foucault’s insights resonate with the challenges and exigencies of the present moment, and what implications they hold for contemporary philosophical discourse.

The workshop is scheduled for June 20th, 2024, from 11am-2pm in person at King’s College London. Limited places are available. Participation is open to individuals from master’s level onwards, with potential eligibility for some third-year undergraduates. To participate, please email a brief personal statement (50 words) expressing your interest in the workshop and detailing your current work by Monday, April 8th, 2024, to organiser Alexander Theo Giesen, email: For any inquiries, please don’t hesitate to reach out.


The workshop is part of the World Congress “Foucault: 40 Years After. For more information about the congress follow the link:

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