chapter  2
34 Pages

The genealogy of auditory-sonorous power and resistance

Continuing our journey in Foucault’s intellectual history, we now reach the 1970s. The period marks Foucault’s introduction of the genealogical approach to history, where the issue of power and its articulation with knowledge really occupies the center. Again, we will mostly have to restrain from entering into any broad discussions on the general lines of Foucault’s thinking, but will instead keep on following the development of the “auditory-sonorous.” Without doubt, the most generally known idea in Foucault’s 1970s work,

and probably in his œuvre taken as a whole, is the Panopticon, i.e. the general scheme of surveillance and disciplinary power. Foucault elaborated this on a variety of occasions, e.g. in his early 1970s Collège de France lectures, but the idea became generally known and highly influential through Discipline and Punish (originally published in 1975). British philosopher Jeremy Bentham introduced the concept, first in 1787, in a series of letters. These provide the key textual source for Foucault, out of which he develops his conception of panopticism as the general scheme of modern disciplinary power. When we read it in its entire length, Bentham’s title for his invention

already explains that it is not about the design of some particular institution (e.g. the prison), but indeed, about the general model of surveillancepower, to be applied in any number of different social contexts, and groups of persons:

Panopticon: or the Inspection-House: Containing the Idea of a New Principle of Construction Applicable to Any Sort of Establishment, in which Persons of Any Description are to Be Kept Under Inspection; and in particular to Penitentiary-Houses, Prisons, Houses of Industry, Work-Houses, Poor-Houses, Lazarettos, Manufactories, Hospitals, Mad-Houses, and Schools: with a Plan of Management Adapted to the Principle: in a Series of Letters.