chapter  4
The subject in education
Pages 19

Foucault’s work has assumed a significant position in the developing ‘canon’ of the postmodern. However, an assessment of his writings in terms of their implications for educational theory and practice is problematic. Part of the problem is that Foucault himself resists categorisation. At various times in his life Foucault was attacked as an ‘anarchist, leftist, ostentatious or disguised marxist, nihilist, explicit or secret anti-marxist, technocrat in the service of new Gaullism, new liberal, etc.’ (Foucault, quoted in Marshall 1989:99). Since his death in 1984, attempts have been made to see his writings as an extension of his own personality and engagement in sado-masochistic homosexuality (Lilla 1993; see also Miller 1993). The question ‘Who is Michel Foucault?’ is difficult to answer. Recently no less than three biographies have been published (Eribon 1991, Macey 1993, Miller 1993). But biographical details are in themselves not enough because the implication of any biography is that in order to understand what somebody says it is essential to understand who that somebody is by presenting their ‘life’ and thereby establishing their credentials. This is an implication which Foucault himself would have wanted to deny.