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3 January 1973

Chapter
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Part of the Michel Foucault book series (MFL)

Abstract

I WILL START WITH a somewhat playful hypothesis. You know that in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries one entertained the idea of classifying societies into two types according to the way in which they dealt with their dead. Thus a distinction was made between cremating and burying societies.1 I wonder whether we could not attempt to classify societies, not according to the fate they reserve for the dead, but to the fate they reserve for those of the living whom they wish to be rid of, according to the way in which they bring those who seek to evade power under control, to how they react to those who in one way or another overstep, break, or get around the laws.*

Keywords

English Translation Death Penalty Social Mechanism Penal System Penal Practice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    English translation by A. M. Sheridan Smith, The Birth of the Clinic. An Archaeology of Medical Perception (London: Tavistock Publications, 1973) p. 166 (describing an important fact of civilization of the same “of the same order as … the transformation from an incinerating to an inhuming culture”).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See C. Lévi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques (Paris: Plon, “Terre humaine,” 1955) p. 448Google Scholar
  3. English translation by John Weightman and Doreen Weightman, Tristes Tropiques (London: Penguin Classics, 2012) p. 388Google Scholar
  4. The anthropological analysis of cannibalism, linked to the classification of societies as assimilating or excluding, was developed by Alfred Métraux (1902–1963), in particular in: La Religion des Tupinamba et ses rapports avec celle des autres tribus Tupi-Guarani (Paris: Librairie Ernest Leroux, 1928) pp. 124–169Google Scholar
  5. See I. Combes, La Tragédie cannibale chez les anciens Tupi-Guarani, Preface by Pierre Chaunu (Paris: PUF, coll. “Histoire et decadence,” 1994)Google Scholar
  6. English translation by Graham Burchell, Abnormal. Lectures at the Collège de France 1974–1975, English series editor, Arnold I. Davidson (New York: Picador, 2003) pp. 101–104Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    Foucault is no doubt referring here to the works of René Girard, who had just published La Violence et le Sacré (Paris: Grasset, 1972)Google Scholar
  8. English translation by Patrick Gregory, Violence and the Sacred (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977)Google Scholar
  9. English translation by Yvonne Freccero, The Scapegoat (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989).Google Scholar
  10. English translation by Yvonne Freccero, The Scapegoat (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989).Google Scholar
  11. English translation by Alan Sheridan, Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison (London: Allen Lane, 1977) p. 259, when describing the chain-gang at the start of the nineteenth century.Google Scholar
  12. 6.
    English translation by Ian McLeod, “The Order of Discourse” in Robert Young, ed., Untying the Text (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981)Google Scholar
  13. English translation by Jonathan Murphy and Jean Khalfa, History of Madness (London and New York: Routledge, 2009) pp. 3–6.Google Scholar
  14. 7.
    See M. Foucault, “Préface à la transgression” (Critique, 195–196: Hommage à G. Bataille, August-September 1963, pp. 751–769)Google Scholar
  15. 8.
    English translation by Stephen W. Sawyer, Wrong-Doing, Truth-Telling. The Function of Avowal in Justice, eds., Fabienne Brion & Bernard E. Harcourt (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014) p. 238.Google Scholar
  16. 12.
    English translation by Graham Burchell, Lectures on The Will to Know. Lectures at the Collège de France 1970–1971, English series editor, Arnold I. Davidson (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) pp. 183–201.Google Scholar
  17. 13.
    see J. R. Strayer, On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, “Princeton Classics,” 1970) p. 29Google Scholar
  18. 17.
    see F. Olivier-Martin, Histoire du droit français des origines à la Révolution (Paris: Éditions du CNRS, 1984 [1950]) p. 68.Google Scholar
  19. see, C. Debuyet, F. Digneffe, A. P. Pires, Histoire des savoirs sur le crime et la peine (Brussels: Larcier, “Crimen,” 2008) vol. 2, p. 44.Google Scholar
  20. 18.
    This figure of the homo sacer in archaic law, “that figure of the man whom one can kill without committing murder, but that one cannot formally execute,” will be studied by Giorgio Agemben in his Homo sacer. Il potere sovrano e la nuda vita (Torino: Einaudi, 1995)Google Scholar
  21. English translation by Daniel Heller-Roazen, Homo Sacer. Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  22. English translation by John Johnston, “The Anxiety of Judging” in M. Foucault, Foucault Live, ed., Sylvère Lotringer (New York: Semiotext(e), 1989) pp. 157–178Google Scholar
  23. For a presentation of Foucault’s commitment against the death penalty, see A. Kiéfer, Michel Foucault: le GIP, l’histoire et l’action, philosophy thesis, November 2006, Université de Picardie Jules Verne d’Amiens, 2009, pp. 169–172.Google Scholar
  24. 23.
    English translation by David Macey, “Society Must Be Defended.” Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975–1972, English series editor, Arnold I. Davidson (New York: Picador, 1997), p. 89 sq.Google Scholar

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© Graham Burchell 2015

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