Deleule and Guéry: The Productive Body

jhp527b640919e61Thanks to Stewart Elden’s very impressive Progressive Geographies blog, he is more aware than most about what’s in the publishing pipeline. Deleule and Guéry’s book The Productive Body (1972) has a brand new translation, published only a few days ago, and this is exciting for a number of reasons. Firstly, their book is mentioned by Foucault in his Discipline and Punish. Secondly, the chapters take the consequence of the Cartesian conception of the body as a machine into the realm of productive labour, and therefore how psychology and the social sciences have been complicit with this regime of control – or, in Foucault’s analysis, bio-power. Therefore I look forward to reading the book as a way of politicizing what has been of interest to me in Descartes’ Treatise on Man and The Passions of the Soul – the beginnings of a rather mechanistic psychology of the body. And for seeing a concept develop that would likely be instrumental in becoming Foucault’s more encompassing idea of power/knowledge.

As the blurb for the book says:

The Productive Body asks how the human body and its labor have been expropriated and re-engineered through successive stages of capitalism; and how capitalism’s transformation of the body is related to the rise of scientific psychology and social science disciplines complicit with modern regimes of control. In Discipline and Punish, Foucault cited Guéry and Deleule in order to link Marx’s diagnosis of capitalism with his own critique of power/knowledge. The Productive Body brings together Marxism and theories of the body-machine for the goal of political revolution.

More thoughts on this to follow…


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