Staging of modernity, invention of the social and the productive failures

This is an introductory course where some of the most important theoretical background of the following courses is presented with a focus on Timothy Mitchell’s theory of modernity as a the creation of fractures between reality and representation; Paul Rabinow, Jaques Donzelot and Robert Castel’s neo-foucauldian approach to the creation of the social as a space of norms and ‘normalization’; and the anthropological adaptation of some foucauldian insights by James Ferguson and Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov. Parts of it will be revisited in subsequent courses.


  • Donzelot, Jaques L’invention du social. Essai sur le dèclin des passions politiques. Paris, 1984. [fragments];
  • Mitchell, Timothy ‘The Stage of Modernity’ in Questions of Modernity, ed. T. Mitchell, Minneapolis and London, 2000, 1-34. [fragments].


  • Castel, Robert Les métamorphoses de la question sociale: une chronique du salariat. Paris, 1995. [fragments];
  • Ferguson, James The Anti-politics Machine: ‘Development’, Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho. Cambridge and New York, 1990. [fragments];
  • Rabinow, Paul French Modern: Norms and Forms of the Social Environment. London & Chicago, 1989. [fragments].