Empire and governmentality

Mitchell Dean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Empire, like Michel Foucault's thought on power, takes its aim at the heart of the present. Also like his thought, it is an event as much as a theory. It not only offers analysis and diagnosis but also hopes to have effects in the present and to establish linkages with social and political struggles. The article compares the analysis in Empire with Foucault's thought, particularly on the points where Empire draws on, or perhaps rather, claims to draw on his work. Whereas Hardt and Negri approach their task by means of a realist account of the mutation of power relations and a teleological philosophy of history with strong dialectical elements, Foucault's 'nominalist critique' seems to aim in the opposite direction, the author argues, in that it confronts regimes of truth with their historical conditions and effects. Despite its efforts to incorporate Foucault's insights, Hardt and Negri disregard both the importance of singularities and the genealogical trajectories of the modern technologies of government.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-122
Number of pages12
JournalDistinktion : Scandinavian journal of social theory
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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