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The Conundrum of Cultural Difference, From Tunisia to Japan
292 pages, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78533-622-5 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (October 2017)
ISBN 978-1-78920-817-7 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (June 2020)
eISBN 978-1-78533-623-2 eBook
“Written by a leading sociological theorist of gender with roots in North Africa, Foucault's Orient is the most comprehensive survey to date of the French poststructuralist's perceptions of and writings on non-Western societies… Lazreg's book is an immanent critique in the best sense of the word… Despite its generous and measured tone, Foucault's Orient offers in the end a devastating portrait of one of the most important thinkers of the last few decades, whose pioneering work on punishment and on sexuality continues to resonate.” • Contemporary Sociology
“This is a serious and pivotal book that shows the limits of Foucault’s rejection of universalism and humanism. Lazreg’s book allows us to re-read Foucault within his boundaries.” • Massimiliano Tomba, University of Padua.
Foucault lived in Tunisia for two years and travelled to Japan and Iran more than once. Yet throughout his critical scholarship, he insisted that the cultures of the “Orient” constitute the “limit” of Western rationality. Using archival research supplemented by interviews with key scholars in Tunisia, Japan and France, this book examines the philosophical sources, evolution as well as contradictions of Foucault’s experience with non-Western cultures. Beyond tracing Foucault’s journey into the world of otherness, the book reveals the personal, political as well as methodological effects of a radical conception of cultural difference that extolled the local over the cosmopolitan.
Marnia Lazreg is professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her latest publications include Torture and the Twilight of Empire: From Algiers to Baghdad (Princeton, 2008); and Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women (Princeton, 2009).