Foucault Symposium, June 28 2013

The SHC network funded a one-day Foucault Symposium at the University of Helsinki, June 28, 2013. The conference was organized by Johanna Oksala and Jemima Repo, and it provided the multidisciplinary audience with a wide variety of topics relating to Michel Foucault’s work: genealogy, freedom, critique and biopolitics.

The conference was opened up by an intriguing keynote speech by Béatrice Han-Pile (University of Essex) with the title Foucault, Normativity, and Critique as a Practice of the Self, which emphasized, first of all, the need to distinguish between epistemic and ethical normativity in Foucault’s work. Regarding the first topic, Han-Pile interestingly connected Foucault’s interest in historical explanation with the Kantian question concerning conditions of possibility, thus pointing towards interesting connections between Foucauldian archealogy and the (Kantian) transcendental framework. In the second part of her talk, Han-Pile focused on the implications of Foucault’s philosophy of history, especially the question of historical critique. While renouncing the ideas of absolute foundation and universal teleology with a single normative ideal, Foucault was still able to hold on to the idea of critique as a historically bound, context-dependent reflection that works against all forms of domination and suppression. This critique, Han-Pile pointed out, was to be understood as the movement of freedom as such, which balances between the processes of self-examination and self-distanciation.

Béatrice Han-Pile answering in the Q&A section.

Professor Béatrice Han-Pile answering questions and comments in the Q&A section.

Han-Pile’s keynote was followed by Mika Ojakangas’s presentation Plato and Biopolitics, which argued for the need to locate the Foucauldian notions of biopower and biopolitics already in Ancient Greek thought, namely, the political philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. Arguing against both the Arendtian division between oikos and polis in Greek thought as well as Foucault’s own historical narrative on the birth of biopower in Early Christian thought, Ojakangas argued for the explicitly racist, misogynic and eugenic elements in Aristotle’s Politics and especially in Plato’s Laws, which he considered as one of the founding texts of the biopolitical tradition of the West. Ojakangas’ paper was followed by Sergei Prozorov’s Biopolitics of Stalinism: Ideas and Bodies in the Construction of Socialism, which, against Foucault’s own remarks on the biopolitics of “Stalinism”, argued for the unique character of Soviet governmentality with a special focus on the transition from the explicit “class struggle” of the Bolshevik constitutions of the 1930s to the politics of “enemy of the state” promoted by Stalin from the late 1930s onwards. The last two papers were presented by Jemima Repo and Lauri Siisiäinen.  Unfortunately, Martin Saar had to cancel his presentation.

Professor Mika Ojakangas delivering a lecture at the Foucault Symposion organized by SHC, 28 June, 2013.

Professor Mika Ojakangas delivering a lecture at the Foucault Symposion organized by SHC, 28 June, 2013.


International Symposium on Foucault

28 June 2013, University of Helsinki, Fabianinkatu 33, lecture hall 10, 3rd floor


10.15–12.00 Béatrice Han-Pile (University of Essex): Foucault, Normativity, and Critique as a Practice of the Self

12.00-13.30 Lunch Break

13.30–15.00 Martin Saar (Frankfurt University): Subject, Truth, Democracy: Foucault and Political Philosophy

Mika Ojakangas (University of Jyväskylä):  Plato and Bio-politics

15.00-15.30 Coffee

15.30–17.30 Sergei Prozorov (University of Helsinki):  Biopolitics of Stalinism: Ideas and Bodies in the Construction of Socialism

Jemima Repo (University of Helsinki):  Herculine Barbin and the Omission of Biopolitics from Judith Butler’s Gender Genealogy

Lauri Siisiäinen (University of Jyväskylä):  From Global Vision to Short Sight: Foucault and the Neo/Liberal Turn in Political Optics

Johanna Oksala ( & Jemima Repo (

Organised by the Subjectivity, Historicity, and Communality (SHC) Research  Network, University of Helsinki


Michel Foucault (1926-1984)


Research Seminar in Phenomenology

The research seminar in will continue in late August 2013 at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Fabianinkatu 24, 2nd floor seminar room on Fridays 10–12 a.m.

Those interested in presenting a paper at the seminar, please contact Timo Miettinen
( [a]

Women, Truth, Action: an International Conference in Philosophy

10–12, October, 2013, University of Helsinki, Finland

Keynote Speakers include: Lena Halldenius (Sweden), Sally Haslanger (USA), Alice Pugliese (Italy), Lanei Rodemayer (USA) and Charlotte Witt (USA)

We hereby invite abstracts for papers to the forthcoming conference Women, Truth, Action, at the University of Helsinki. The conference will focus on three fields and themes informed by the gender perspective: phenomenology (“Subject, Body, World”), metaphysics (“Meaning and Objectivity”), and politics (“Action and Change”). The conference is motivated by the fact that in all these fields women philosophers work with excellent results and with innovative approaches. We wish to bring together scholars from different philosophical traditions – analytic and continental – as well as from history of philosophy so that they can share their insights on common topics of interest and establish a dialogue across dividing lines that mainly are dogmatic and seldom beneficial.

We welcome proposals from senior researchers as well as from graduate students.
Proposals should consist of a suggested title and an abstract (max. 400 words). Proposals will be blind reviewed. Please, provide the title of the paper, your name, affiliation and contact information in the cover letter. Remember to give the same title in the abstract and in the cover letter!

Deadline for submission: April 1, 2013. Submitters will be notified of the decisions by May 1, 2013.

To submit a proposal, send it as an email attachment and with a cover letter to Virpi Lehtinen ( Please, include the title of the proposal also to the covering letter. Ensure that the subject line of the email reads: WTA 2013 Proposal.

Organizers: Sara Heinämaa’s Project Ethics of Renewal (HCAS, UH, AF) and The Association for Women and Feminist Philosophers in Finland (NFY)
Sponsors: Finnish Cultural Foundation, Subjectivity, Historicity and Communality (SHC),Philosophical Psychology, Morality and Politics Research Unit (PMP)

Organization Committee: Virpi Lehtinen, Sara Heinämaa, Martina Reuter, Erika Ruonakoski and Sanna Tirkkonen (University of Helsinki)