The Ethics of Resistance

Sovereignty and Territory in Foucault's College de France lectures (1970-1984)


  • Jack Robert Coopey Durham University, University of St Andrews
  • Jack Coopey



The issues of sovereignty and territory can be discussed through ethics. Foucault's College de France lectures (1970-1984) cover such concepts as governmentality and biopolitics that influenced sovereign states, especially in regards to modernity of the eighteenth century. Foucault performs analyses of how discourses through power-knowledge form structures that define an 'Other' in terms of madness, reason and sexuality. This paper shall argue that these 'molar' questions of states are underpinned by a 'molecular' question of ethics, in which Foucault attempts to practice a new form of ethics, thereby subverting the sovereignty in the lecture hall in which he lectured in, and the scholars writing years later. Foucault argues that modernity has changed the nature of sovereignty and territory. Therefore, these questions are not only a question of ethics, but one bound up by the question of modernity and how it has transformed the eighteenth-century conception. The idea that Foucault uses is the definition of ethics, and thus he uses this as an analogy to describe how sovereignties and territories interact. In conclusion, Foucault views sovereignty and territory as philosophical spaces instead of physical or geographical ones, and that a new ethics of resistance is needed to combat neo-liberal bureaucracy.


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Author Biography

Jack Robert Coopey, Durham University, University of St Andrews

PhD Candidate, German Department, Durham University






Featured Theme: Narrating, Nation, Sovereignty & Territory