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Becoming the Terror: Foucault on Violent Politics

Becoming the Terror: Foucault on Violent Politics


British Academy

Value to Coventry University


Project Team

Dr Ali Jones


June 2021 - June 2024

Project overview

This research will examine previously undiscovered correspondence between Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and Félix Guattari – three of the 20th century’s most influential political theorists - specifically regarding political violence, vigilante attacks, and resistance to state repression.

It will analyse this correspondence in conversation with new and never published interviews with Foucault during the ‘German Autumn’ terrorist attacks in 1977. This new data is expected to dispel the ‘Neoliberal Seduction Thesis’ that Foucault was an anti-statist who refused to discuss terrorism, and will instead reveal, for the first time, his own invocation that vigilantes and violent extremists must ‘become the terror’ in order to unveil state structural violence. Today, as, for example, Black Lives Matter protestors or armed Trump supporters turn to individual embodied action to contest exactly these invisible structures of power and repression, it is absolutely crucial to understand such violence within its philosophical, political, and historical lineages.

 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023