requiem for certainty

On ‘Information and Identity’…

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… over at The Garden of Forking Paths (by Zach VanderVeen).


Written by Colin Koopman

February 10, 2014 at 5:09 pm

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Infopolitics piece in the New York Times

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My short opinion piece on infopolitics in the New York Times is just out.  In it I discuss ideas at the center of my current book project.  The focus is on how information became the political morass that it is today.  A big part of the story has to do with how we all became the informational morasses that we are today.  I call these two parts of the story ‘informational politics’ and ‘informational persons’.

The broader project is a ‘history of the present’ of our contemporary zero-moment of dragnet surveillance, big data analytics, and other intersections of information and politics in which we are finding ourselves. The historical part of the project traces a genealogy of where we find ourselves today back to the late nineteenth century.  The image here is one of umpteen emblems for the project: Emma Goldman’s 1893 mug shot: her crime was “anarchism” for which she spent two weeks in Moyamensing Prison in Philadelphia.  Other emblems might include: Francis Galton’s bertillon (or anthropometry) record, the fingerprint records of Sir William Herschel, Herman Hollerith’s tabulating machine which was used to produce the first computer (or at least proto-computer) tabulated census in 1890, or future Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis’s co-authored 1890 article on what we would later come to call ‘information privacy’.

Please spread the word on the NYT article (and if you feel moved to leave a comment please do so as that would help if I approach them in the future with another piece).

See the post below for a recent recording of a lecture I gave on this topic.

Written by Colin Koopman

January 27, 2014 at 2:07 am

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Stuart Elden’s Reading List

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Here is a useful year-in-review reading list from Stuart Elden over at Progressive Geographies…

As for me, I spent much of 2013 digging through historical monographs on information, data, and other such subjects.  That and I finally read Middlemarch (and Silas Marner, and Mill on the Floss)!

Written by Colin Koopman

December 31, 2013 at 5:36 pm

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Infopolitics Talk

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UPDATE: a video of the talk is now available over at Synthetic Zero (thanks, Dirk!).

Below is a flyer for a talk this afternoon at OSU… I gave a version of this earlier in the quarter at Penn State, and another version at Utah back at the very start of the quarter… Many thanks to Stephanie Jenkins (of OSU, and before that Penn State for the Ph.D.) for the invite… Looking forward to the class visit, too, to talk about Foucault.


Written by Colin Koopman

December 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm

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‘Critical Inquiry’ article

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I have an article out in the Summer 2013 issue of the (truly excellent!) journal Critical Inquiry.  The article is co-authored with anthropologist Tomas Matza (now at Duke Univ.), a collaborator I met while I was down at UC Santa Cruz (when Tomas was over at Stanford finishing up his Ph.D.).  The article argues, in Foucault’s case at least, for the separability of analytics (or methods) and the concepts (or ideas) that these methods are used to produce. The argument is meant to be generalizable to other instances, but it is genealogy that matters for us here.  We’re both very pleased to have this come out in Critical Inquiry.  Thanks to many of you (cited in the article) for feedback on earlier versions.

The article is titled “Putting Foucault to Work: Analytic and Concept in Foucaultian Inquiry” and here is the abstract:”Is there a single area of intellectual inquiry in the humanities and social sciences where the work of Michel Foucault is not taken seriously? Discipline, biopolitics, governmentality, power/knowledge, subjectivation, genealogy, archaeology, problematization—these are just a few of the many Foucaultisms that have been adopted in fields such as philosophy, sociology, cultural anthropology, political science, history, literary studies, area studies, and much else besides. Just a short list of the forms of Foucault’s influence would necessarily include certain of his philosophical commitments, methodological strategies, discursive resources, and materials for reflection.

Cheers.  Let me know your thoughts.

Written by Colin Koopman

July 23, 2013 at 5:18 am

Book(s) Session at APA-Pac

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I am very much looking forward to the author-critics session at APA-Pacific tonight on my Pragmatism and Genealogy books.  It’s quite an honor to have a chance to open both books up to public scrutiny together (in part because the two books were really written together as ‘one idea’ as it were).

I owe an enormous thanks to Brad Stone, Noelle McAfee, and Paul Patton for being my scrutinizers.  There are, of course, many others to whom much gratitude is owed in addition.  Both books are products of a series of ongoing conversations in which I am just one locale of many — the books are thus in may ways not entirely of me though I am of course the site at which these specific interventions have been articulated.  They are both not ‘mine’ but also mine.  In any event, the occasion tonight will be a welcome opportunity to have a chance to submit these locales in the conversation to criticism, in the sense of that word according to which it is an achievement.

I am trying to think of a funny joke as part of my response but nothing good is coming to me.  Perhaps the tone will just have to be very ultra-serious.

(By the way, if you happen to be at apa-pacific and can’t make the session, which will be in the kent room of the conference hotel, but want to come out after for a little book-criticism celebrating, then just send me a txt or an email to find out where some of us are heading.)

Written by Colin Koopman

March 30, 2013 at 7:49 pm

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My latest book now exists… as a book…

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I received copies of my Genealogy as Critique this week.  It is a real little object.  That makes me happy.  So I posed for a picture of myself holding it.  Then I went out with a few friends to celebrate its publication.  Through it all I even donned a bowtie to punctuate the occasion with what I hope was an unassuming bit of flair.

The publisher did a  handsome job with ck + gcthe typography and cover, or at least I think so.  Indeed, I’m very happy with the cover design and image (and yes, I chose the image, it’s a Duchamp, surprise surprise, and you can read about it in the book).

Here is a description from the back cover (cobbled together, of course, somewhere between me and the publishers): “Viewing Foucault in the light of work by Continental and American philosophers, most notably Nietzsche, Habermas, Deleuze, Richard Rorty, Bernard Williams, and Ian Hacking, Genealogy as Critique shows that philosophical genealogy involves not only the critique of modernity but also its transformation. Colin Koopman engages genealogy as a philosophical tradition and a method for understanding the complex histories of our present social and cultural conditions. He explains how our understanding of Foucault can benefit from productive dialogue with philosophical allies to push Foucaultian genealogy a step further and elaborate a means of addressing our most intractable contemporary problems.”

If you like, you can read more about the book on Indiana University Press’s website ( and, one hopes, in book reviews in your favorite journals soon.  If you are coming to APA Pacific then there will be a little author-critics session on this book plus the Pragmatism one, if you feel like coming out in support.

I could say much much muchly more but I guess that’s why I wrote the thing.  Hopefully I say it all there.

And so on to the next one.

Written by Colin Koopman

February 3, 2013 at 3:40 am