March 29, 2017

Recent Developments in Governmentality Studies: Counter-conduct

William Walters

Wednesday, March 29, 10:00AM–12:00PM, Room 1510, SFU Harbour Centre

Sponsored by SFU's Institute for the Humanities

NOTE: This workshop is by invitation. Please contact if you are interested in participating.


This seminar looks at the idea of counter-conduct which Foucault outlines primarily in his lecture series Security, Territory, Population (1977-78) - a series that, in retrospect, has come to be most closely associated with the theme of governmentality. Foucault's writings on governmentality have had a profound impact right across the social sciences and humanities, yet only very recently has the theme of counter-conduct enjoyed sustained and critical attention on the part of scholars. Among the questions we will ask in this seminar are: What is counter-conduct? How does the theme feature in the trajectory of Foucault's thought, including his idea of governmentality, and how does it differ from analyses which juxtapose power and resistance? What new light might counter-conduct shed on our understanding of contemporary struggles and conflicts? To ground our understanding of counter-conduct the seminar will consider some recent cases within the field of migration and borders.

Suggested Reading

  • Foucault, M. 2007. Security, Territory, Population - Lectures at the Collège de France 1977-1978, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 191-226 (lecture eight). 
  • Davidson, A. 2010. 'In Praise of Counter-Conduct', History of the Human Sciences 24(4): 25-41.
  • Death, C. 2010. ‘Counter-conducts: A Foucauldian Analytics of Protest’, Social Movement Studies 9(3): 235-251. 


William Walters is a Professor of Political Sociology in the Departments of Political Science and Sociology & Anthropology at Carleton University, Ottawa. He has published widely in such areas as migration and citizenship studies, security and borders, and Foucault studies. His most recent book is Governmentality: Critical Encounters (Routledge 2012) which has just come out in Japanese. He co-edits the book series Mobility & Politics (Palgrave Macmillan). His main research interests are secrecy, publicity, mobility and infrastructure. He is working on a new book provisionally titled The Production of Secrecy (Routledge) as well as a collaborative project on aviation and deportation.