Foucault on the State in 1975 – a previously untranslated comment

Progressive Geographies

Foucault was interviewed in 1975 for a Brazilian paper:

Q: In your work, the State seems to occupy a privileged place. And the State represents a privileged instance for understanding historical-cultural formations. Could you specify the conditions of possibility which underpin the State?

A: It is true that the State interests me, but it only interests me differentially [différentiellement]. I do not believe that the entirety [ensemble] of the powers which are exercised within a society – and which assure the hegemony of a class, an elite, or a caste in that society – are entirely contained in the State system. The State, with its grand judicial, military and other apparatuses [appareils], only represents a guarantee, the reinforcement of a network of powers which come through different channels, different from these main routes. My problem is to attempt a differential analysis of the different levels of power in society…

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