Mapping the present : space and history in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger and Michel Foucault
This thesis seeks to contribute to the growing literature on the theoretical issues surrounding the notions of space and place, by examining how they can be put to work in a historical study. This work is achieved through a reading of Foucault, who not only sketched a history of space, but also undertook a number of spatial histories. To understand this, and these histories, this thesis begins by reading Foucault's professed influence on history, Nietzsche, and goes on to highlight the key role that Heidegger plays in this understanding. Just as Heidegger is central to Foucault's work on history, it is suggested that the importance of space also stems from Heidegger, especially from his work in the 1930s which critically engages with Nietzsche and the Romantic poet Hölderlin. The importance of space, or more fundamentally place, becomes central to Heidegger's later work on modern technology, his rethinking of politics and the πόλις, and art. Reading Foucault's work on history draws out the nature of his spatial language. Not only is his work replete with spatial metaphors, but he also made analyses of actual spaces. This is most evident in Foucault's two large scale historical projects – the history of madness from the Renaissance to the beginnings of psychology in Histoire de la folie, and the study of modern discipline in the army, hospitals, schools and prisons found in The Birth of the Clinic, Discipline and Punish but also in numerous shorter pieces and lectures. His two major works are re-read as spatial histories, and the standard interpretations to an extent re-placed, in the light of the argument developed in the previous chapters. Foucault's historical approach is often described as a history of the present: given the emphasis on space, it is here rethought as mapping the present.