Foucault, the museum and the diagram

Hetherington, Kevin (2011). Foucault, the museum and the diagram. Sociological Review, 59(3) pp. 457–475.



Foucault’s work on the museum is partial and fragmentary but provides an interesting opportunity through which to explore issues of power, subjectivity and imagination. Following a discussion of Deleuze’s reading of Foucault and his introduction of the issue of diagram as a way of understanding the discursive and visual operation of power, the paper explores some of Foucault’s work from the period around 1967-9 on the non-relation to explore how he engaged with the question of seeing/saying that Deleuze identifies as a key problematic in his work. Through analysis of Foucault’s discussions of the themes of the outside, heterotopia and the work of the painter Manet, in the context of the museum, the paper explores how power operating through the diagram of the museum allows us to understand the space of imagination as one in which subjectivity is constituted.

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