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Foucault and Harry Potter

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Lauren Fazackarley

on 23 April 2014

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Transcript of Foucault and Harry Potter

Foucault and Harry Potter

Foucault and Power

- Power is not a thing but a relation
- Power is not simply repressive but it is productive
- Power is not simply a property of the State. Power is not something that is exclusively localized in government and the State (which is not a universal essence). Rather, power is exercised throughout the social body.
- Power operates at the most micro levels of social relations. Power is omnipresent at every level of the social body.
- The exercise of power is strategic and war-like
'Power is not a thing but a relation'
Harry and Dumbledore’s relationship- the power that Dumbledore has over harry is not an external power that Dumbledore possesses and therefore ‘has’ to use to control harry. Dumbledore exercises his soft power as a mentor within the mentor-student relationship and this defines the internal structure of their relationship and how Harry sees Dumbledore.

'Power is not simply repressive but it is productive'
'Power is not simply a property of the State'
'Power operates at the most micro levels of social relations. Power is omnipresent at every level of the social body'
'The exercise of power is strategic and war-like'
Harry Potter & Power
Lauren Fazackarley, Thea Finneran, Hannah-Marie Hill & Savannah Garcia
Presentation by:
Foucault, Michel. 'Discipline and Punish; The Birth of The Prison'. The Penguin Group: United Kingdom, 1991.
Dumbledore’s power over Harry makes him who he is.
From a baby he was brought up under Dumbledore’s control – put him with Dursleys, withholding information.
The power Voldemort has over Harry makes him who he is – he goes out to kill Voldemort.
Umbridge – thinks her power is repressive but in fact this is productive as it causes the students to create DA.

Azkaban and Dementors – use of oppression. Emotional oppression. Soft power. No use of violence or torture in prison, only the constant malignant force that exercises emotional power over inmates.
School – fighting back about the government. Umbridge is arm of the ministry, but the students fight back. Institutional power. Minstry does not realise that other institutions (like Hogwarts) has power of their own. Umbridge does not have the power over the school, so tries to overpower the head of the school. This would allow her to exercise the power over the State. She was wrong.

House Elves – not mentioned in Hogwarts: A History. Take care of all of Hogwarts – if they wanted to rebel they could (e.g in the preparation of food), however they are trusted.
Students – Dumbledore’s Army.
Sorting Hat – demonised Slytherins. Other houses have power to stigmatise them.

3:15 - 3:50
Voldemort and Death Eaters.
Ministry attack on Hogwarts – Umbridge becoming teacher, and High Inquisitor, she has power over the teachers. Does not allow student teams/ groups unless looked over by her. Limiting their power.
Dumbledore’s Army – join up against Voldemort.

“People do not have power implicitly; rather power is a technique or action which individuals can engage in. Power is not possessed; it is exercised” – Foucault.
Harry – not actually a powerful being – power is imposed on him.
Dumbledore – educational power. Teacher. Headmaster. Special relationship. Friends. Mentor. Soft power. He manipulates harry. Withholds info about prophecy. Knowing he will die.

Invisible power – Dumbledore, Voldemort, Minsitry.
Shaped by his scar – everything and everyone has exerted power over him.
Magical trace – but this can go wrong – Dobby and the cake.

Barry, Peter. 'Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory'. Manchester University Press: Manchester, 2009.
Rowling, J.K. 'Harry Potter' series. Bloomsbury Publishing: United Kingdom. 1997 - 2007
Full transcript