Foucault on Freedom

jo-freedomFoucault on Freedom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) identifies the different interpretations of freedom in Foucault’s philosophy and shows that in order to appreciate his project fully we must understand his complex relationship to phenomenology. The book also discusses Foucault’s treatment of the body in relation to the feminist work on the topic and makes new openings in feminist phenomenology. The book has been reviewed in professional journals, discussed in book panels (SPEP 2006, British Society for Phenomenology 2010), and cited widely.


How to Read Foucault


How to Read Foucault (London: Granta Books, 2007) is an introductory book written for a wide academic audience. A review in Foucault Studies (no. 8, Feb 2010, by Trent Hamann) rates it as the best introduction to Foucault currently available. Professor Gary Gutting recommends it as one of the five best books on Foucault. The book has been translated and republished in South-Korea, Japan and Brazil.

Foucault, Politics, and Violence


Foucault, Politics, and Violence (Northwestern University Press, 2012) develops an original philosophical position by outlining a distinctive conception of the political and its relationship to violence. It allows us to understand forms of violence that characterize our current political landscape: the relationship between violence and the law in the post-2001 world, gendered violence, state violence and its relationship to neoliberalism, and the significance of terrorism for our contemporary understanding of politics. In addition to Foucault’s thought, the book assesses critically the work of several other prominent philosophers advocating an agonistic conception of politics such as Carl Schmitt, Hannah Arendt, Chantal Mouffe, Giorgio Agamben and Slavoj Žižek. The book has been reviewed in professional journals and discussed in a book panel at SPEP 2013 in Eugene, Oregon.


Political Philosophy: All That Matters

Political Philosophy: All That Matters (London:jo-polfil Hodder and Stoughton, 2013) is a compact guide to the key issues of political philosophy. Rather than attempting to provide definite answers, the book invites readers to recognize many of the issues encountered in everyday life as political, the outcome of human practices that incorporate power relations, social norms and obligations. The key claim is that political philosophy should be understood as an open-ended, critical project that concerns everyone. The book employs an original structure: each chapter focuses on selected classic texts in political philosophy, which are briefly introduced and analysed. The texts then function as a springboard for a discussion of central contemporary issues in political philosophy.

Feminist Experiences: Foucauldian and Phenomenological Investigations


Feminist Experiences: Foucauldian and Phenomenological Investigations (Northwestern Universtity Press, 2016) develops and defends a distinctive understanding of feminist philosophy as social critique. Feminist philosophy is essentially a political endeavour aiming to expose, analyze, and ultimately change gendered power relations. However, such an understanding of feminist philosophy raises a host of theoretical problems and paradoxes. The book investigates the philosophical challenges and outlines the ontological presuppositions and methodological innovations the project requires. Drawing on conceptual tools from the thought of Michel Foucault, but also from the tradition of phenomenology, it explores the role of experience in feminist philosophy and its relationship to language and linguistic meaning. It concludes by sketching a feminist ontology of the present through a critical investigation of neoliberalism and the challenges it presents to feminist theory and politics. The book has been reviewed in professional journals and discussed in book panels at NoSP 2017 in Trondheim, Norway, and at SPEP 2017 in Memphis, Tennessee.


Edited books

  • Johanna Oksala & Laura Werner (eds.), Feministinen filosofia (Feminist Philosophy). Helsinki: Gaudeamus. 2005.
  • Sara Heinämaa & Johanna Oksala (eds.), Rakkaudesta toiseen: kirjoituksia vuosituhannen vaihteen etiikasta (Essays on Ethics). Helsinki: Gaudeamus. 2001.


Refereed journal articles

  • Feminism against Biocapitalism: Gestational Surrogacy and the Limits of the Labor Paradigm. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, vol. 44, no: 4, pp. 883-904. 2019.
  • Gutting, Gary and Oksala, Johanna: Michel Foucault. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), 2018.
  • Feminism, Capitalism, and Ecology. Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, vol. 33, no: 2, pp. 216 – 234. 2018. Translated into Portuguese and published in Brazil in 2020.
  • Affective Labor and Feminist Politics. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society; vol. 41, no: 2, pp. 281–303. 2016.Foucault, Husserl and the Roots of German Neoliberalism. Continental Philosophy Review, vol. 49, no: 1, pp. 115–126. 2016.
  • Political Philosophy in the Era of Climate Change: Between Eco-Cosmopolitanism and the Green State. Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, vol. 37, no: 1, pp. 51–70. 2016.
  • In Defense of Experience. Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 388–403. 2014.
  • Foucault, Feminism and Neoliberal Governmentality. Foucault Studies, a special issue on feminist theory, no. 16, September 2013, pp. 32–53. 2013.
    Translated into Spanish and published in Para una crítica del neoliberalismo: Foucault y Nacimiento de la biopolítica, edited by Rodrigo Castro and Emmanuel Chamorro, pp. 257-294. Madrid: Lengua de Trapo (2020). 
  • Sexual Experience: Foucault, Phenomenology and Feminist Theory, Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 207–223. 2011.
  • The Neoliberal Subject of Feminism. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, vol. 42, no.1, pp. 104–120. 2011.
  • Violence and Neoliberal Governmentality, Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 474–86. 2011.
  • How is Feminist Metaphysics Possible? Feminist Theory, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 281-96. 2011.
  • Foucault’s Politicization of Ontology. Continental Philosophy Review, vol. 43, no. 4, pp. 445–66. 2010.
  • Violence and the Biopolitics of Modernity. Foucault Studies, a special issue on Foucault and Agamben, no. 10, November 2010, pp. 23–43. 2010.
  • The Management of State Violence: Foucault’s Rethinking of Political Power as Governmentality. Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 53–66. 2007.
  • A Phenomenology of Gender. Continental Philosophy Review, vol. 39, no. 3, pp. 229–44. 2006. 
    Translated into German and published in Dem Erleben auf der Spur: Feminismus und Phänomenologie, edited by Hilge Landweer and Isabella Marcinski, 219-234. Bielefeld: transcript (2016). 
  • Anarchic Bodies: Foucault and the Feminist Question of Experience, Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 99–122. 2004.
  • What is Feminist Phenomenology? Thinking Birth Philosophically, Radical Philosophy, 126, pp. 16–22. 2004.
    Translated into Swedish and republished: Vad är feministsk fenomenologi?, Stil, Kön, Andrahet: Tolv essäer i feministisk filosofi. Björk, U. & Folkmarsson Käll, L. (eds.). Göteborg: Daidalos, p. 115-131. 2004.
  • Johanna Oksala & Laura Werner: Rakkaus, valta ja anteeksianto. Feministisen filosofian suhde länsimaiseen ajatteluperinteeseen (Love, Power and Forgiveness. Feminist Philosophy and the History of Western Thought), Tiede & edistys 27: 4, pp. 304–314. 2002.
  • Eettiset ruumiit ja sukupuoliset subjektit (Ethical Bodies and Sexual Subjects), Naistutkimuslehti 13:2, pp. 43–59. 2000.
  • Ollako vai eikö olla? Kysymyksiä identiteetistä (To be or not to be? Questions of Identity), Naistutkimuslehti 12:2, pp. 2–15. 1999.
  • Cyberfeminists and Women: Foucault’s Notion of Identity, NORA – Nordic Journal of Women’s Studies, 6:1, pp. 39–48. 1998.

Book chapters

  • Déconstruire le réel: la phénoménologie critique comme anti-naturalisme. Entretien avec Johanna Oksala, in Mickaëlle Provost and Marie Garrau (eds.), Phénoménologies critiques. Expériences vécues du genre et de la race.  Translated into French by Mickaëlle Provost and Marie Garrau. Forthcoming. 2020.
  • Michel Foucault and the Task of Philosophy, in Mark Sinclair and Daniel Whistler (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Modern French Philosophy. Forthcoming. 2020.
  • Feminism against Neoliberalism: Questioning the Political with Wendy Brown, in Amy Allen and Eduardo Mendieta (eds.), The Critical Theory of Wendy Brown. Forthcoming. 2020.
  • Ordoliberalism as Governmentality: A Foucaudian Perspective, in Thomas Biebricher and Frieder Vogelmann (eds.), The Birth of Austerity. Ordoliberalism – Sources and Analyses. London: Rowman and Littlefield International, pp. 181-196. 2017.
  • Feminism, Capitalism, and the Social Regulation of Sexuality, in Banu Bargu and Chiara Bottici (eds.), Feminism, Capitalism, and Critique: Essays in Honor of Nancy Fraser. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 67–84. 2017.
  • Feminism and Power, in Ann Garry, Serene Khader and Alison Stone (eds.), Routledge Companion to Feminist Philosophy. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 678-689. 2016.
  • A Phenomenology of Gender, in Hilge Landweer and Isabella Marcinski (eds.), Dem Erleben auf der Spur: Feminismus und Phänomenologie (Discovering lived experience: Feminism and Phenomenology). Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, pp. 219–234. 2016.
  • Microphysics of Power, in Lisa Disch and Mary Hawkesworth (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 472–489. 2016.
  • Violence, in Leonard Lawlor and John Nale (eds.), The Cambridge Foucault Lexicon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 528–533. 2014.
  • Resistance, in Leonard Lawlor and John Nale (eds.), The Cambridge Foucault Lexicon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 432–437. 2014.
  • From Biopower to Governmentality, in Christopher Falzon, Timothy O’Leary and Jana Sawicki (eds.), A Companion to Foucault. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 320–336. 2013.
  • Neoliberalism and Biopolitical Governmentality, in Sven-Olov Wallenstein and Jacob Nilsson (eds.), Foucault, Biopolitics and Governmentality. Stockholm: Södertörn Philosophical Studies, pp. 53–72. 2013.
  • Lines of Fragility: A Foucauldian Critique of Violence, in Christopher Yates and Nathan Eckstrand (ed.), Philosophy and the Return of Violence: Studies from this Widening Gyre. London: Continuum, pp. 154–171. 2011.
  • Freedom and bodies, in Dianna Taylor (ed.), Michel Foucault: Key Concepts. Durham: Acumen Publishing, pp. 85–97. 2011.
  • Post-structuralism: Michel Foucault, in Soren Overgaard and Sebastian Luft (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Phenomenology. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 528–539. 2011.
  • Female Freedom: Can the Lived Body be Emancipated? in Dorothea Olkowski and Gail Weiss (eds.), Feminist Interpretations of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, pp. 209–228. 2006.
  • From Sexual Difference to the Way of Breath. Toward a Feminist Ontology of Ourselves, in Ellen Mortensen (ed.), Sex, Breath and Force: Sexual Difference in a Post-Feminist Era. Lanham: Lexington Books, pp. 33–48. 2006.
  • From the Death of the Author to the Freedom of Language: Foucault on Literature, in Flora Ruokonen & Laura Werner (eds.), Visions of Value and Truth. Understanding Philosophy and Literature. Acta Philosophica Fennica, vol. 79. Helsinki: The Philosophical Society of Helsinki, pp. 191–201. 2006.
  • Feministinen filosofia nykyisyyden ontologiana (Feminist Philosophy as an Ontology of the Present), in Johanna Oksala & Laura Werner (eds.), Feministinen filosofia (Feminist Philosophy). Helsinki: Gaudeamus, pp. 156–173. 2005.
    Translated into Estonian and republished: Feministlik filosoofia tänapäeva ontoloogiana. Ariadne Long. Nais- ja meesuuringute ajakiri, VI, ½, 2005–2006, pp. 84–96. 2005.
  • The Postmodern Loss of Identities, in Jan Stampehl, Dörte Brekenfeld, Aino Bannwart and Ulrike Plath (eds.), Perceptions of Loss, Decline and Doom in the Baltic Sea Area – Untergangsvorstellungen im Ostseeraum. Berlin: Berliner Wissenschaftsverlag, pp. 39–46. 2004.
  • Seksuaalisuus ja filosofia (Sexuality and Philosophy), in Heta Gylling, S. Albert Kivinen ja Risto Vilkko (eds.), Kielto (Prohibition). Helsinki: Yliopistopaino, pp. 233–239. 2004.
  • Michel Foucault: Filosofin ruumis (Philosopher’s Body), in Timo Kaitaro and Markku Roinila (eds.) Filosofin kuolema (Philosopher’s Death). Helsinki: Summa, pp. 337–342. 2004.
  • The Birth of Man, in Dan Zahavi, Sara Heinämaa and Hans Ruin (eds.), Metaphysics, Facticity, Interpretation. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 139–163. 2003.
  • Järjen ja tahdon tuolla puolen: etiikan mahdoton subjekti (Beyond Reason and Will: The Impossible Subject of Ethics), in Sara Heinämaa and Johanna Oksala (eds.), Rakkaudesta toiseen: kirjoituksia vuosituhannen vaihteen etiikasta (Essays on Ethics). Helsinki: Gaudeamus, pp. 54–83. 2001.
  • Johdanto (Introduction), in Sara Heinämaa and Johanna Oksala (eds.), Rakkaudesta toiseen: kirjoituksia vuosituhannen vaihteen etiikasta (Essays on Ethics).  Helsinki: Gaudeamus, pp. 7–20. 2001.
  • Sara Heinämaa & Johanna Oksala: Subjektin ja vallan filosofiaa: Foucault’n genealogian suhde Husserlin transendentaalifilosofiaan (Philosophies of Subject and Power: Foucault and Husserl), in Juha Räikkä and Mikko Wennberg (eds.), Mitä on valta? (What is Power?) Kuopio: Unipress, pp. 269–98. 2000.
  • Tehokkaan koulimisen keinot – Foucault’n disipliinin käsite (The Means of Correct Training – Foucault’s Concept of Discipline), in Timo Airaksinen and Katri Kaalikoski (eds.), Opin filosofiaa, filosofian opit (Philosophy of Learning). Helsinki: Yliopistopaino, pp. 265–279. 1999.
  • Foucault ja feminismi (Foucault and Feminism), in Sara Heinämaa, Martina Reuter and Kirsi Saarikangas (eds.), Ruumiin kuvia (Images of the Body). Helsinki: Gaudeamus, pp. 168–190. 1997.

Other journal articles

  • New Challenges for Feminist Eco-Politics: The Capitalist Production of Nature and Commercial Gestational Surrogacy, forthcoming in Immaterial Books. 2020.
  • Philosophy in a time of pandemic. Philosophy Today, vol. 64, no. 4, pp. 895-899.
  • Feminist Experiences: Reply to Beata Stawarska. Puncta: Journal of Critical Phenomenology, vol. 2, pp. 42–45. 2019. 
  • Feminist Experiences: A Reply to Smaranda Aldea and Amy Allen. Continental Philosophy Review, vol. 52, no. 1, 2019, pp. 135–142. 2019.
  • The Paris Climate Deal: Just Words? Public Seminar, 2016.
  • Foucault and Neoliberalism AUFS Event: Johanna Oksala – Never Mind Foucault: What Are the Right Questions for Us? An und für sich, 2015.
  • Gender, Biotechnology, and Capitalist Nature. New Criticals, 2015.
  • Capitalism and Gender Oppression: Remarks on Cinzia Arruzza’s Remarks on Gender. Viewpoint Magazine, 2015.
  • Foucault, Marx and Neoliberal Subjects. Theory, Culture, Society, 2015.
  • The Politics of Gendered Violence: A Foucauldian Approach. Labrys, etudes feministes/estudos feministas, vol. 26, 2014.
  • Foucault, Politics, and Violence: A Response to Jana Sawicki and Kevin Thompson. Philosophy Today 58:2, pp. 297–307. 2014.
  • Neoliberalism and the Feminine Subject. Public Seminar, 2014.
  • Johanna Oksala and Malin Grahn: Valta, väkivalta ja sukupuoli: foucault’lainen analyysi (Power, Violence, and Gender: A Foucaudian Analysis), niin & näin: filosofinen aikakauslehti 2/2013, pp. 96-105. 2013.
  • Minäteknologiat (Technologies of the Self), Katsaus 1/2004, pp.14–22. 2004.
  • Foucault ja kokemuksellinen ruumis (Foucault and the Experiential Body), niin & näin 4/2003, pp. 67–72. 2003.
  • Miksi meidän on ajateltava valistusta? (Why should we still think about the Enlightenment?), Nuori Voima, 4/03, pp. 42–43. 2003.
  • Foucault, fenomenologin och filosofins uppgift (Foucault, Phenomenology and the Task of Philosophy), Filosofisk Tidskrift, 22: 2, pp. 40–49. 2001.
  • Seksiä, ruumiita ja metafysiikkaa (Sex, Bodies and Metaphysics), Nuori Voima, 1/01, pp. 11–13. 2001.
  • Mikä on Foucault’n sukupuoli? (What is Foucault’s Sex?), Tiede & Edistys, 24:1, pp. 59–60. 1999.
  • Kyberfeminismi: Teknologiaa, suolia ja sukupuolia (Cyberfeminism: Technology, Guts and Sexes), Kuva-lehti, 1/98, pp. 8–11. 1998.



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