Discipline and Punish and the discursive production of Australian historiography
thesisposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by Geoffrey DanaherGeoffrey Danaher
Thesis aims to show how Michel Foucault's study of changes in French penal practice between 1757 and 1840, Discipline and Punish: the Birth of Prison (1977), can be used to challenge various enlightenment humanist values in forming the historiographic construction of the first European settlement in Australia.. This thesis is entitled Discipline and Punish and the Discursive Production of Australian Historiography, and aims to show how Michel Foucault's study of changes in French penal practice between 1757 and 1840, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1977), can be used to challenge various enlighten-ment humanist values informing the historiographic construction of the first European depth upon two historical texts: Manning Clark's A History of Australia Volume I and Robert Hughes' The Fatal Shore. My aim is two fold: first, to highlight the utility of critiquing the narrative politics informing Clark's and Hughes' construction of character, community and historical meaning from a contemporary theoretical or poststructuralist perspective which thinkers such as Foucault have made available; and second, to show how the historical events and source material which Clark and Hughes appropriate in constructing their historiography might be related to some of the issues concerning the disciplinary production of the modern subject which Foucault discusses in Discipline and Punish. Foucault connects the birth of the modern prison with a multiplicity of techniques aimed at surveying, training and disciplining the subject body of the prisoner, procedures which might be linked with wider mechanisms within the society at large, providing, Foucault suggests, a 'carceral continuum' linking the production of delinquent subjects in the prison with the production of acompliant social body in the world outside. As these changes coincide with the beginning of European settlement in Australia, I am interested in discerning to what extent the forces and mechanisms of power Foucault identifies are evident in a colony designed for the exile of convicts.