Michel Foucault

1926 – 1984 • France

Author • Philosopher

One of the world’s most cited philosophers, in the 1970s he campaigned for prisoners’ rights and migrant workers.

In the 1980s he moved towards the reformist ‘Second Left’ such as Michel Rocard, Pierre Mendès France and Edmond Maire.

He was one of the first public figures in France to die of AIDS.

Foucault was one of the 137 intellectuals who called for a silent anti-racist protest from the metro station on the Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle on Saturday 16 December 1972 against the machine-gun murder by an officer of the police at the Versailles police station of a 32-year-old Algerian Mohamed Diab. Banned by the government the march became a battlefield with dozens of arrests of the predominantly migrant demonstrators.

Pierre Wiazemsky, the nephew of Claude Mauriac, one of those who called the demonstration, came back afterwards and completed several sketches, including one of Foucault running away from the CRS attack more speedily than Mauriac. Foucault’s skull narrowly missed being struck by a police batten before they were all arrested.

Jean Genet, Michel Foucault, Claude Mauriac and Alain Geismar sketched together in a Wiaz drawing after their arrests on 16 December 1972

More info