Research

Present Work

My manuscript, How Propaganda Became Public Relations: Foucault and the Private Government of the Public, should ship with Routledge in late 2019.

This manuscript and a few related articles form a genealogy of modern propaganda, roughly 1800-present. This work corrects the misapprehension that the primary function of propaganda is to make the true seem false and the false seem true. Propagandists do not so much care what we think, they care about what we do; they are focused on getting us to conduct ourselves in the ways their clients want.  

Instilling false beliefs is only one way of governing conduct and not the most durable one at that. Much more effective (and pernicious!) is the way that propaganda governs our behavior by transforming who we are, so that we freely and willingly do what is wanted. A special focus of propaganda is changing who we are together, our mass subjectivity, by altering social norms, conventions, and values. When the condition of social belonging is to adopt conduct that propagandists have embedded in social interactions (e.g. fashion, politics, entertainment) then the propagandists have enlisted society to do their work for them. In the end, we often do not need to be lied to because we are already the kind of people who willingly comply without question.

You can get a taste of this manuscript in articles I published here and here.

Future Work

My long term interest is to explore private (non-state) apparatuses of government, especially the corporation. My plan is to work my way through marketing and industrial engineering in my next manuscript (I am bypassing advertising because quite a bit has already been said about it). I am also interested in the way that the internet has been mobilized as a private apparatus of government by corporations and I plan on using the background I am building in my work  to offer new insights into this phenomenon.

Past Work

I wrote my dissertation on Foucault to learn how to do what he did. Like Foucault, I wanted to learn how to use philosophy to create openings for new possibilities to occur in contemporary society. I always was the kind of person that given a choice between A or B would find a way to choose C or a D. I try to use that drive to open options for thought and action in spaces where the choices are too few or insufficient.

My first articles expanded my competency in Foucault and resolved issues I had in his work. I also continued to work and write my way through the history of social and political philosophy.

After a few years of continuing to work on Foucault and his approach, while at the same time supplementing my knowledge of the history of philosophy, I felt I was ready to begin to write with Foucault, rather than writing about Foucault. My work on propaganda is the fruit of the more mature genealogical direction of my work.

Manuscript:

  • How Propaganda Became Public Relations: Foucault and the Private Government of the Public. Forthcoming. Routledge, Fall/Winter 2019.

Articles:

For open access to all my published work, visit PhilPapers.

  • “The Roots of the ‘Post-Truth’ Era in Corporate Public Relations: A Genealogy of the Epistemological Relationship Between the Corporation and Its Publics,” Forthcoming.
  • “Propaganda and the Nihilism of the Alt-Lite: A Genealogy.” Under review.
  • “Peons and Progressives: Race and Boosterism in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, 1904-1940.” The Western Historical Quarterly 49, no. 4 (2018). *Nominated for the Vicky L. Ruiz Award 2018 for best article on race in the North American West.
  • “How Is President Trump Possible?: A Genealogy of Propaganda, the Public, and the Hatred of Professionals.” Journal of Speculative Philosophy 31, no. 1 (2018).
  • “The Job of Creating Desire: Propaganda as an Apparatus of Government and Subjectification.”  Journal of Speculative Philosophy 30, no. 1 (2017).
  • “Acceptable Risk.”  In The SAGE Encyclopedia of Economics and Society, edited by Frederick Wherry.  London: Sage, (2015).
  • “Pleasure.”  In Encyclopedia of Political Thought, edited by Michael Gibbons.  Boston: Blackwell-Riley, (2014).
  • “Moralities of Self-Renunciation and Obedience: The Later Foucault and Disciplinary Power Relations.” Philosophy Today 55, no. 2 (2011): 37-49.
  • “Review of Shannon Winnubst’s Queering Freedom (Bloomington, IN, Indiana University Press, 2006).” Foucault Studies 10 (2011): 214-217.
  • “Liberty and the Normative Force of the Law in Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws.” Minerva 14 (2010): 36-65.
  • “The Joy of Difference: Foucault and Hadot on the Universal and the Aesthetic.” Philosophy Today 53, no. 2 (2009): 191-202.
  • “Montesquieu and Locke on Democratic Power and the Justification of the ‘War on Terror.’” International Studies in Philosophy 40, no. 2 (2008)” 107-120.