Michel Foucault, born on October 15, 1926 in Poitiers, France was a French philosopher and historian, one of the most influential and controversial scholars of the post-World War II period. He died of AIDS on June 25, 1984 in Paris.
Foucault was critical of certain philosophical ruminations which he felt were too straightforward questions, and was equally critical of their responses as well. Naturally, his way of thinking was different from his predecessors. His views on power and knowledge and the way they socially control societal institutions, particularly the bourgeois state (including its police, doctors, psychiatrists), along with his work on sexuality deemed him as a "postmodernist", although he disliked the label. He equally disliked being labeled a "homosexual" for being gay.
Much of Foucault's criticism of the bourgeois state perhaps also came from his own family background. His father was an elite surgeon, and upon seeing his son's suicidal tendencies, sent Foucault to a renowned psychiatrist when he was 22. His psychiatrist had determined his stress primarily stemmed from him having to repress his sexuality in a largely heteronormative and censorious society. Consequently, Foucault followed the underground gay movement which had allowed him to express himself more freely.
After reading Nietzche's "The Uses and Abuses of the History of Life", Foucault began to think more the role of history as an archive to offer ideas and insight to help improve the present time. In his writings he criticized the bourgeois state and its institutions such as police, prison, medicine, and psychiatry along with how "modernity" affected sexuality.
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The Map of Salt & Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar.
This rich, moving, and lyrical debut novel is to Syria what The Kite Runner was to Afghanistan. The story of two girls living eight hundred years apart—a modern-day Syrian refugee seeking safety and a medieval adventurer apprenticed to a legendary mapmaker.
It is the summer of 2011, and Nour has just lost her father to cancer. Her mother, a cartographer who creates unusual, hand-painted maps, decides to move Nour and her sisters from New York City back to Syria to be closer to their family. But the country Nour’s mother once knew is changing, and it isn’t long before protests and shelling threaten their quiet Homs neighborhood. When a shell destroys Nour’s house and almost takes her life, she and her family are forced to choose: stay and risk more violence or flee as refugees across seven countries of the Middle East and North Africa in search of safety. As their journey becomes more and more challenging, Nour’s idea of home becomes a dream she struggles to remember and a hope she cannot live without.
More than eight hundred years earlier, Rawiya, sixteen and a widow’s daughter, knows she must do something to help her impoverished mother. Restless and longing to see the world, she leaves home to seek her fortune. Disguising herself as a boy named Rami, she becomes an apprentice to al-Idrisi, who has been commissioned by King Roger II of Sicily to create a map of the world. In his employ, Rawiya embarks on an epic journey across the Middle East and the north of Africa where she encounters ferocious mythical beasts, epic battles, and real historical figures.