Bernard Harcourt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Bernard E. Harcourt (born 1963)[1] is an American critical theorist with a specialization in the area of punishment, surveillance, legal and political theory, and political economy. He is the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Director of the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought[2] at Columbia University,[3] previously the Julius Kreeger Professor and chairman of the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago.[4]

Bernard E. Harcourt is an author of several books, and has edited French and English editions of Michel Foucault's lectures at the Collège de France and at Louvain.[3]

Harcourt is an active human rights lawyer, representing inmates on death row and serving life imprisonment without parole, including bringing cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.[5] Formerly, he lived and worked in Montgomery, Alabama, at what is now the Equal Justice Initiative.[3]


Harcourt was raised in New York City by French parents and attended the Lycée Français de New York,[6]:217 he earned his bachelor's degree in political theory at Princeton University in 1984, after which he worked in finance.[2][6] Harcourt then attended Harvard Law School where he earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1989,[2] he later returned to Harvard University to pursue Ph.D. studies in political science, receiving his doctorate in June 2000.[2]


Harcourt clerked for Charles S. Haight, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.[2]

From 1990 to 1994, Harcourt lived in Montgomery, Alabama and represented death row inmates on direct appeal, in state post-conviction, in federal habeas corpus, and at retrial at the Equal Justice Initiative.[6] While in Alabama, he represented a number of death row inmates, including an innocent man sentenced to death, Walter McMillian.[7]

Harcourt was on the law faculty of the University of Arizona College 1998 to 2001,[8] he was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School during the 2001-2002 academic year, and at New York University School of Law in the Fall of 2002. Harcourt was a visiting professor at the École Des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris in 2007-2008, at the University of Paris X—Nanterre in January through March 2008, at the Paul Cézanne University Aix-Marseille III in December 2008,[8] and at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 2016-2017.[9][10]

Harcourt was appointed Julius Kreeger Professor of Law and Criminology at University of Chicago in 2003 and was elected chairman of the Department of Political Science in 2010.[4][11]

In 2013 Harcourt became a directeur d'études (chaired professor) at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris.[3]

Harcourt was appointed Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Director of the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought at Columbia University in 2014.[12]


Bernard Harcourt's writings focus on issues of punishment, social control, legal and political theory, and political economy from a critical, empirical, and social theoretic perspective.

His most recent book, Exposed: Desire and Disobedience in the Digital Age (Harvard UP), explores how our digital practices have transformed the circulation of power in contemporary society and produced what he refers to as a new "expository society".[13]

In his previous book, The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order (Harvard UP, 2011), Harcourt explored the paradoxical relationship between laissez faire and mass incarceration.[14]

In Occupy (UChicago Press 2013), Harcourt develops the theory of political disobedience that he first articulated in the New York Times.[15]

Harcourt has edited works by Michel Foucault in French and English, he is the editor of the French edition of Foucault's 1972 Collège de France lectures on Théories et institutions pénales published by Gallimard in 2015[16] and Foucault's 1973 Collège de France lectures on La société punitive published by Gallimard in 2013.[17] He is the co-editor with Fabienne Brion of Michel Foucault's 1981 Louvain lectures, Mal faire, dire vrai. Fonction de l'aveu en justice (in French with Presses Universitaires de Louvain and in English with Chicago University Press).

He has also written on the actuarial turn in policing and punishment in Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing, and Punishing in an Actuarial Age (U of Chicago P, 2007) and on youth gun-carrying in Language of the Gun: Youth, Crime, and Public Policy (U of Chicago P, 2005).

In Language of the Gun, Harcourt develops a post-structuralist theory of social science, he argues that social scientists need to embrace the ethical choices that they make when they interpret data. He proposes a more transparent and open discussion of those ethical choices, which, he claims, are embedded in the methodological and interpretive decisions that researchers necessarily make in the course of their research.[18]

In Illusion of Order: The False Promise of Broken Windows Policing (Harvard 2001), Harcourt challenges evidence for the broken windows theory and offers a theoretical critique of the underlying assumptions of the policing strategy.[19]

Harcourt conducted research on the relationship between prison and asylum populations in three papers on the topic.[20][21]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2015, Bernard E. Harcourt was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Aix-Marseille University in France for his contributions to contemporary critical thought.[22]

He is also the recipient of the 2009 Gordon J. Laing Prize for his 2007 book, Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing and Punishing in the Actuarial Age.[23]

Books and edited volumes[edit]

  • 2015 – Exposed: Desire and Disobedience in the Digital Age, Harvard University Press (October 2015)
  • 2015 – ed., Michel Foucault, Théories et institutions pénales. Cours au Collège de France. 1971–1972, Gallimard
  • 2014 – ed. with Fabienne Brion, Michel Foucault, Wrong-Doing, Truth-Telling: The Function of Avowal in Justice, University of Chicago Press
  • 2013 – ed., Michel Foucault, La société punitive. Cours au Collège de France. 1972–1973, Gallimard
  • 2013 – Occupy: Three Inquiries in Disobedience, (with W.J.T. Mitchell and Michael Taussig) University of Chicago Press
  • 2012 – ed. with Fabienne Brion, Michel Foucault, Mal faire, dire vrai. La fonction de l'aveu en justice [Louvain 1981 lectures] Presses universitaires de Louvain
  • 2011 – The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order, Harvard University Press
  • 2007 – Against Prediction: Punishing and Policing in an Actuarial Age. University of Chicago Press
  • 2006 – L'illusion de l'ordre: Incivilités et violences urbaines: tolérance zéro?, Éditions Descartes
  • 2005 – Language of the Gun: Youth, Crime, and Public Policy, University of Chicago Press
  • 2005/2014 – Carceral Notebooks (editor), Vol. 1–10[24][25]
  • 2003 – Guns, Crime and Punishment in America (editor), New York University Press
  • 2001 – Illusion of Order: The False Promise of Broken Windows Policing, Harvard University


  1. ^ "LC Online Catalog - Browse Authors". Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "About the Director | Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought | Columbia Law School". Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Distinguished Scholar Bernard E. Harcourt Joins Columbia Law School | Columbia Law School". Archived from the original on October 2, 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  4. ^ a b "Bernard Harcourt Elected as Chair of Political Science Department". University of Chicago Law School. 2010-06-16. Retrieved 2016-03-27. 
  5. ^ Gonnerman, Jennifer (2016-09-13). "The Long Defense of the Alabama Death--Row Prisoner Doyle Lee Hamm". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2016-09-16. 
  6. ^ a b c Bryan Stevenson. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption Random House Publishing Group, 2014 ISBN 9780812994537
  7. ^ "Alabama Releases Man Held On Death Row for Six Years". The New York Times. March 3, 1993. 
  8. ^ a b Janet Brauneis (2009-02-18). "Criminal Law Expert to Speak During UA Law Lecture Series". UANews. Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  9. ^ "The Long Defense of Doyle Lee Hamm". Institute for Advanced Study. 2016-09-13. Retrieved 2016-09-16. 
  10. ^ "Bernard E. Harcourt". Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science. Retrieved 2016-09-16. 
  11. ^ "News | University of Chicago Law School". Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  12. ^ "Bernard E. Harcourt | Faculty | Columbia Law School". Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  13. ^ Tenen, Dennis (2016-02-05). "Opt Out". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 2016-03-27. 
  14. ^ Grant, James (2010-12-20). "Price And Punishment: Is there a connection between the ideal of an unregulated economy and a large prison population?". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2016-03-27. 
  15. ^ [1] Archived January 5, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ "Foucault’s Politics of Truth by Stuart Elden". Berfrois. Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  17. ^ "Stuart Elden on Foucault’s third/eleventh". Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  18. ^ Massoglia, Michael (2007-03-06). "Language of the Gun: Youth Crime and Public Policy by Bernard Harcourt". Law & Society Review. 41: 253. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5893.2007.00297_1.x. Retrieved 2016-03-27. 
  19. ^ "On GPS: Does broken windows policing work? - CNN Video". 2015-01-27. Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  20. ^ Bernard E. Harcourt. "Reducing Mass Incarceration: Lessons from the Deinstitutionalization of Mental Hospitals in the 1960s" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  21. ^ Bernard E. Harcourt. "Chicago Journals : An Institutionalization Effect: The Impact of Mental Hospitalization and Imprisonment on Homicide in the United States, 1934–2001" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  22. ^ "Professor Bernard E. Harcourt to Be Awarded Honorary Doctorate by University of Aix-Marseille". 2015-11-09. Retrieved 2016-03-27. 
  23. ^ "Harcourt Honored with Laing Book Prize". 2009-04-16. Retrieved 2016-03-27. 
  24. ^ About the Authors. in Law Enforcement Ethics: Classic and Contemporary Issues. Ed Brian D. Fitch. SAGE Publications, 2013 ISBN 9781483312538
  25. ^ "CrimProf Blog". Retrieved 2015-11-26. 

External links[edit]