Michel Foucault relished telling a Cold War story: in 1959, the Polish secret police "trapped him by using a young translator" and then "demanded his departure" from Poland, where he had arrived less than a year before as director of the French Cultural Center. This article investigates the archival traces surrounding this honey trap story, as well as the many baffling and instructive archival silences. Our research in French and Polish archives, including the former secret police archives, tracks the vertiginous relationships between documents, events, non-events, rumors, and ellipses. We use the Foucault in (and especially out of) Poland story as a window onto the intersection of Western and Eastern surveillance and archive theories and practices. The most influential Western theorist of surveillance believed that his writing and sexuality made him the target of Eastern Bloc surveillance. The groundbreaking theorist and lover of archives suspected himself inscribed in Eastern Bloc secret police archives. Ultimately, the narrative of this search, with particular attention paid to archival silences, leads us to a reevaluation of Foucault's archival theory as well as of our understanding of Soviet era secret police archives and surveillance practices.


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pp. 72-105
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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