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Call for papers for the study day - "Georges Bataille (1897-1962): towards a critique of management and management

Posted: Sun Jul 04, 2021 2:00 pm
by Linstead
With apologies for cross posting but encouragement for interested listmembers to circulate as widely as possible, an invitation to spend a day in Paris talking about Bataille. Habermas felt that the idea of the postmodern could not be engaged without Bataille as his influence was everywhere; Baudrillard in particular owes a massive debt. Yet he remains comparatively neglected in management - despite the continiued relevance of his concerns to the 21st century.

Call for papers for the study day - "Georges Bataille (1897-1962): towards a critique of management and management sciences"

The SPSG (Société de Philosophie des Sciences de Gestion), the IRG (Institut de Recherche en Gestion) of the University of Paris-Est and the IAE Gustave Eiffel are organising a study day on 9 March 2022 on the theme "Georges Bataille (1897-1962): towards a critique of management and management sciences". We invite you to send us proposals for papers by 15 October 2021.

Bataille, who will have died 60 years ago in 2022, was an inspiration for several of the authors grouped together by some “Anglo-Saxon” commentators under the unifying (and inevitably misleading) term of "French theory": Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, Lacan, Baudrillard. These thinkers are key references for 'critical management studies', whereas Bataille – an important influence on all of them - has too often been ignored.

Several key notions of his anthropological thought, in systemic interaction with each other (we can in his terms speak of a general anthropology), could also be used to think about management from a critical perspective.

“Expenditure”, for example, unproductive or useless expenditure, is the result of energy that is always in excess both on earth and in the cosmos. The desire to reduce it, as governments, economists and managers do (to avoid “drinking form the firehose”), regularly leads to disasters (crises, unemployment, psychosocial problems, suicides at work, etc.).

“Sovereignty”, a notion derived from Hegelian “mastery”, is defined as that which is 'beyond utility' (Bataille, 1956, p. 198). It designates all operations that take place in the moment, and hence opposed to the sort of planned projects so dear to management, and which do not concern themselves with time to come - operations subordinated to nothing other than their immediate pleasure:

"Laughter, tears, poetry, tragedy and comedy (...) play, anger, intoxication, ecstasy, dance, music, combat, the funereal horror, the magic of childhood, the sacred - of which sacrifice is the most intense aspect - the divine and the diabolical, eroticism..." (Ibid., p. 230).

So what about sovereignty when each individual has become a 'dead man working' (Cederström and Fleming, 2012)?

“Communication” represents a relationship of total transparency between people, a shift from the discontinuity of separate beings to the continuity of eroticism. Communication requires that beings seek to go beyond themselves, as torn beings who communicate intensely through their wounds, beings 'on the edge of death, of nothingness' (Bataille, 1945, p. 44). This notion is obviously the opposite of all the instrumental communications we are only too familiar with in management (marketing, public relations, employee relations, etc.) and even goes beyond the social linkages mentioned by sociologists. It has a 'religious' type of content outside of dogmas and rituals, which connects beings through their intimacy and leads to the constitution of heartfelt 'communities' - such as in Bataille’s case the Société Acéphale or the Collège de sociologie in the interwar period (Goodall, 1996 identifies a similar feature in a small college town in South Carolina). A 'full' being absorbed in work or in their ordinary daily life cannot be in 'communication'.

The three notions of 'expenditure', 'sovereignty' and 'communication' put together represent three anthropological characteristics of resistance to deleterious management when it consists over exercising power over people to make them do what they do not wish to do, or literally cannot do without damaging themselves or risking worse.

However the other side of this is eroticism - 'assenting to life up to the point of death' (Bataille, 1957, p 11) - which takes three forms, the eroticism of bodies (sensual passion), the eroticism of hearts (amorous passion) and sacred eroticism (sacrifices). How is this being transformed or even destroyed in the age of digital capitalism and, more generally, of consumerist 'neo-liberalism' that commodifies all human relationships? What is happening to the eroticism of bodies with escorting sites, and the eroticism of hearts with internet dating sites? Furthermore, can eroticism as 'transgression of the law' (Bataille, 1957, p. 219) help us to think about sexuality in organisations (Brewis and Linstead 2000)?

Bataille maintained a critical relationship with several philosophers. His most constant reference point is Nietzsche, whom he wanted to detach at all costs from any link with anti-Semitism and Nazism. There was also Hegel, whom he knew mainly through Alexandre Kojève's legendary Paris seminar on The Phenomenology of Spirit, and with whom he maintained a correspondence and in-depth intellectual exchanges. He read, commented on and criticised Marx, whose economic analysis he retained, but which he thought should be supplemented by Marcel Mauss's sociology of gift and sacrifice, the potlatch seeming to him a typical form of unproductive expenditure, and by psychoanalysis, even if he criticised it elsewhere. He strongly influenced Jacques Lacan, with whom he had intellectual and family ties.

He shares with certain authors in management sciences the desire for interdisciplinarity - not only between the human and social sciences but even with the natural sciences, a tendency we can see in Deleuze. He wrote at the beginning of The Accursed Share:

"This first essay addresses, from outside the separate disciplines, a problem that has not been framed as it should be, one that may hold the key to all the problems posed by every discipline concerned with the movement of energy on the earth, - from geophysics to political economy, by way of sociology, history and biology. Moreover, neither psychology nor, in general, philosophy can be considered free of this primary question of economy. Even what may be said of art, of literature, of poetry has an essential connection with the movement I study: that of excess energy, translated into the effervescence of life. " (Bataille, 1949, p. 10).

This multidisciplinary concern can be found in his reasons for the creation of the journal Critique, which has an exceptional longevity, as it still exists 75 years after its birth in 1946:

"Human consciousness should cease to be compartmentalised. Critique seeks the relationships that can exist between political economy and literature, between philosophy and politics." (excerpt from an interview in Figaro Littéraire quoted by Surya, 1992, p. 450).

Bataille was also a man of reviews. Apart from Critique, which he created, there were those in which he participated, sometimes by subverting them from within (Documents), sometimes by developing ideas far removed from those of his editorial committee (Boris Souvarine's anti-Stalinist Marxist Social Critique), sometimes by creating a sacrificial community (Acéphale)... In all of them, there was an unquestionable freedom of thought, a concern to develop ideas which were often original, exchanges which were sometimes polemical, and obviously a total detachment from career concerns (Bataille was a numismatist by profession) and the search for profitability. Comparison with our currently “listed” and “unlisted” academic journals could be fruitful.

Finally, Bataille regularly criticised scientific and discursive language in various ways, believing that they masked reality, especially everything that was excessive and irrational, which he called heterogeneous elements. In this sense, managerial language should be challenged in its scientific claim to homogenise the phenomena of oppression and power and to rationalise what cannot be rationalised – the non-rational - in organisations. Bataille's writing seeks to escape this rationalisation by using an often poetic and often paradoxical language in a performative manner – as ultimately did Heidegger.

Of course, these themes are not intended as limitations. For example, the notions of sustainable development, social and environmental responsibility, which have become the obligatory leitmotif of company charters, or those of zero growth or edgrowth, can also be questioned with Bataille's thought. Do not hesitate to consult us if you are wondering about the relevance of a theme, or if you are looking for a reference in Bataille’s work before sending your draft paper.

Indicative bibliography :

Badiou A., 2016, [2009], Eloge de l’Amour, avec N. Truong, Paris : Flammarion, (coll. Champs essais).

Bataille G., 1929-1930, ‘The Use Value of D.A.F. de Sade’, in Visions of Excess Selected Writings, 1927-1939, translated by Allan Stoekl, Carl R. Lovitt and Donald M. Leslie Jr, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, p. 91-102.

- 1933, ‘The Notion of Expenditure’, in Visions of Excess Selected Writings, 1927-1939, translated by Allan Stoekl, Carl R. Lovitt and Donald M. Leslie Jr, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, p. 116-129.

- 1945 [1973], Sur Nietzsche, in Œuvres complètes, T. VI, p. 7-205 et notes p. 377-468, Paris : Gallimard, 1973.

- 1939-1945 [1976], La limite de l’utile, in Œuvres complètes, T. VII, p. 181-280 et notes p. 502-598, Paris : Gallimard, 1976.

- 1946 [1976], L’économie à la mesure de l’univers, in Œuvres complètes, T. VII, p. 7-23 et notes p. 465-469, Paris : Gallimard, 1976.

- 1949, The Accursed Share, I. Consumption, translated by Robert Hurley, New York : Zone Books, 1991.

- 1956, Sovereignty, in The Accursed Share Vol III, translated by Robert Hurley, New York: Zone Books, 1993.

- 1957, Erotism Death and Sensuality, translated by Mary Dalwood, San Francisco: City Lights Books 1987.

Bataille G., Weil E, 2014, À en-tête de Critique. Correspondance, 1946-1951, édition établie, présentée et annotée par Sylvie Patron, Fécamp et Saint-Germain-la-Blanche-Herbe, Nouvelles éditions Lignes et IMEC, coll. « Archives de la pensée critique ».

Bergström M., 2019, Les nouvelles lois de l’amour - sexualité, couple et rencontres au temps du numérique, Paris : La Découverte.

Brewis J, Linstead S.A., 2007, “Passion, Knowledge and Motivation: Ontologies of Desire”, Organization, vol. 14, n. 3, p. 351-371.

- 2000, Sex, Work and Sex Work, London : Routledge.

Burrell G., 1984, « Sex and organizational analysis », Organization Studies, vol. 5, n. 2, p. 97-118.

Cederström C. and Fleming P., 2012, Dead Man Working, Winchester, UK and Washington: Zero Books.

De March F., 2016, « Les limites des analyses et préconisations pour la gestion des "risques psychosociaux" dans les organisations en France : quel apport la pensée anthropologique de Georges Bataille pourrait-elle constituer ? », Management international, HEC Montréal, 2016, 20 (2), p.157-167.

- 2015, « La Part maudite : un « non-savoir » économique ? », in La Part maudite de Georges Bataille – La dépense et l’excès (Ouvrage collectif sous la direction de Christian Limousin et Jacques Poirier), Série Littérature des XXe et XXIe siècles, Classiques Garnier, p. 119-134.

- 2014, « Sexuality in organizations : an approach based on Georges Bataille’s theory of eroticism », Society and Business Review, 2014, 9(1), p. 74-84.

Goodall, H. L. 1996 Divine Signs: Connecting Spirit to Community Carbondale, IL: Un. of Southern Illinois Press.

Illouz E., 2018, The End of Love. A Sociology of Negative Relations / Warum Liebe endet. Eine Soziologie negativer Beziehungen, Berlin : Suhrkamp Verlag.

Kojève A., 1947 [1990], Introduction à la lecture de Hegel, Paris : Gallimard, (Tel ; n. 45).

Limousin C., Poirier J., 2015, La Part maudite de Georges Bataille – La dépense et l’excès (Ouvrage collectif sous la direction de Christian Limousin et Jacques Poirier), Série Littérature des XXe et XXIe siècles, Classiques Garnier.

Lippi S., 2008, Transgressions - Bataille, Lacan, Ramonvile Saint-Agne : Erès, (Point Hors Ligne).

Patron S., 2021, éd., Autour de Critique 1946-1962, La Fresnaie-Fayel, Otrante.

- 1999, CRITIQUE 1946-1996 une encyclopédie de l'esprit moderne, Paris : éditions de l'IMEC, publié avec le concours du Centre national du Livre.

Richman M., « Bataille à l’écran – Intimité et histoire en réponse à La Question humaine », in La Part maudite de Georges Bataille – La dépense et l’excès (Ouvrage collectif sous la direction de Christian Limousin et Jacques Poirier), Série Littérature des XXe et XXIe siècles, Classiques Garnier, p. 319-334.

Roudinesco E., 1995, « Bataille entre Freud et Lacan : une expérience cachée », in Georges Bataille après tout, ouvrage collectif, Paris : Belin, p. 191-212.

Surya M., 1992 [1987], Georges Bataille, la mort à l'œuvre, (2e éd.), Paris : Gallimard.

"Useful" videos to introduce those who do not know or only know a little into the Bataille Universe (in French):

La conférence de Monika Marczuc et Emmanuel Tibloux à l’Ecole des Chartes le 4 mars 2021 :

To hear Bataille :

Le film d’André Labarthe « Bataille à perte de vue » :

To see Bataille :

Un entretien de 1958 dans l’émission Lectures pour tous à propos de son livre La littérature et le mal : ... video.html

Timeline :

•Intentions de communication (2-3 pages) : 15 octobre 2021 (Proposed contributions)

•Sélection et retour fin novembre 2021 (Selection and return with comments)

•Communications complètes : fin janvier 2022 (Final paper)

•Journée d’étude : 9 mars 2022 (Study day)

Standard format :

•20 pages de texte au maximum

•Times New Roman 12, Interligne 1,5

•Texte justifié

•Marges 2,5 (haut, bas, droite, gauche)

The best contributions could be published in a collective work or an academic journal

Contact and where to send contributions (indicating your professional affiliations in your emails): François De March (

Scientific Committee:

Yoann BAZIN (Professor of Business Ethics at EM Normandie, Associate Scholar at Said Business School (University of Oxford), Visiting researcher at the Maison Française d'Oxford).

Mathias BEJEAN (Maître de conférences HDR, IRG, Univ Paris-Est Créteil).

Marius BERTOLUCCI (Maître de conférences à l’IMPGT, CERGAM, Aix-Marseille Université).

Laurent BIBARD (Professeur à l'ESSEC, Département Management, Directeur de la filière Management et Philosophie).

Julienne BRABET (Professeur émérite en sciences de gestion, Université Paris-Est Créteil - IAE Gustave Eiffel – IRG).

Jean-François CHANLAT (Professeur émérite, Université Paris-Dauphine PSL, Professeur invité, Institut Mines-Telecom BS).

Ghislain DESLANDES (Professeur à ESCP Business School).

François DE MARCH (Chercheur associé, IRG Université Paris-Est, Créteil).

Jean-Paul DUMOND (Professeur des universités, Université Paris-Est Créteil).

Emmanuel GABELLIERI (Professeur HDR à la Faculté de Philosophie, UR Confluence « Sciences et Humanités », Université Catholique de Lyon).

Eva ILLOUZ, (Sociologue, directrice d’études à l’EHESS).

Anne JANAND (Maitre de Conférences HDR, Université-Paris-Saclay, Laboratoire RITM, EA 7360).

Rémi JARDAT (Professeur agrégé des universités, Université d’Evry Paris-Saclay).

Erwan LAMY (Professeur associé, ESCP Business School).

Romain LAUFER (Professeur émérite, HEC Paris).

Christine LEMAITRE (Maître de conférences en philosophie, habilitée à diriger des recherches, Institut d'Histoire de la philosophie, Aix Marseille Université).

Stephen LINSTEAD (PhD, DLitt, Professor of Management Humanities, University of York; Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences, Royal Anthropological Institute, Royal Geographical Society, and Chartered Psychologist).

Silvia LIPPI (Psychanalyste, docteur en psychologie et psychologue hospitalière à l’Etablissement Public de Santé Barthélémy Durand à Etampes, autrice).

Anne MARCHAIS-ROUBELAT (Maître de Conférences HDR au CNAM).

Monika MARCZUK (Codirectrice de la rédaction des Cahiers Bataille).

Jérôme MERIC (Professeur des Universités, IAE-CEREGE, Université de Poitiers).

Jean-Luc MORICEAU (Professeur à IMT-BS, laboratoire LITEM, Université de Paris-Saclay).

Sylvie PATRON (Maîtresse de conférences habilitée à diriger des recherches en langue et littérature françaises, Université de Paris).

Adrien PENERANDA (Maître de conférences en sciences de gestion à Sciences Po Toulouse, chercheur membre du LEREPS).

Yvon PESQUEUX (Professeur du CNAM).

Muriel PREVOT-CARPENTIER (Maîtresse de conférences en ergonomie, Paragraphe-C3U, Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis).

Baptiste RAPPIN (MCF HDR, IAE Metz School of Management / Institut d’Histoire de la Philosophie).

Michèle RICHMAN (Professeure émérite d'études françaises, University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104, U.S.A.).

Emmanuel TIBLOUX (Directeur de l’École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs).