Paul Rabinow is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California (Berkeley), Director of the Anthropology of the Contemporary Research Collaboratory (ARC), and former Director of Human Practices for the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC).
He is perhaps most famous for his widely influential commentary and expertise on the French philosopher Michel Foucault. He was a close interlocutor of Michel Foucault, and has edited and interpreted Foucault’s work as well as ramifying it in new directions.
Rabinow is also known for his development of an “anthropology of reason”. If anthropology is understood as being composed of anthropos + logos, then anthropology can be taken up as a practice of studying how the mutually productive relations of knowledge, thought, and care are given form within shifting relations of power.
Rabinow’s work has consistently confronted the challenge of inventing and practicing new forms of inquiry, writing, and ethics for the human sciences. He argues that currently the dominant knowledge production practices, institutions, and venues for understanding things human in the 21st century are inadequate institutionally and epistemologically. In response, he has designed modes of experimentation and collaboration consisting in focused concept work and the explorations of new forms of case-based inquiry.