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International Biopolitics

Foucault, Globalisation and Imperialism

M.G.E. Kelly

In this article, I present a new Foucauldian reading of the international, via Foucault's concept of 'biopolitics'. I begin by surveying the existing Foucauldian perspectives on the international, which mostly take as their point of departure Foucault's concept of 'governmentality', and mostly diagnose a 'global governmentality' or 'global biopolitics' in the current era of globalisation. Against these majority positions, I argue that analysis of the contemporary international through the lens of Foucauldian biopolitics in fact shows us that our world system is marked by a parasitic imperialism of rich sovereign states over poor ones, carried on at the level of populations.

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Islamic Biopolitics during Pandemics in Russia

Intertextuality of Religious, Medical and Political Discourses

Sofya A. Ragozina

, and official statements by representatives of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Russia published between March and May 2020. I shall start by defining the term ‘biopolitics’, a term rarely used together with the term ‘Islamic’. In this

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Leonie Ansems de Vries

Michel Foucault's genealogy of the entry of life into politics provides an incisive account of the manner in which life came to be governed on the basis of its understood biological capacities and requirements. Foucault problematises biopolitics as a mode of governance through which life's potentialities are both produced and immobilised via the continuous (re)production of circulations, or the constitution of the milieu. The question is whether governance can be (dis)ordered such that this problem of biopolitical foreclosure is overcome. This problematique will be broached in this article by staging an encounter between Foucault's problematisation of biopolitical life and Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's biophilosophy, which offers the promise of an ontological movement to think political life anew. Engaging Deleuze and Guattari's concept of the milieu, the article explores whether a shift of focus to an understanding of political life in terms of its potentialities of mobile and relational becoming within a wider play of forces can offer a viable strategy to counter the problematic foreclosure of politics to which Foucault draws attention.

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Target Practice

The Algorithmics and Biopolitics of Race in Emerging Smart Border Practices and Technologies

Tamara Vukov

central place that race continues to hold as a key biopolitical vector in the regulation of mobilities through the mechanism of the border. Focusing largely on the Canadian—U.S. border, it seeks to consider how race is being enacted and reconfigured

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Epidemics as Events and as Crises

Comparing Two Plague Outbreaks in Manchuria (1910–11 and 1920–21)

Christos Lynteris

This article draws on Alain Badiou's notion of the event and on Michel Foucault's critique of the notion of crisis in comparing two pneumonic plague outbreaks in Manchuria. It is argued that the two epidemics, although apparently involving the same pathogen and geographical region, cannot be treated as analogous. The article approaches the Manchurian pneumonic plague epidemic of 1910–11 as an event, and the Manchurian pneumonic plague epidemic of 1920–21 as a crisis, stressing that the crucial difference between the two lies with the way in which they produced and reproduced biopolitical subjects.

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Introduction

The Time of Epidemics

Christos Lynteris

The introduction to this special section of the journal argues that while it is widely accepted today that infectious disease epidemics are the result of long-term and complex social, ecological, economic and political processes, outbreaks are, more often than not, experienced on the ground as unexpected eruptions. This introduction defends the position that the dialectics between the evental and processual aspects of epidemics are good to think with anthropologically, and points to the consequences of this for an analysis of epidemic temporality in the context of emergent infectious disease discourse and intensifying biopolitical surveillance aimed at averting the 'next pandemic'.

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Powers of sovereignty

State, people, wealth, life

Aihwa Ong

Hardt and Negri's trilogy describes an American Empire as shaping a world split between global capital and disenfranchised multitude, leading to a final confrontation between the Empire of capital and the counter-Empire of workers everywhere. However, their interpretation is limited by their philosophical abstraction and revolutionary vision, which fails to recognize the implications of actually existing processes of sovereignty and capital at this global juncture. The situation found in Asia challenges their analysis. In contemporary China, experimental assemblages of sovereign powers, capital, techne, and ethics have not weakened, but, in fact, have strengthened political sovereignty, nationalist sentiments, and collectivist ethos, presenting a different picture of biopolitics from that of Hardt and Negri's global theory. The authoritarian outcomes in China are political solutions forged in circumstances that mingle the global, the historical, and the situated. This article argues that Asian aspirations are rearranging capitalism and political sovereignty as Hardt and Negri understand them.

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The Intimate Uncertainties of Kidney Care

Moral Economy and Treatment Regimes in Comparative Perspective

Ciara Kierans

Today the social and material situations of sick bodies are increasingly and intimately bound up with the variable moral economies of national healthcare systems in uncertain and contrastive ways. I approach these ‘intimate uncertainties’ comparatively and methodologically by drawing on ethnographic fieldwork on transplant medicine in Mexico in order to interrogate European healthcare, specifically the UK. The UK National Health Service is an exemplary site of moral economy, one that the Mexican case appears to stand in stark contrast to. However, as I show, the uncertainties we see at work in Mexico enable us to seek them out in the UK too, particularly those generated at the nexus of the state, failing organs and new strategies for healthcare rationing. The article traces the gendered and socioeconomic inequalities, which follow from these shifts, while offering a critique of analyses that take the European and North American experience as methodologically foundational.

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Humans, Animals, and Health

From Ecology to Entanglement

Alex M. Nading

Medical and environmental social scientists have recently become interested in how health brings human and nonhuman animals together. is article discusses historical approaches to this question. It then explores applied disease ecology, which examines how anthropogenic landscape change leads to “disease emergence.” The article goes on to review two critical approaches to the question. Critics of bio-security concern themselves with the ways in which animal and human lives are regulated in the context of “emerging diseases” such as avian influenza and foot and mouth disease. Scholarship on human-animal “entanglement” focuses on the ways in which disease, instead of alienating humans from other life forms, brings their intimate relationships into sharper relief. The article argues that health is one terrain for developing a critical environmental analysis of the production of life, where life is the ongoing, dynamic result of human and nonhuman interactions over time.

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Chemical Agents

The Biopolitical Science of Toxicity

Melina Packer

This article reviews interdisciplinary toxicity literature, building from Gerald E. Markowitz and David Rosner’s “deceit and denial” and Phil Brown’s “contested illnesses” to argue for a third, more critical analytic that I term “empire and empirics.” Deceit and denial pit corporate actors against antitoxins advocates, while contested illnesses highlight social movements. Empire and empirics center the role of imperialism in reproducing today’s unevenly distributed toxic exposures. I find this third path the most generative because the products and the production of science—toxicants and toxicology—are situated in their sociohistorical, politico-economic, ecological, and affective contexts. Revealing the imperialist logics embedded into dominant ontoepistemology also illuminates alternative, liberatory pathways toward more environmentally just futures. I close with examples of “undisciplined” action research, highlighting scholar-practitioners who study toxicity with care and in nonhierarchical collaboration. While undisciplining is challenging, its potential for realizing environmental justice far outweighs the difficulties of doing science differently.