For years critical theorists and Foucauldian biopolitical theorists have argued against the Aristotelian idea that life and politics inhabit two separate domains. In the context of receding social security systems and increasing economic inequality, within contemporary liberal democracies, life is necessarily political.
This collection brings together contributions from both established scholars and researchers working at the forefront of biopolitical theory, gendered and sexualised governance and the politics of race and migration, to better understand the central lines along which the body of the governed is produced, controlled or excluded.
Introduction: The Two Bodies of Biopolitics, Hannah Richter
Part I: The Politics of Life Beyond Foucault
Chapter 1: Foucault and the Two Approaches to Biopolitics, Marco Piasentier
Chapter 2: The Life Function: The Biopolitics of Sexuality and Race Revisited, Jemima Repo
Chapter 3: “Measurement of Life”: The Disciplinary Power of Racism, Hidefumi Nishiyama
Part II: Mapping Intersectional Geographies of the Body: Race, Gender, Sexuality, Economy
Chapter 4: Homo Sacer is Syrian: Movement-Images from the European “Refugee Crisis”, Hannah Richter
Chapter 5: The Biopolitical Economy of “Guest” Worker Programs, Greg Bird
Chapter 6: The Biopolitics of Donation: Gender, Labour and Motherhood in the Tissue Economy, Maria Fannin
Chapter 7: Mapping the Will for Otherwise: Towards an Intersectional Critique of the Biopolitical System of Neoliberal Governmentality, Charlie Yi Zhang
Part III: Embodied Life: Erasure, Contagion, Immunisation
Chapter 8: On the Government of Bisexual Bodies. Asylum Case Law and the Biopolitics of Bisexual Erasure, Christian Klesse
Chapter 9: A Death-Bound Subject: The Gravedigger of the Unmarked Mass Graves in Kashmir, Shubranshu Mishra
Chapter 10: Biopolicing the Crisis: Gendered and Racialised “Health Threats” and Neoliberal Governmentality in Greece and Beyond, Dimitra Kotouza
Chapter 11: Suffocation and the Logic of Immunopolitics, Benoît Dillet
Hannah Richter should be congratulated on gathering such a rich collection of research, analysing the biopolitical mechanisms of racialisation and gender/sexual normalisation and their specific operational logics. This is a major contribution to Foucauldian scholarship, with contemporary explorations of how both governmental and resistant power are produced at the bodily intersection of race, sex, gender, economic value and citizenship status.
A theoretically sophisticated and empirically original text. Its authors argue with and beyond Foucault on both counts. Most especially useful is the way the text covers the areas that Foucault, and others, have been most criticised for neglecting. Populations and bodies are not what they used to be. Richter and her contributors take biopolitical analysis into a new age.
By testing the limits of the notion of population, this collection of essays shows that Foucault’s biopolitics continues to inspire original research. Gender, race and economy are constitutive elements of biopolitical governance, but they also produce unpredictable assemblages that a unified understanding of population does not capture. An exciting reading for both supporters and opposers of Foucault’s biopolitics.
Richter and colleagues provide a timely engagement with the often-forgotten problem of embodied governmental production. By creatively challenging the continuous, if normalised, splitting of the two bodies of governmental power, they offer a fresh perspective from which to think about the politically productive body of the governed. Their work pushes the problem of the valuation of life two steps further.
Hannah Richter is Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, as well as PhD Candidate in Political and Social Thought at the University of Kent, UK.