Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 2

biopower Related Abstracts

2 Consolidating a Regime of State Terror: A Historical Analysis of Necropolitics and the Evolution of Policing Practices in California as a Former Colony, Frontier, and Late-Modern Settler Society

Authors: Peyton M. Provenzano


This paper draws primarily upon the framework of necropolitics and presents California as itself a former frontier, colony, and late-modern settler society. The convergence of these successive and overlapping regimes of state terror is actualized and traceable through an analysis of historical and contemporary police practices. At the behest of the Spanish Crown and with the assistance of the Spanish military, the Catholic Church led the original expedition to colonize California. The indigenous populations of California were subjected to brutal practices of confinement and enslavement at the missions. After the annex of California by the United States, the western-most territory became an infamous frontier where new settlers established vigilante militias to enact violence against indigenous populations to protect their newly stolen land. Early mining settlements sought to legitimize and fund vigilante violence by wielding the authority of rudimentary democratic structures. White settlers circulated petitions for funding to establish a volunteer company under California’s Militia Law for ‘protection’ against the local indigenous populations. The expansive carceral practices of Los Angelinos at the turn of the 19th century exemplify the way in which California solidified its regime of exclusion as a white settler society. Drawing on recent scholarship that queers the notion of biopower and names police as street-level sovereigns, the police murder of Kayla Moore is understood as the latest manifestation of a carceral regime of exclusion and genocide. Kayla Moore was an African American transgender woman living with a mental health disability that was murdered by Berkeley police responding to a mental health crisis call in 2013. The intersectionality of Kayla’s identity made her hyper-vulnerable to state-sanctioned violence. Kayla was a victim not only of the explicitly racial biopower of police, nor the regulatory state power of necropolitics but of the ‘asphyxia’ that was intended to invisibilize both her life and her murder.

Keywords: Police, Genocide, California, asphyxia, biopower, carceral state, necropolitics, police violence

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1 Changing the Biopower Hierarchy between Women’s Bodily Knowledge and the Medical Knowledge about the Body: The Case of Female Ejaculation and #Notpee

Authors: Lior B. Navon


The objective of this study is to investigate how technology, such as social media, can influence the biopower hierarchy between the medical knowledge about the body and women’s bodily knowledge through the case study of the hashtag 'notpee'. In January 2015, the hashtag #notpee, relating to a feminine physiological phenomenon called female ejaculation (FE) or squirting (SQ) started circulating on twitter. This hashtag, born as a reaction to a medical study claiming that SQ is essentially involuntary emission of urine during sexual activity, sparked an unusual public discourse about FE, a phenomenon that is usually not discussed or referred to in socio-legitimate public spheres. This unusual backlash got the attention of women’s magazines and blogs, as well as more mainstream large and respected outlets such as The Guardian and CNN. Both the tweets on twitter, as well as the media coverage of them, were mainly aimed at rejecting the research’s findings. While not offering an alternative and choosing to define the phenomenon by negation, women argued that the fluid extracted was not pee based on their personal experiences. Based on a critical discourse analysis of 742 tweets with the hashtag 'notpee' between January 2015 and January 2016, and of 15 articles covering the backlash, this study suggests that the #notpee backlash challenged the power balance between the medical knowledge about the feminine body and the feminine bodily knowledge through two different, yet related, forms of resistance to biopower. The first resistance is to the authority over knowledge production — who has the power to produce 'true' statements when it comes to the body? Is it the women who experience the phenomenon, or is it the medical institution? The second resistance to biopower has to do with what we regard as facts or veracity. A critical discourse analysis reveals that while both the scientific field, as well as the women arguing against its findings, use empirical information, they, nevertheless, rely on two dichotomic databases- while the scientific research relies on samples from the 'dead like body', these woman are relying on their lived subjective senses as a source for fact making. Nevertheless, while #notpee is asking to change the power relations between the feminine subjective bodily knowledge and the seemingly objective masculine medical knowledge about the body, it by no means dismisses it. These women are essentially asking the medical institution to take into consideration the subjective body as well as the objective one while acknowledging and accepting the power of the latter over knowledge production.

Keywords: New Media, bodily knowledge, biopower, female ejaculation

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