Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 10

Search results for: biopolitics

10 Biopolitics and Race in the Age of a Global Pandemic: Interactions and Transformations

Authors: Aistis ZekevicIus

Abstract:

Biopolitical theory, which was first developed by Michel Foucault, takes into consideration the administration of life by implying a style of government based on the regulation of populations as its subject. The intensification of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and popular outcries against racial discrimination in the US health system have prompted us to reconsider the relationship between biopolitics and race in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on works by Foucault, Achille Mbembe and Nicholas Mirzoeff that transcend the boundaries of poststructuralism, critical theory and postcolonial studies, the paper suggests that the global pandemic has highlighted new aspects of the interplay between biopower and race by encouraging the search for scapegoats, deepening the structural racial inequality, and thus producing necropolitical regimes of exclusion.

Keywords: biopolitics, biopower, necropolitics, pandemic, race

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9 Representation of Agamben's Concept of 'Homo Sacer': Interpretative Analysis in Turkish TV Series Based on Turkey's 1980 Military Coup

Authors: Oyku Yenen

Abstract:

The notion of biopolitics, as studied by such intellectuals as Foucault, Agamben, and Negri, is an important guide for comprehending the current understanding of politics. While Foucault evaluates biopolitics as a survival policy, Giorgio Agamben, German legist, identifies the theory with death. Agamben claims the fact we can all considered to be homo sacer who are abandoned by the law, left in the field of exception, and whose killing does not require punishment. Agamben defines the person who is tried by the public for committing a crime but is not allowed to be sacrificed and whose killing is not considered a crime, as 'homo sacer'. This study analyzes how the concept of 'homo sacer' is made visible in TV series such as Çemberimde Gül Oya (Cagan Irmak, 2005-2005), Hatırla Sevgili (Ummu Burhan, 2006-2008), Bu Kalp Seni Unutur Mu? (Aydin Bulut, 2009-1010) all of which portray the period Turkey's 1980 military coup, within the framework of Agamben's thoughts and notions about biopolitics. When the main plots of these abovementioned TV series, which constitute the universe of this study, are scrutinized closely, they lay out the understanding of politics that has existed throughout history and prevails today. Although there is a large number of TV series on the coup of 1980, these three series are the only main productions that specifically focused on the event itself. Our final analysis will reveal that the concepts of homo sacer, bare life, exception, camp have been embodied in different ways in these three series. In these three series, which all deal with similar subjects using differing perspectives, the dominant understanding of politics is clearly conveyed to the audience. In all three series, the reigning power always decides on the exceptions, those who will live, those who will die, and those who will be ignored by law. Such characters as Mehmet, Sinan, Yıldız, Deniz, Defne, all of which we come across in these series, are on trial as a criminals of thought and are subjected to various forms of torture while isolated in an area where they are virtually deprived of law. Their citizenship rights are revoked. All of them are left alone with their bare lives (zoe).

Keywords: bare life, biopolitics, homo sacer, sovereign power, state of exception

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8 Foucault and Governmentality: International Organizations and State Power

Authors: Sara Dragisic

Abstract:

Using the theoretical analysis of the birth of biopolitics that Foucault performed through the history of liberalism and neoliberalism, in this paper we will try to show how, precisely through problematizing the role of international institutions, the model of governance differs from previous ways of objectifying body and life. Are the state and its mechanisms still a Leviathan to fight against, or can it be even the driver of resistance against the proponents of modern governance and the biopolitical power? Do paradigmatic examples of biopolitics still appear through sovereignty and (international) law, or is it precisely this sphere that shows a significant dose of incompetence and powerlessness in relation to, not only the economic sphere (Foucault’s critique of neoliberalism) but also the new politics of freedom? Have the struggle for freedom and human rights, as well as the war on terrorism, opened a new spectrum of biopolitical processes, which are manifested precisely through new international institutions and humanitarian discourse? We will try to answer these questions, in the following way. On the one hand, we will show that the views of authors such as Agamben and Hardt and Negri, in whom the state and sovereignty are seen as enemies to be defeated or overcome, fail to see how such attempts could translate into the politicization of life like it is done in many examples through the doctrine of liberal interventionism and humanitarianism. On the other hand, we will point out that it is precisely the humanitarian discourse and the defense of the right to intervention that can be the incentive and basis for the politicization of the category of life and lead to the selective application of human rights. Zizek example of the killing of United Nations workers and doctors in a village during the Vietnam War, who were targeted even before police or soldiers, because they were precisely seen as a powerful instrument of American imperialism (as they were sincerely trying to help the population), will be focus of this part of the analysis. We’ll ask the question whether such interpretation is a kind of liquidation of the extreme left of the political (Laclau) or on this basis can be explained at least in part the need to review the functioning of international organizations, ranging from those dealing with humanitarian aid (and humanitarian military interventions) to those dealing with protection and the security of the population, primarily from growing terrorism. Based on the above examples, we will also explain how the discourse of terrorism itself plays a dual role: it can appear as a tool of liberal biopolitics, although, more superficially, it mostly appears as an enemy that wants to destroy the liberal system and its values. This brings us to the basic problem that this paper will tackle: do the mechanisms of institutional struggle for human rights and freedoms, which is often seen as opposed to the security mechanisms of the state, serve the governance of citizens in such a way that the latter themselves participate in producing biopolitical governmental practices? Is the freedom today "nothing but the correlative development of apparatuses of security" (Foucault)? Or, we can continue this line of Foucault’s argumentation and enhance the interpretation with the important question of what precisely today reflects the change in the rationality of governance in which society is transformed from a passive object into a subject of its own production. Finally, in order to understand the skills of biopolitical governance in modern civil society, it is necessary to pay attention to the status of international organizations, which seem to have become a significant place for the implementation of global governance. In this sense, the power of sovereignty can turn out to be an insufficiently strong power of security policy, which can go hand in hand with freedom policies, through neoliberal governmental techniques.

Keywords: neoliberalism, Foucault, sovereignty, biopolitics, international organizations, NGOs, Agamben, Hardt&Negri, Zizek, security, state power

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7 Believing in a Just-World: The Neoliberal Rationality and the Everyday Legitimation of Social Inequality

Authors: Mónica Catarina Soares

Abstract:

Neoliberal rationality is currently changing the ways concepts like freedom or equality are framed. As an omnipresent and context-sensitive paradigm, homo oeconomicus is continuously taking place in realms of life previously insulated from economic and market-driven principles. This presentation is based on the argument that, more than ever, this paradigm is nowadays framing institutional and everyday discourses in regard to social problems. Although neoliberal rationality is based on the putative ideological basis that everyone is equal, equality seems to be reshaped by specific meanings apprehended by this rationality. In this sense, an illusion of equality seems to be relevant to legitimize different social inequalities (e.g., access to health care or to habitation). Political psychology has studied how ideology is relevant to legitimize market and unequal systems, but still the specific relation between markets, (in)equality and neoliberal languages is not widely addressed. The goal is to discuss the smithereens of the neoliberal rationality when it comes to legitimizing social inequalities by contesting the arguments of meritocracy, progressive freedom and minimal guarantees obeying to market-rules and principles. This analysis can be helpful to grasp for instance the continuously dismantlement of the welfare-state in different countries of the global north and how it is turning the regulation/emancipation tension inside out. The ultimate goal is to contribute to the breaking up of a paradigm that is still too big to capture, too depoliticized and chameleonic to fully acknowledge the biopolitics of power that is helping to create it.

Keywords: discourses, legitimacy, neoliberal rationality, social inequality

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6 Precarious ID Cards - Studying Documentary Practices in India through the Lens of Internal Migration

Authors: Ambuja Raj

Abstract:

This research will attempt to understand how documents are materially indispensable civic artifacts for migrants in their encounters with the state. Documents such as ID cards are sites of mediation and bureaucratic manifestation which reveal the inherent dynamics of power between the state and a delocalized people. While ID cards allow the holder to retain a different identity and articulate their demands as a citizen, they at the same time transform subjects into ‘objects’ in the exercise of governmental power. The research is based on the study of internal migrants in India, who are ‘visible’ to the state through its host of ID documents such as the ‘Aadhaar card’, electoral IDs, Ration cards, and a variety of region-specific documents, without the possession of which, not only are they unable to access jobs, public goods and services, and accommodation, but are liable to exploitation from state forces and mediators. Through semi-structured interviews with social actors in the processes of documentation and welfare of migrants, as well as with settlements of migrants themselves located in the state of Kerala in India, the thesis will attempt to understand the salience of documentary practices in the lives of inter-state migrants who move within Indian states in the hope of bettering their economic conditions. The research will trace the material and evolving significance of ID cards in the tenacity of states dealing with these ‘illegible’ populations. It will try to bring theories of governmentality, biopolitics and Weberian bureaucracy into the migrant issue while critically grounding itself on secondary literature by scholars who have worked on South Asian ‘governments of paper’.

Keywords: migration, historiography of documents, anthropology of state, documentary practices

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5 Comparative Ethnography and Urban Health: A Multisite Study on Obesogenic Cities

Authors: Carlos Rios Llamas

Abstract:

Urban health challenges, like the obesity epidemic, need to be studied from a dialogue between different disciplines and geographical conditions. Public health uses quantitative analysis and local samples, but qualitative data and multisite analysis would help to better understand how obesity has become a health problem. In the last decades, obesity rates have increased in most of the countries, especially in the Western World. Concerned about the problem, the American Medical Association has recently voted obesity as a disease. Suddenly, a ‘war on obesity’ attracted scientists from different disciplines to explore various ways to control and even reverse the trends. Medical sciences have taken the advance with quantitative methodologies focused on individual behaviors. Only a few scientist have extended their studies to the environment where obesity is produced as social risk, and less of them have taken into consideration the political and cultural aspects. This paper presents a multisite ethnography in South Bronx, USA, La Courneuve, France, and Lomas del Sur, Mexico, where obesity rates are as relevant as urban degradation. The comparative ethnography offers a possibility to unveil the mechanisms producing health risks from the urban tissue. The analysis considers three main categories: 1) built environment and access to food and physical activity, 2) biocultural construction of the healthy body, 3) urban inequalities related to health and body size. Major findings from a comparative ethnography on obesogenic environments, refer to the anthropological values related to food and body image, as well as the multidimensional oppression expressed in fat people who live in stigmatized urban zones. At the end, obesity, like many other diseases, is the result of political and cultural constructions structured in urbanization processes.

Keywords: comparative ethnography, urban health, obesogenic cities, biopolitics

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4 Biopolitical Border Imagery during the European Migrant Crisis: A Comparative Discourse Analysis between Mediterranean Europe and the Balkans

Authors: Mira Kaneva

Abstract:

The ongoing migration crisis polemic opens up the debate to the ambivalent essence of borders due to both the legality and legitimacy of the displacement of vast masses of people across the European continent. In neoliberal terms, migration is seen as an economic opportunity, or, on the opposite, as a social disparity; in realist terms, it is regarded as a security threat that calls for mobilization; from a critical standpoint, it is a matter of discourse on democratic governance. This paper sets the objective of analyzing borders through the Foucauldian prism of biopolitics. It aims at defining the specifics of the management of the human body by producing both the irregular migrant as a subject (but prevalently as an object in the discourse) and the political subjectivity by exercising state power in repressive practices, including hate speech. The study relies on the conceptual framework of Bigo, Agamben, Huysmans, among others, and applies the methodology of qualitative comparative analysis between the cases of borders (fences, enclaves, camps and other forms of abnormal spatiality) in Italy, Spain, Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Bulgaria. The paper thus tries to throw light on these cross- and intra-regional contexts that share certain similarities and differences. It tries to argue that the governmentality of the masses of refugees and economic immigrants through the speech acts of their exclusion leads to a temporary populist backlash; a tentative finding is that the status-quo in terms of social and economic measures remains relatively balanced, whereas, values such as freedom, openness, and tolerance are consecutively marginalized.

Keywords: Balkans, biopolitical borders, cross- and intra-regional discourse analysis, irregular migration, Mediterranean Europe, securitization vs. humanitarianism

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3 Between the House and the City: An Investigation of the Structure of the Family/Society and the Role of the Public Housing in Tokyo and Berlin

Authors: Abudjana Babiker

Abstract:

The middle of twenty century witnessed an explosion in public housing. After the great depression, some of the capitalists and communist countries have launched policies and programs to produce public housing in the urban areas. Concurrently, modernity was the leading architecture style at the time excessively supported the production, and principally was the instrument for the success of the public housing program due to the modernism manifesto for manufactured architecture as an international style that serves the society and parallelly connect it to the other design industries which allowed for the production of the architecture elements. After the second world war, public housing flourished, especially in communist’s countries. The idea of public housing was conceived as living spaces at the time, while the Workplaces performed as the place for production and labor. Michel Foucault - At the end of the twenty century- the introduction of biopolitics has had highlighted the alteration in the production and labor inter-function. The house does not precisely perform as the sanctuary, from the production, for the family, it opens the house to be -part of the city as- a space for production, not only to produce objects but to reproduce the family as a total part of the production mechanism in the city. While the public housing kept altering from one country to another after the failure of the modernist’s public housing in the late 1970s, the society continued changing parallelly with the socio-economic condition in each political-economical system, and the public housing thus followed. The family structure in the major cities has been dramatically changing, single parenting and the long working hours, for instance, have been escalating the loneliness in the major cities such as London, Berlin, and Tokyo and the public housing for the families is no longer suits the single lifestyle for the individuals. This Paper investigates the performance of both the single/individual lifestyle and the family/society structure in Tokyo and Berlin in a relation to the utilization of public housing under economical policies and the socio-political environment that produced the individuals and the collective. The study is carried through the study of the undercurrent individual/society and case studies to examine the performance of the utilization of the housing. The major finding is that the individual/collective are revolving around the city; the city identified and acts as a system that magnetized and blurred the line between production and reproduction lifestyle. The mass public housing for families is shifting to be a combination between neo-liberalism and socialism housing.

Keywords: loneliness, production reproduction, work live, publichousing

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2 The Burmese Exodus of 1942: Towards Evolving Policy Protocols for a Refugee Archive

Authors: Vinod Balakrishnan, Chrisalice Ela Joseph

Abstract:

The Burmese Exodus of 1942, which left more than 4 lakh as refugees and thousands dead, is one of the worst forced migrations in recorded history. Adding to the woes of the refugees is the lack of credible documentation of their lived experiences, trauma, and stories and their erasure from recorded history. Media reports, national records, and mainstream narratives that have registered the exodus provide sanitized versions which have reduced the refugees to a nameless, faceless mass of travelers and obliterated their lived experiences, trauma, and sufferings. This attitudinal problem compels the need to stem the insensitivity that accompanies institutional memory by making a case for a more humanistically evolved policy that puts in place protocols for the way the humanities would voice the concern for the refugee. A definite step in this direction and a far more relevant project in our times is the need to build a comprehensive refugee archive that can be a repository of the refugee experiences and perspectives. The paper draws on Hannah Arendt’s position on the Jewish refugee crisis, Agamben’s work on statelessness and citizenship, Foucault’s notion of governmentality and biopolitics, Edward Said’s concepts on Exile, Fanon’s work on the dispossessed, Derrida’s work on ‘the foreigner and hospitality’ in order to conceptualize the refugee condition which will form the theoretical framework for the paper. It also refers to the existing scholarship in the field of refugee studies such as Roger Zetter’s work on the ‘refugee label’, Philip Marfleet’s work on ‘refugees and history’, Lisa Malkki’s research on the anthropological discourse of the refugee and refugee studies. The paper is also informed by the work that has been done by the international organizations to address the refugee crisis. The emphasis is on building a strong argument for the establishment of the refugee archive that finds but a passing and a none too convincing reference in refugee studies in order to enable a multi-dimensional understanding of the refugee crisis. Some of the old questions cannot be dismissed as outdated as the continuing travails of the refugees in different parts of the world only remind us that they are still, largely, unanswered. The questions are -What is the nature of a Refugee Archive? How is it different from the existing historical and political archives? What are the implications of the refugee archive? What is its contribution to refugee studies? The paper draws on Diana Taylor’s concept of the archive and the repertoire to theorize the refugee archive as a repository that has the documentary function of the ‘archive’ and the ‘agency’ function of the repertoire. It then reads Ayya’s Accounts- a memoir by Anand Pandian -in the light of Hannah Arendt’s concepts of the ‘refugee as vanguard’ and ‘story telling as political action’- to illustrate how the memoir contributes to the refugee archive that provides the refugee a place and agency in history. The paper argues for a refugee archive that has implications for the formulation of inclusive refugee policies.

Keywords: Ayya’s Accounts, Burmese Exodus, policy protocol, refugee archive

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1 From Forked Tongues to Tinkerbell Ears: Rethinking the Criminalization of Alternative Body Modification in the UK

Authors: Luci V. Hyett

Abstract:

The criminal law of England and Wales currently deems that a person cannot consent to the infliction of injury upon their own body, where the level of harm is considered to be Actual or Grevious. This renders the defence of consent of the victim as being unavailable to those persons carrying out an Alternative Body Modification procedure. However, the criminalization of consensual injury is more appropriately deemed as being categorized as an offense against public morality and not one against the person, which renders the State’s involvement in the autonomous choices of a consenting adult, when determining what can be done to one’s own body, an arbitrary one. Furthermore, to recognise in law that a person is capable of giving a valid consent to socially acceptable cosmetic interventions that largely consist of procedures designed to aesthetically please men and, not those of people who want to modify their bodies for other reasons means that patriarchal attitudes are continuing to underpin public repulsion and inhibit social acceptance of such practices. Theoretical analysis will begin with a juridical examination of R v M(B) [2019] QB 1 where the High Court determined that Alternative Body Modification was not a special category exempting a person so performing from liability for Grevious Bodily Harm using the defence of consent. It will draw from its reasoning which considered that ‘the removal of body parts were medical procedures being carried out for no medical reason by someone not qualified to carry them out’ which will form the basis of this enquiry. It will consider the philosophical work of Georgio Agamben when analysing whether the biopolitical climate in the UK, which places the optimization of the perfect, healthy body at the centre of political concern can explain why those persons who wish to engage in Alternative Body Modification are treated as the ‘Exception’ to that which is normal using the ‘no medical reason’ canon to justify criminalisation, rather than legitimising the industry through regulation. It will consider, through a feminist lens, the current conflict in law between traditional cosmetic interventions which alter one’s physical appearance for socially accepted aesthetic purposes such as those to the breast, lip and buttock and, modifications described as more outlandish such as earlobe stretching, tooth filing and transdermal implants to create horns and spikes under the skin. It will assert that ethical principles relating to the psychological impact of body modification described as ‘alternative’ is used as a means to exclude person’s seeking such a procedure from receiving safe and competent treatment via a registered cosmetic surgeon which leads to these increasingly popular surgery’s being performed in Tattoo parlours throughout the UK as an extension to other socially acceptable forms of self-modification such as piercings. It will contend that only by ‘inclusive exclusion’ will those ‘othered’ through ostracisation be welcomed into the fold of normality and this can only be achieved through recognition of alternative body modification as a legitimate cosmetic intervention, subject to the same regulatory framework as existing practice. This would assist in refocusing the political landscape by erring on the side of liberty rather than that of biology.

Keywords: biopolitics, body modification, consent, criminal law

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