Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 4

Search results for: biopower

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

Authors: Aistis ZekevicIus


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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3 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: biopower, female ejaculation, new media, bodily knowledge

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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: asphyxia, biopower, california, carceral state, genocide, necropolitics, police, police violence

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1 A Foucauldian Analysis of Postcolonial Hybridity in a Kuwaiti Novel

Authors: Annette Louise Dupont


Background and Introduction: Broadly defined, hybridity is a condition of racial and cultural ‘cross-pollination’ which arises as a result of contact between colonized and colonizer. It remains a highly contested concept in postcolonial studies as it is implicitly underpinned by colonial notions of ‘racial purity.’ While some postcolonial scholars argue that individuals exercise significant agency in the construction of their hybrid subjectivities, others underscore associated experiences of exclusion, marginalization, and alienation. Kuwait and the Philippines are among the most disparate of contemporary postcolonial states. While oil resources transformed the former British Mandate of Kuwait into one of the world’s richest countries, enduring poverty in the former US colony of the Philippines drives a global diaspora which produces multiple Filipino hybridities. Although more Filipinos work in the Arabian Gulf than in any other region of the world, scholarly and literary accounts of their experiences of hybridization in this region are relatively scarce when compared to those set in North America, Australia, Asia, and Europe. Study Aims and Significance: This paper aims to address this existing lacuna by investigating hybridity and other postcolonial themes in a novel by a Kuwaiti author which vividly portrays the lives of immigrants and citizens in Kuwait and which gives a rare voice and insight into the struggles of an Arab-Filipino and European-Filipina. Specifically, this paper explores the relationships between colonial discourses of ‘black’ and ‘white’ and postcolonial discourses pertaining to ‘brown’ Filipinos and ‘brown’ Arabs, in order to assess their impacts on the protagonists’ hybrid subjectivities. Methodology: Foucault’s notions of discourse not only provide a conceptual basis for analyzing the colonial ideology of Orientalism, but his theories related to the social exclusion of the ‘mad’ also elucidate the mechanisms by which power can operate to marginalize, alienate and subjectify the Other, therefore a Foucauldian lens is applied to the analysis of postcolonial themes and hybrid subjectivities portrayed in the novel. Findings: The study finds that Kuwaiti and Filipino discursive practices mirror those of former white colonialists and colonized black laborers and that these discursive practices combine with a former British colonial system of foreign labor sponsorship to create a form of governmentality in Kuwait which is based on exclusion and control. The novel’s rich social description and the reflections of the key protagonist and narrator suggest that such fiction has a significant role to play in highlighting the historical and cultural specificities of experiences of postcolonial hybridity in under-researched geographic, economic, social, and political settings. Whereas hybridity can appear abstract in scholarly accounts, the significance of literary accounts in which the lived experiences of hybrid protagonists are anchored to specific historical periods, places and discourses, is that contextual particularities are neither obscured nor dehistoricized. Conclusions: The application of Foucauldian theorizations of discourse, disciplinary, and biopower to the analysis of this Kuwaiti literary text serves to extend an understanding of the effects of contextually-specific discourses on hybrid Filipino subjectivities, as well as a knowledge of prevailing social dynamics in a little-researched postcolonial Arabian Gulf state.

Keywords: Filipino, Foucault, hybridity, Kuwait

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