This class will introduce and clarify the contemporary buzz around the notions of biopower and biopolitics - the political power and the power of biotechnologies on the 'forms of life' (from the scale of biology to the scale of social subjectivities and sexual behaviors) as introduced first by Foucault in History of Sexuality
and then rearticulated in the last decades by Agamben, Negri, Esposito (and others). Additionally, we will ask what are different forms of bio-resistance?
It would begin with a discussion of Bíos: Biopolitics and Philosophy
by Roberto Esposito. In Bíos
, Esposito outlines an affirmative biopolitics that applies the immunisation paradigm (taken from biology via Donna Haraway) to the radical transformation of the political into biopolitics. Esposito both builds off of Foucault and breaks from his contemporaries, such as Negri and Agamben, in a number of important ways so having some background in these philosophers would be helpful. That being said, Timothy Campbell's introduction to Bíos
does a good job of situating Esposito's project and can provide a background for those less familiar with the notion of biopolitics and biopower. As a critique of Esposito's positions a text by Judith Revel "Identity, Nature, Life" can be taken as a reading companion.
Subsequent sessions will go on to explore further conceptions like community, immunity, biopolitical production, technologies of the self/body, biotechnology and bioinformatics and so on. A Berlin based research group, Lebensformen
, has created a bibliography
that can provide a framework for further exploration depending on the interest and desire of the class.
Additionally, Roberto Esposito, Judith Revel and the queer philosopher Beatriz Preciado will be in Berlin for a conference organised by Transmediale (see the Lebensformen
website for more information) in the early February 2011.