Browsing by Subject "biopolitics"

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  • Prozorov, Sergei (Edinburgh University Press, 2014)
    Thinking Politics
  • Prozorov, Sergei (Edinburgh University Press, 2016)
    Critical Connections
  • Prozorov, Sergei (2014)
    The paper addresses Alain Badiou’s attempts to overcome the biopolitical tendency in contemporary Western societies by redefining politics as a ‘truth procedure’, transcending the mere existence of human beings and exposing them to the dimension of eternal truths. I argue that Badiou’s account of the formation of the ‘body of truth’ fails to break with the biopolitical logic and instead corresponds to Agamben’s definition of biopolitics in terms of the inclusive exclusion of bare life from the political order of ‘good life’. While Badiou’s claims to overcome biopolitics are problematic, his politics of truth nonetheless exemplifies a genuine alternative to the ‘democratic-materialist’ biopolitics that he criticizes. Through a reading of Badiou’s account of the generation of truths I demonstrate that the content of truths is neither arbitrary nor transcendent in relation to the bodies of human beings but rather affirms their ontological equality against every form of hierarchy or exclusion. Badiou’s ‘body of truth’ is thus nothing other than the living bodies themselves, plus the truth of their equality. Insofar as in this figure ‘good life’ and ‘mere life’ become indistinct, Badiou’s politics of truth accords with Agamben’s idea of affirmative biopolitics of a life inseparable from its form.
  • Kristensen, Kasper (Helsingfors universitet, 2013)
    Foucauldian concepts of bio-power and biopolitics are widely utilized in contemporary political philosophy. However, Foucault’s account of bio-power includes some ambivalence which has rendered these concepts of bio-power and biopolitics rather equivocal. Foucault elaborates these concepts and themes related to them in his books Discipline and Punish (1975) and History of Sexuality: An Introduction (1976), and also in his Collège de France-lectures held from 1975 to 1979. Through a detailed analysis of these works this research suggests that there are differences in Foucault’s account of bio-power. The aim of this thesis is to shed light to these differences, and consequently, clarify Foucault’s account of bio-power and biopolitics. This research is divided into two main sections. The first analyzes Foucault’s works of 1975-76. In those works Foucault investigates relations of power and knowledge through a framework of what he called the normalizing society. Foucault identifies two essential forms of power operating in the normalizing society: individualizing discipline and population targeting bio-power. Together they form a network of power relations that Foucault calls power over life. By this concept Foucault designates the process by which human life in its totality became an object of power and knowledge. In this framework bio-power and biopolitics are essentially connected to particular system of norms which creates its power effects through medicine, human sciences and laws and regulations. The two pivotal reference points for normalizing techniques are race and sexuality. The second section focuses on Foucault’s lectures of 1977-79 and his other works published approximately until 1982.In these works Foucault elaborates the subject of governing population from different angle and with novel concepts. He abandons the view according to which one could locate a uniform architecture of power operating in society. Rather, he begins to analyze society as being constituted by multiple different forms of power and political rationalities. The crucial research question is what kinds of modifications take place in techniques of government when relations of power and knowledge are changed. In these investigations bio-power and biopolitics are identified with liberal apparatuses of security and pastoral power. The conclusions deduced in this thesis are that Foucault’s preliminary analysis of bio-power in the context of normalizing society is not sufficient to produce a firm analytical ground for concepts of bio-power and biopolitics. However, in his later elaborations of these concepts Foucault manages to demonstrate how political rationalities and different forms of power are related to the ways in which human life is governed and modified. Thus Foucault succeeds in creating analytical tools by which to have better understanding through what kinds of rationalities human life is managed in contemporary societies.
  • Tamminen, Sakari; Deibel, Eric (Routledge, 2018)
    This book addresses the unprecedented convergence between the digital and the corporeal in the life sciences and turns to Foucault’s biopolitics in order to understand how life is being turned into a technological object. It examines a wide range of bioscientific knowledge practices that allow life to be known through codes that can be shared (copied), owned (claimed, and managed) and optimised (remade through codes based on standard language and biotech engineering visions). The book’s approach is captured in the title, which refers to 'the biopolitical'. The authors argue that through discussions of political theories of sovereignty and related geopolitical conceptions of nature and society, we can understand how crucially important it is that life is constantly unsettling and disrupting the established and familiar ordering of the material world and the related ways of thinking and acting politically. The biopolitical dynamics involved are conceptualised as the 'metacode of life', which refers to the shifting configurations of living materiality and the merging of conventional boundaries between the natural and artificial, the living and non-living. The result is a globalising world in which the need for an alternative has become a core part of its political and legal instability, and the authors identify a number of possible alternative platforms to understand life and the living as framed by the 'metacodes' of life. This book will appeal to scholars of science and technology studies, as well as scholars of the sociology, philosophy, and anthropology of science, who are seeking to understand social and technical heterogeneity as a characteristic of the life sciences.
  • Suuronen, Ville (2018)
    Hannah Arendt's support for the right to have rights arises as a critical response to the modern biopolitical human condition. While Arendt's reflections on human rights have received broad recognition, the question concerning the economic preconditions of citizenship in her work remains an unduly neglected subject. This article takes up this issue and argues that, for Arendt, the fulfillment of basic social rights is the sine qua non without which the fulfillment of political rights is impossible. Thinking with and against Arendt, I show that her famous distinction between the private, the social, and the political can be fruitfully reinterpreted as an argument for basic income. When Arendt's reflections on human rights are read in the light of her ideas concerning technology and automation, she no longer appears as a theorist who ignores social justice, but as a thinker who seeks to counter the modern biopolitical human condition and open up new realms for democratic political action. Instead of ignoring social questions, Arendt argues that with the help of technology, we can strive to politicize fundamental social questions in a way that they would achieve a self-evident stature as human rights, and as fundamental human rights, rise above political debate, even though we would remain conscious of their political origins. Arendt does not simply exclude the social questions from politics but argues that this is what all technologically developed societies can strive to do. In Arendt's futuristic vision, the private life of citizens will be politicized through technological intervention: ancient slaves will be replaced by machines. By comparing Arendt with Foucault and Agamben, I maintain that a critical reading of her work can provide us with a pathway toward understanding the right to life's basic necessities, to zoe, as a future human right.
  • Summanen, Eetu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    This master’s thesis examines the role of health technology as part of biopolitical governance and the emergence of self-tracking as a tool of biopolitical control at a time when the development of technology and its ability to measure diverse information about the human body appears to be still accelerating. The fact that self-tracking devices are becoming smaller and less noticeable seems to be making it easier and more effortless to implement them into one’s life. The aim of this thesis is to increase the understanding about how significant factor health technology seems to be in the transmission of biopolitics to the lives of citizens. The hypothesis for the thesis is that the self-tracking that is happening through health technological devices is part of the strategies of states biopolitics and is used as a tool for remote control of citizens’ lives and bodies. The theoretical framework is based on Michel Foucault’s work that has led to the birth and definitions of the concepts governance and governmentality as well as to the birth of the modern concept of biopolitics. It was important to pay attention to the fundamentalities and development of the modern governmentalities and especially to the key elements of the neoliberal one. The theoretical framework of the thesis also included the definition of the term self-tracking, focusing especially on its emergence and nature in relation to modern society. In addition to this, the idea of a more responsible person created by health consciousness also served as a theoretical starting point for the thesis. Research material for the thesis included Finnish state social and health policy documents and interviews done with individuals that were using a health technological device. The aim of the analysis of the documents was to outline the Finnish state's goals in managing the population and the expectations placed on its citizens. The aim of the interviews was to increase understanding of the impact of self-tracking on the lives of individuals and whether factors in the use of the device reflected to the factors in state’s biopolitical goals and societal norms. The interviews followed the style of a semi-structured thematic interview, and the analyses of the material were performed according to the data-driven analysis models of the qualitative research methods. Based on the analysis of the Finnish state's social and health policy documents, state wants citizens to participate more in society. They are also expected to maintain their well-being and develop their skills in working life for being able to pursue longer careers during their lifetimes. Citizens are expected to take more responsibility for their own lives and to be more resilient to changes in working life. The Finnish state recognizes a healthier, well-being citizen as a more efficient member of society. All interviewees’ understanding and awareness of their health and well-being appeared to have improved as a result of self-tracking. The increase in health consciousness was supported by changes in the use of the device during the years of use. The usefulness and harmfulness of self-tracking, depending on whether the use is on a healthy or toxic basis, was also a strong emerging theme. Among the interviewees' ways of living and acting, the factors of the Finnish state's goals for governing the population could be found. Through the results of the thesis, a self-tracking individual can be seen in many ways as an individual resembling an ideal, neoliberal citizen. This was supported by the observation considering all interviewees about how they have become more aware of their own health and the functions of their bodies by measuring themselves, possessing more power to take care of their health through self-tracking. Perspectives on healthy and toxic self-tracking also described the potential of self-tracking on harnessing individuals to control themselves and to be more responsible. The ease in use of the devices also seemed to play a key role in how well biopolitical goals reached an individual’s life. In addition, the status symbolism formed by the physical nature of the devices also seemed to affect to the reach of biopolitical governing. From the point of view of the state's biopolitical goals, a self-tracking individual could be seen as a more ideal neoliberal citizen particularly in terms of the impact of increased health consciousness and responsibility.
  • Prozorov, Sergei (Edinburgh University Press, 2016)
    Western theories of biopolitics focus on its liberal and fascist rationalities. In opposition to this, Stalinism was oriented more towards transforming life in accordance with the communist ideal, and less towards protecting it. Sergei Prozorov reconstructs this rationality in the early Stalinist project of the Great Break (1928–32) and its subsequent modifications during High Stalinism. He then relocates the question of biopolitics down to the level of the subject, tracing the way the ‘new Soviet person’ was to be produced in governmental practices and the role that violence and terror would play in this construction.