Six Days of Foucault II: Biopolitics and Neo-liberalism

In Background Readings on October 29, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Nina Power's biopolitical diagram from the Infinite Thought blog

As numerous commentators have mentioned, it is somewhat odd that one of Foucault’s most influential concepts — biopower — is only referred to infrequently in his published works. Although many presumed that the publication of his seminar notes from the late 70s and early 80s would fill this gap, typically in these works Foucault raises the question of biopower in the present before turning toward earlier historical moments in which its tendencies seemed to first emerge or become prominent. In the seminars collected in Security, Territory, Population and The Birth of Biopolitics, the historical moment at issue is the formation of neo-liberalism. John Protevi has generously made available his sharp reading of why neo-liberalism poses important questions for Foucault and just how it connects to his work on biopower (“What Does Foucault Think is New about Neo-Liberalism?“). Bonus: look ahead to next week’s readings on autonomist thought by checking out Maurizio Lazzarato’s “Art, Work, and Politics in Disciplinary Societies and Societies of Security,” an argument for how labor, leisure, and aesthetics have changed under the regimes of power described by Foucault in Discipline & Punish versus Security, Territory, Population.


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