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Report Thread starter 6 months ago
Hi all, i'm wondering if anyone has ever read Michel Foucault's work 'Society must be defended', in particular the final chapter. -https://pdflibrary.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/foucault_soc_defended.pdf

He explains the shift in the 'right' to life and death, and how the sovereigns power changes dramatically towards the 19th century. He discusses how this change can be labelled as 'Biopolitics'.
Foucault describes how racism becomes important to Biopolitics, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Could anyone shed some light on this claim? Any help would be much appreciated.
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Report 6 months ago
I've not read any Foucault at all, but I'm bumping it so it might be seen by someone that has.
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Report 2 months ago
Hey, I've not read any Foucault in a little while, but I did spend a whole semester reading him at one point, he's super confusing I know. I personally struggled a lot with French and German philosophers and often wondered whether there was something lost in translation.

My understanding of biopolitics though, is that the body becomes important to politics, at its most basic. Worth noting though, that this isn't always negative, the NHS for example could be considered a form of biopolitics that benefits most people.

In terms of race, maybe think about racial profiling at airports and things like that, or political policies that aren't overtly racist as such, but disproportionately affect people of colour in a negative way, or where race is used divisively. Giorgio Agamben http://www.press.uchicago.edu/misc/chicago/009254.html says that basically race is important to biopolitics because it helps to create an "other" to position certain groups as what he calls "bare life" or life that can be taken without guilt. Arguably you could apply that to race relations in the states and police shootings of POC, or the forced sterilisations, largely carried out on women of colour. Some reports suggest this was going on until 2008. For me, that's probably the clearest example of a racist biopolitics, its directly stopping entire groups of women from having children on the basis of race.

You might also think about the way in which housing is structured, I'm pretty sure Foucault mentions this at some point but I can't for the life of me remember where. Basically, houses that are intended for the working classes are structured in such a way that they are small but highly visible- very few places to hide in a poor suburb. Here the state uses the individual bodies as a method for larger control. By controlling the house spaces that one group of people can use, you can control things like how many children they have, how easy it is to police them and so forth. It's basically like a huge panopticon.

I'm really sorry if this has come too late for you!

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