Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

cisneyVernon W. Cisney and Nicolae Morar (Eds), Biopower: Foucault and Beyond, University of Chicago Press, 2015

Michel Foucault’s notion of “biopower” has been a highly fertile concept in recent theory, influencing thinkers worldwide across a variety of disciplines and concerns. In The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Foucault famously employed the term to describe “a power bent on generating forces, making them grow, and ordering them, rather than one dedicated to impeding them, making them submit, or destroying them.” With this volume, Vernon W. Cisney and Nicolae Morar bring together leading contemporary scholars to explore the many theoretical possibilities that the concept of biopower has enabled while at the same time pinpointing their most important shared resonances.

Situating biopower as a radical alternative to traditional conceptions of power—what Foucault called “sovereign power”—the contributors examine a host of matters centered on life, the body, and the subject as a living citizen. Altogether, they pay testament to the lasting relevance of biopower in some of our most important contemporary debates on issues ranging from health care rights to immigration laws, HIV prevention discourse, genomics medicine, and many other topics.

Biopower is a remarkable book. Although it contains essays written by the most important and well-known commentators on Foucault, it is really more than a study of Foucault’s concept of biopower. The majority of the essays expands, extends, and transforms the concept of biopower. Like all of the essays in the volume, the introduction written by Morar and Cisney is excellent. They are to be congratulated not only for organizing such an impressive volume, but guiding us through it with their analysis. This will be the definitive volume on biopower for decades to come.” (Leonard Lawlor, Penn State University)


Vernon W. Cisney and Nicolae Morar
Introduction: Why Biopower? Why Now?

Part I : Origins of Biopower

Judith Revel
One / The Literary Birth of Biopolitics (translated by Christopher Penfield)

Antonio Negri
Two / At the Origins of Biopolitics (translated by Diana Garvin)

Ian Hacking
Three / Biopower and the Avalanche of Printed Numbers

Catherine Mills
Four / Biopolitics and the Concept of Life

Paul Patton
Five / Power and Biopower in Foucault

Part II : The Question of Life

Mary Beth Mader
Six / Foucault, Cuvier, and the Science of Life

Jeff T. Nealon
Seven / The Archaeology of Biopower: From Plant to Animal Life in The Order of Things

Eduardo Mendieta
Eight / The Biotechnological Scala Naturae and Interspecies Cosmopolitanism: Patricia Piccinini, Jane Alexander, and Guillermo Gómez-Peña

Part III : Medicine and Sexuality: The Question of the Body

Carlos Novas
Nine / Patient Activism and Biopolitics: Thinking through Rare Diseases and Orphan Drugs

David M. Halperin
Ten / The Biopolitics of HIV Prevention Discourse

Jana Sawicki
Eleven / Precarious Life: Butler and Foucault on Biopolitics

Part IV : Neoliberalism and Governmentality: The Question of the Population

Todd May and Ladelle McWhorter
Twelve / Who’s Being Disciplined Now? Operations of Power in a Neoliberal World

Frédéric Gros
Thirteen / Is There a Biopolitical Subject? Foucault and the Birth of Biopolitics (translated by Samantha Bankston)

Martina Tazzioli
Fourteen / Discordant Practices of Freedom and Power of/over Lives: Three Snapshots on the Bank Effects of the Arab Uprisings

Part V : Biopower Today

Paul Rabinow and Nikolas Rose
Fifteen / Biopower Today

Ann Laura Stoler
Sixteen / A Colonial Reading of Foucault: Bourgeois Bodies and Racial Selves

Roberto Esposito
Seventeen / Totalitarianism and Biopolitics? Concerning a Philosophical Interpretation of the Twentieth Century (translated by Timothy Campbell)

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