Development as biopolitics: food security and the contemporary Indian experience
(2017) Journal of Cultural Economy, pp. 1-12. Article in Press.
Development is concerned with the biological security and well-being of people, and so all development theory and practice are biopolitical in a fundamental sense. The paper argues that for development to be made meaningful, it needs to legitimate itself through the production of healthy bodies, which can be realized through food security, immunization drives, and housing schemes among others. A postcolonial democratic state like India makes an effort to protect its people from hunger and draws its legitimacy from the same. Yet at the same time, the supposed development of the nation implies a concurrent elision of the weak and the vulnerable. Drawing upon India’s experiment with food security, public distribution systems, and other similar schemes, the paper advances an idea of development that is not only inherently biopolitical, but also a compromise between the commitment to protect people from hunger and the need for working around international agencies. While doing so, the paper borrows from the theoretical vocabulary of Foucault, Agamben, and others to historicize the modernist idea of protecting citizens as well as the reality of deaths from hunger and development-induced displacement. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
biopolitics; Development; food security; India; state