Foucault News

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

Yusoff, Kathryn. “Biopolitical Economies and the Political Aesthetics of Climate Change.” Theory, Culture & Society 27, no. 2–3 (March 2010): 73–99.

As environments and their inhabitants undergo a multitude of abrupt changes due to climate, in the aesthetic field there has been a hardening of a few representational figures that stand in for those contested political ecologies. Biodiversity loss and habitat change can be seen to be forcing an acceleration of archival practices that mobilize various images of the ‘play of the world’, including the making of star species to represent planetary loss, and the consolidation of other species into archives implicitly organized around the category of their destruction. The first section of this article looks at Jacques Rancière’s concept of political aesthetics in order to extend an argument about the importance of aesthetics in multispecies living beyond a concentration on practices per se and into a more excessive engagement articulated by Georges Bataille. I argue that aesthetics must be considered as part of the practice of politics and a space that configures the realm of what is possible in that politics. This is to suggest aesthetics as a form of ethics or an ‘aesthetics of existence’, as Foucault put it. The conclusion considers how a biopolitical aesthetic comes into being through such archival practices, and asks what aesthetic shifts would make the ‘play of the world’ more present in its absences.

aesthetics, animality, Georges Bataille, climate change, ethics, Jacques Rancière

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