Foucault News

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

Pele, Antonio, and Stephen Riley. “For a Right to Health Beyond Biopolitics: The Politics of Pandemic and the ‘Politics of Life.’” Law, Culture and the Humanities, (February 2021).
DOI: 10.1177/1743872120978201

Open access

Abstract
We argue, drawing on the work of Didier Fassin, that the right to health can be understood as an essential part of a radical politics of life. Since the right to health implies fostering the well-being of individuals in a way that is structural, progressive and non-discriminatory, the right not only problematises the ‘governmentality’ approach to power but allows push-back against statist and market discourses through a specific phenomenology of right. The discourse of rights – like the pandemic itself – oscillates between general and particular in a way that makes normative responses unstable. Nonetheless it is this dialectic that is characteristic of human rights discourse and allows a right to health to be the proper response to pandemic without it being subsumed within neoliberal logic. A politics of life is a multi-focussed analysis of life, health and society potentially resisting the appropriation of biological life by neoliberalism.

Keywords
Biopolitics, COVID-19, Fassin, Foucault, Health, Human Rights, Pandemic, Politics of Life

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