By C. Blencowe
An unique, entire interpretation of Michel Foucault's research of biopolitics – situating biopolitics within the context of embodied histories of subjectivity, affective investments and constructions of expertise. Going past lamentation on the horrors of biopolitical domination, the booklet develops a positive-critique of biopolitical event.
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Additional resources for Biopolitical Experience: Foucault, Power and Positive Critique
In The Order of Things Foucault sets out ‘an archaeology of the human sciences’: of philology, political economy and biology ( 1970). The study details the emergence of these three disciplines at the start of the nineteenth century in Europe, setting them in contrast to their ‘equivalent’ knowledges in the previous period. It is ‘an archaeology’, Foucault claims, because it is directed at some deep and forgotten, or unknown, level of scientific knowledge. Addressing three different human sciences at the same time, the archaeology is concerned with those ‘network[s] of analogies’ and ‘rules of formation’ of knowledge that are common to all three, relating these also to the philosophies of the time (1970:xi).
For both discipline and natural history, the establishment and exhibition of stable, fixed order is a key value. Technologies of knowledge and power include individuation, taxonomy and distribution in twodimensional axioms (that of the chart or of the factory floor). These techniques contribute to the creation of order as their objective and their means of validation. Both are addressed to a knowable, transparent, observable, orderable world – a world in which divinity (people’s and God’s) is present in the clarity of extensive order.
On the one hand ‘the biological’ in Foucault’s account is something much more specific than is that of the biology/culture couplet. Foucault is the archaeologist of modern biology, the science not of living bodies but of life, which has a specified point of emergence (in the work of Georges Cuvier) and exemplification (in that of Charles Darwin). When Foucault is talking about biology he is talking about the very specific ways of rationalising, observing and analysing that were developed within modern evolutionary biology and the domains of reality that it addressed (the world as formulated in bio-mentality).