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    Vassar College
  Jan 21, 2018
Catalogue 2017-2018
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POLI 276 - Biopolitics

Semester Offered: Fall
1 unit(s)
According to Michel Foucault, “biopolitics” designates modern states’ exercise of  ”positive power” to ensure the vitality of the population: for example, optimal birth and death rates, sanitary environments, public health, social insurance, and disease control. At the same time, he argues, biopolitics has ushered in unprecedented forms of violence, exclusion, and even death for groups and individuals who are cast-generally in racialized terms-as threats to the population. Biopolitics is now theorized toward a broad range of phenomena linking politics and life: from the global market in organs to new genomic sciences, technologies, and subjectivities to immigration, refugee, and humanitarian aid policies; from reproductive coercion and commodification to the policing of racialized and gender-transgressive bodies–as well as the radical potential of forms of life excluded from biopolitical norms. Texts for this course include Foucault’s writings and lectures, plus key antecedents (Carl Schmitt, Walter Benjamin, Georges Canguilhem) and conceptual engagements (e.g., Ann Laura Stoler, Giorgio Agamben, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Roberto Esposito, Ladelle McWhorter, Achille Mbembe, Nikolas Rose). Additional texts may include feminist, anti-racist, queer of color, post-colonial, disability studies, and post-Marxist analyses by Jasbir Puar, Mel Y. Chen, Margaret Lock, Elizabeth Povinelli, Susan Stryker, Alexander Weheliye, Melinda Cooper, Sara Ahmed, Fred Moten, and Dorothy Roberts, among others. Annie Menzel.

Two 75-minute periods.

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