The problematic of biopolitics has become increasingly important in the study of political science. Inspired by the pioneering research of Michel Foucault and subsequent studies in a variety of theoretical schools since the 1970s, political scientists have started addressing the rationalities of power that go beyond traditional sovereign-territorial logics and rather take the vital processes of the population as their object.
One of the main puzzles of the studies of biopolitics has been the relation between the positive and productive orientation of biopower and the negative power of exclusion and annihilation, which Foucault associated with sovereign power. The conversion of biopolitics into ‘thanatopolitics’ that annihilates the very life it was intended to protect was noted already in Foucault’s History of Sexuality I, but its full implications have been elaborated in the more recent works of Giorgio Agamben, Roberto Esposito and other authors who emphasize the inextricable link between biopolitics and its apparent oppositee. This paradox makes biopolitics the site where the fundamental questions of political theory pertaining e.g. to power, legitimacy and community, intersect with empirical inquiries into the governance of reproduction, health promotion, pandemics, torture, euthanasia and other issues.
The section follows the sections on biopolitics that we convened at the 10th General Conference in Prague in September 2016, the 11th General Conference in Oslo in September 2017 and the 12th General Conference in Hamburg in August 2018. All three sections were highly well-attended and made possible the formation of new research contacts and networks. The proposed section at the 13th ECPR conference in Wroclaw seeks to further develop these networks, bringing together scholars with diverse disciplinary backgrounds in order to address various aspects of biopolitics both theoretically and empirically in a variety of contexts.
Section Chairs’ Bio
Sergei Prozorov is Professor of Political Science at the Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. He is the author of eight monographs, the most recent being Democratic Biopolitics (forthcoming with Edinburgh University Press, February 2019). He has also published numerous articles on political theory and global politics in Political Theory, Political Studies, Security Dialogue, Theory, Culture and Society, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Political Geography and other international journals. He is the co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Biopolitics (2016).
Mika Ojakangas is Professor of Political Thought at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. He is the author of six books and over 80 articles, including On the Greek Origins of Biopolitics (Routledge, 2016) and The Voice of Conscience (Bloomsbury, 2013).