Biotheory : Life and Death under Capitalism book cover
1st Edition

Life and Death under Capitalism

ISBN 9781032238869
Published December 13, 2021 by Routledge
288 Pages

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Book Description

Forged at the intersection of intense interest in the pertinence and uses of biopolitics and biopower, this volume analyzes theoretical and practical paradigms for understanding and challenging the socioeconomic determinations of life and death in contemporary capitalism. Its contributors offer a series of trenchant interdisciplinary critiques, each one taking on both the specific dimensions of biopolitics and the deeper genealogies of cultural logic and structure that crucially inform its impress. New ways to think about biopolitics as an explanatory model are offered, and the subject of bios (life, ways of life) itself is taken into innovative theoretical possibilities. On the one hand, biopolitics is addressed in terms of its contributions to forms and divisions of knowledge; on the other, its capacity for reformulation is assessed before the most pressing concerns of contemporary living. It is a must read for anyone concerned with the study of bios in its theoretical profusions.

Table of Contents

Biotheory: An Introduction

Jeffrey R. Di Leo and Peter Hitchcock

Part 1 "Bios" in the Derrida-Foucault-Agamben Debate

1 Against Agamben: Or Living your Life, Zoe versus Bios in the Late Foucault

Paul Allen Miller

2 Between Deconstruction and Archaeology: The Derrida-Foucault Debate from

the "Classical Age" to "Biopower"

Jeffrey S. Librett

3 Bio-inscriptionality: The Eternal Return and Reproduction in Derrida’s Life/Death Seminar

Kir Kuiken

4 Borderline Animal: Reflections On Derrida’s Hedgehog

Brian O’Keeffe

5 Immunizing Life: Derrida, Esposito, and Mbembe

Zahi Zalloua

Part 2 Bio-materialities and Bio-revolution

6 Biopolitics and/as Infrastructure

Christopher Breu

7 Materiality in a Disenchanted Age

Nicole Simek

8 Earth, Life, Plasticity: Biopolitics, the Anthropocene, and the Problem of Form

Christian P. Haines

9 Bare Life at Sea (The Leper and the Plague)

Megan C. MacDonald

10 Late Capitalism on Vinyl: Neoliberalism, Biopolitics, and Music

Jeffrey R. Di Leo

11 "Uno Mas": Transnational Biopolitical Labor Exploitation and Resistance

in Mining Communities of the Mexico/U.S. Border Region

Ericka Wills

12 Biometrics and Revolution

Peter Hitchcock

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Peter Hitchcock is Professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center and Baruch College of the City University of New York. He is also on the faculty of Women’s Studies and Film Studies at the Graduate Center. He is the Associate Director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics at the Graduate Center.

Jeffrey R. Di Leo is Professor of English and Philosophy and Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Houston-Victoria, USA. He is Editor of the American Book Review, Founding Editor of the journal symploke, and Executive Director of the Society for Critical Exchange and its Winter Theory Institute.


"This is an essential collection of essays, both because the concept of biopolitics is so crucial for understanding the twenty-first century, and because the very sense of the biopolitical is as messy and fractured as our present. Ranging across a rich terrain of problems — how we might think about life in an era of climate chaos, the problem of theory’s abstraction in an age that only wants life, and the problem of life in a political milieu where so many lives do not matter — these essays mark out a series of lucid and original paths for the future. This is a coherent and diverse collection of essays that will be of value to anyone working in the humanities and social sciences." — Claire Colebrook, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English, Penn State University, USA

"Di Leo and Hitchcock’s Biotheory proves that theory and critique are not only alive and well but also kicking. Not afraid of taking on debates and tensions on and between established theorists of biopolitics, nor of testing these against problems and theories that have emerged more recently, they and their contributors speak also to the vibrant field of inquiries "beyond" biopolitics." — Frida Beckman, Professor of Comparative Literature, Stockholm University, Sweden

"In Biotheory: Life and Death Under Capitalism, Di Leo and Hitchcock have assembled a striking collection of readings whose clear intent is to disrupt a number of the principle assumptions many of us have been working under for years when reflecting on biopolitics. Biotheory asks us to push beyond our previous understanding of biopolitics and to let go of certainty around words like life, sovereignty, and politics. This is by no means easy, but the volume, framed by a wonderfully trenchant introduction, provides a road map for thinking biopolitics anew, creatively and radically." — Timothy C. Campbell, Professor of Italian Studies, Cornell University, USA