How the Powers That Be Make Us Do What They Want
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Aylan, Isis, Begum, Grenfell, Trump. Harambe, Guantanamo, Syria, Brexit, Johnson. Covid, migrants, trolling, George Floyd, Trump.
Gazing over the fractured, contested territories of the current global situation, Watkin finds that all these diverse happenings have one element in common. They occur when biopolitical states, in trying to manage and protect the life rights of their citizens, habitually end up committing acts coercion or disregard against the very people they have promised to protect. When states tasked with making us live, find themselves letting us die, then they are practitioners of a particular kind of force that Watkin calls bioviolence.
This book explores and exposes the many aspects of contemporary biopower and bioviolence: neglect, exclusion, surveillance, regulation, encampment, trolling, fake news, terrorism and war. As it does so it demonstrates that the very term ‘violence’ is a discursive construct, an effect of language, made real by our behaviours, embodied by our institutions, and dissemination by our technologies. In short, bioviolence is how the contemporary powers that be make us do what they want.
Resolutely inter-disciplinary, this book is suitable for all scholars, students and general readers in the fields of IR, political theory, philosophy, the humanities, sociology and journalism.
Table of Contents
Preface - Long Hard Read: The Grenfell Tower Murders
Introduction: Michel Foucault, Biopolitics and the Abolition of Violence
Part One: Regulatory Bioviolence
Chapter 1 – Aylan Kurdi and the Index of Responsibility
Chapter 2 – The Construction of Life: Specie-fication, Race War and Immunitas
Chapter 3 – Rise of the Paedophobes! Or the Coercive Power of Norms, Regulation, Population and Massification in the Case of Migrant Children
Chapter 4 – Death on the Beaches: Bioviolence Defined
Part Two: Humanimals and Bare life
Chapter 5 – #Harambe, and the Construction of Life
Chapter 6 – Humanimals and the Abolition of Life
Part Three: Decapitation and the Digital Caliphate
Chapter 7 – ISIS and the Art of Decapitation
Chapter 8 – Biohistory: The Human, The Head, The Tool, The Cut and The Tribe
Part Four: The Global Camp
Chapter 9 – Days of Raqqa and the Bethnal Green Girls
Chapter 10 – Shamima Begum, our Femina Sacra
Chapter 11 – Reading Guantanamo or Camp as Coercion
Part Five: 2020, I can’t breathe
Chapter 12 – George Floyd and #BlackLivesmatter: Thoughts on the Concrete Plantation
Chapter 13 – Herd Immunities: Covid and Coercion
Conclusion: Apologia for a Theory of Political Acéphalism
William Watkin is Professor of Contemporary Philosophy and Literature at Brunel University. He is the author of numerous books including In the Process of Poetry: The New York School and the Avant-Garde, On Mourning, The Literary Agamben and Agamben and Indifference. His most recent work, Badiou and Indifferent Being is the first of two volumes looking at Badiou’s Being and Event project. The second, Badiou and Communicable Worlds is out in 2020. He is currently working on a study of a philosophy of indifference called, simply, Indifference, and a follow-up to Bioviolence called Anti-Social Media: How big tech makes us do what it wants.