The Routledge Handbook of Biopolitics  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Biopolitics

ISBN 9780367462062
Published February 25, 2020 by Routledge
364 Pages

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Book Description

The problematic of biopolitics has become increasingly important in the social sciences. Inaugurated by Michel Foucault’s genealogical research on the governance of sexuality, crime and mental illness in modern Europe, the research on biopolitics has developed into a broader interdisciplinary orientation, addressing the rationalities of power over living beings in diverse spatial and temporal contexts.

The development of the research on biopolitics in recent years has been characterized by two tendencies: the increasingly sophisticated theoretical engagement with the idea of power over and the government of life that both elaborated and challenged the Foucauldian canon (e.g. the work of Giorgio Agamben, Antonio Negri, Roberto Esposito and Paolo Virno) and the detailed and empirically rich investigation of the concrete aspects of the government of life in contemporary societies. Unfortunately, the two tendencies have often developed in isolation from each other, resulting in the presence of at least two debates on biopolitics: the historico-philosophical and the empirical one. This Handbook brings these two debates together, combining theoretical sophistication and empirical rigour.

The volume is divided into five sections. While the first two deal with the history of the concept and contemporary theoretical debates on it, the remaining three comprise the prime sites of contemporary interdisciplinary research on biopolitics: economy, security and technology. Featuring previously unpublished articles by the leading scholars in the field, this wide-ranging and accessible companion will both serve as an introduction to the diverse research on biopolitics for undergraduate students and appeal to more advanced audiences interested in the current state of the art in biopolitics studies.

Table of Contents


Notes on Contributors


Simona Rentea

Section One. Biopolitics: History of the Concept

1. Biopolitics in the Political Thought of Classical Greece

Mika Ojakangas

2. ‘The Government of a Multitude’: Hobbes on Political Subjectification

Marco Piasentier and Davide Tarizzo

3. Nietzsche and Biopolitics: Four Readings of Nietzsche as a Biopolitical Thinker

Vanessa Lemm

4. Biopolitics Before Foucault: On Benjamin’s Critique of Bare Life and Agamben’s Theological Genealogy of the ‘Apparatus’

Boštjan Nedoh

Section Two. Contemporary Theoretical Controversies

5. Foucault, Biopolitics and Aesthetics

Lauri Siisiäinen

6. Biopolitics and Socialism: Foucault, Agamben, Esposito

Sergei Prozorov

7. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri on ‘Postmodern Biopolitics’

Thomas Lemke

8. Community, Life and Subjectivity in Italian Biopolitics

Miguel Vatter

9. Carl Schmitt, Giorgio Agamben and the ‘Nomos’ of Contemporary Political Life

Nick Vaughan-Williams

Section Three. Biopolitics and Economy

10. Gender Equality as Bioeconomic Governmentality in a Neoliberal EU

Jemima Repo

11. Nature Saved: From the Katechontic to the Eschatological in Contemporary Liberal Biopolitics

Simona Rentea

12. Cognitive Capitalism and the Governance of the Prefrontal Cortex

Warren Neidich

13. Bodies, Populations, Citizens: The Biopolitics of African Environmentalism

Carl Death

Section Four. Biopolitics and Security

14. The Biopolitics of European Border Security

Nick Vaughan-Williams

15. Biopolitics of the Global Governance of HIV/AIDS

Jaakko Ailio

16. The Biopolitics of Asylum Law in the United States

Ariadna Estévez

17. Beyond Biopolitics: Struggles over Nature

Lara Montesinos Coleman and Doerthe Rosenow

Section Five. Biopolitics and Technology

18. Biopolitics and Human Reproduction

Catherine Mills

19. Human Life Between Biology and Law in Germany

Ingrid Metzler

20. Genopolitics: Behavioural Genetics and the End of Politics

Martin G. Weiss

Conclusion: Whither Biopolitics?

Sergei Prozorov


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Sergei Prozorov is University Lecturer in Political Science at the Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland and Principal Investigator in the Academy of Finland project Biopolitics and Democracy in Global Governance.

Simona Rentea is Assistant Professor in International Relations at Saint Louis University, Madrid Campus, Spain. Her research addresses the biopolitical inflections of the current articulations of international order, the relationship between science and politics, and the role of emotions in politics.