A Reader


a John Hope Franklin Center Book

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Book Pages: 456 Illustrations: Published: December 2013

Cultural Studies, Politics > Political Theory, Sociology > Social Theory

This anthology collects the texts that defined the concept of biopolitics, which has become so significant throughout the humanities and social sciences today. The far-reaching influence of the biopolitical—the relation of politics to life, or the state to the body—is not surprising given its centrality to matters such as healthcare, abortion, immigration, and the global distribution of essential medicines and medical technologies.

Michel Foucault gave new and unprecedented meaning to the term "biopolitics" in his 1976 essay "Right of Death and Power over Life." In this anthology, that touchstone piece is followed by essays in which biopolitics is implicitly anticipated as a problem by Hannah Arendt and later altered, critiqued, deconstructed, and refined by major political and social theorists who explicitly engaged with Foucault's ideas. By focusing on the concept of biopolitics, rather than applying it to specific events and phenomena, this Reader provides an enduring framework for assessing the central problematics of modern political thought.

Contributors. Giorgio Agamben, Hannah Arendt, Alain Badiou, Timothy Campbell, Gilles Deleuze, Roberto Esposito, Michel Foucault, Donna Haraway, Michael Hardt, Achille Mbembe, Warren Montag, Antonio Negri, Jacques Rancière, Adam Sitze, Peter Sloterdijk, Paolo Virno, Slavoj Žižek


“[A]n essential resource for graduate students and those new to the topic of biopolitics as well as a useful tool for the few with specialist knowledge.” — Diana Stypinska, Sociological Review

“This is an indispensable collection, both for how it exposes the limits of Foucault’s thought and for the ways it illuminates the dark junctures of life and the sciences of Aristotle’s ‘master art’ politics.” — David W. Swain, Kritikon Litterarum

 "Biopolitics: A Reader provides a comprehensive overview of this diverse and multidisciplinary field. Editors Timothy Campbell and Adam Sitze demonstrate that biopolitics is not merely an academic fad, but rather, that it marks ‘the intersection, or perhaps reciprocal incorporation, of life and politics.’" — Jay Daniel Thompson, Somatechnics

“[A] comprehensive resource for newcomers, as well as those already familiar with biopolitics.” — Rosalind G. Williams, Political Studies Review

"This reader will be a landmark resource as scholarly engagement with biopolitics continues to expand in the coming years. It brings together in a single volume essential texts in the evolution of thinking about the biopolitical in the wake of the formative thought of Foucault and, later, Agamben. In addition, the selections are framed by a wonderfully nuanced and incisive introduction." — Cary Wolfe, author of Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in a Biopolitical Frame


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Timothy Campbell is Professor of Italian Studies and Chair of Romance Studies at Cornell University. He is the author of Wireless Writing in the Age of Marconi.

Adam Sitze is Assistant Professor of Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought at Amherst College. He is the author of The Impossible Machine: A Genealogy of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction. Biopolitics: An Encounter / Timothy Campbell and Adam Sitze 1

1. Right of Death and Power over Life / Michel Foucault 41

2. "Society Must Be Defended," Lecture at the Collége de France, March 17, 1976 / Michel Foucault 61

3. The Perplexities of the Rights of Man / Hannah Arendt 82

4. Selections from The Human Condition / Hannah Arendt 98

5. Introduction to Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life / Giorgio Agamben 134

6. The Politicization of Life / Giorgio Agamben 145

7. Biopolitics and the Rights of Man / Giorgio Agamben 152

8. Necropolitics / Achille Mbembe 161

9. Necro-economics: Adam Smith and Death in the Life of the Universal / Warren Montag 193

10. Biopolitical Production / Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri 215

11. Biopolitics as Event / Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri 237

12. Labor, Action, Intellect / Paolo Virno 245

13. An Equivocal Concept: Biopolitics / Paolo Virno 269

14. The Biopolitics of Postmodern Bodies: Constitutions of Self in Immune System Discourse / Donna Haraway 274

15. The Immunological Transformation: On the Way to Thin-Walled "Societies" / Peter Sloterdijk 310

16. Biopolitics / Roberto Esposito 317

17. The Enigma of Biopolitics / Roberto Esposito 350

18. The Difficult Legacy of Michel Foucault / Jacques Rancière 386

19. From Politics to Biopolitics . . . and Back / Slavoj Zizek 391

20. What Is It to Live? / Alain Badiou 412

21. Immanence: A Life / Gilles Deleuze 421

Acknowledgment of Copyright 427

Index 429
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5335-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5332-4
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