By C. Blencowe
An unique, entire interpretation of Michel Foucault's research of biopolitics – situating biopolitics within the context of embodied histories of subjectivity, affective investments and constructions of expertise. Going past lamentation on the horrors of biopolitical domination, the publication develops a positive-critique of biopolitical adventure.
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Additional resources for Biopolitical Experience: Foucault, Power and Positive Critique
He writes: Forming concepts is a way of living not of killing life; it is a way to live in relative mobility and not a way to immobilize life; it is to show, among those billions of living beings that inform their environment and inform themselves on the basis of it, an innovation that can be judged as one likes, tiny or substantial: a very special type of information. (Foucault, 2000b:475) Experience, then, is not the opposite or alternative to theories, concepts or intellectualisation. Nor is experience authentic ‘real life’, nor the radical particularity of ‘everyday life’ or ‘lived experience’.
Relatedly, I will argue that it is important to maintain a clear distinction between biopolitics and disciplinary anatomo-politics of bodies. The difference between anatomo- and biopolitics is not simply a question of scale, it is also a question of alternative systems of values and structures of experience and embodiment (forms of vitalism and forms of rationalism). I want to emphasise the trans-organic quality of biopolitical life and embodiment. Biological life is before and after individual living organisms; it is the condition of their existence and it proceeds through their very destruction.
Foucault’s account of biopolitics, as I understand it, suggests that this conservative biological determinist never existed – whilst the eugenicist, genocidal, supremacist, regularising socio-biologist certainly did. By situating limit experience within power/ knowledge Foucault upsets both the humanistic celebration of the experiencing subject, and the positivist (or radicalist) assumption that experience politics is conservative politics. Experience in Foucault is about limits, approaching impossibility and intensity.