New Left Review article on the biopolitical

Writing in the New Left Review, Malcolm Bull compares the notion of biopolitics in Foucault (“as provocatively reformulated by Agamben”) and the “capabilities approach” of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, and finds them somewhat incompatible.

Agamben’s work to me never seems as interesting or clear as Foucault’s, though of course YMMV.

(h/t Foucauldian reflections)


2 Responses

  1. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on Agamben. I think this is the second time (AAG post is the first) I have noticed you say you are not interested or find his work not as interesting. I wonder why? Thanks.


  2. Paul,

    Thanks for the question. It is here that I can appeal to the notion of a blog as an unfinished space, a space where one can work things out and not have ready-made answers!

    So it is probably my own limitation right now, rather than a doctrinal difference. Agamben’s re-use of biopolitics just doesn’t seem as clear as Foucault’s; perhaps because it is more abstract and conceptual. I admit that at the moment my impressions are gained from people using Agamben (I went to many sessions at the AAG on him). Derek Gregory was one of the first in geography to “adopt” him and cite his work on the state of exception and apply it to the current political situation. It’s OK, but I have seen equally penetrative analyses on the blogs eg by Glenn Greenwald.

    It is necessary before I say much else to read Agamben himself, of course.

    Having said that I was in a session at the AAG with Claudio Minca, whose work is very much influenced by Agamben and we had a great conversation afterward, even citing the possibility of working together or at least visiting if I’m back in the UK.

    The NLR article here was a useful start, but if someone wants to post or link to a description of the way Agamben takes up the biopolitical, please do!

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