Terms of the political: Community, immunity, biopolitics
Terms of the Political: Community, Immunity, Biopolitics presents a decade of thought about the origins and possibilities of political theory from one of contemporary Italy's most prolific and engaging political theorists, Roberto Esposito. He has coined a number of critical concepts in current debates about the past, present, and future of biopolitics-from his work on the implications of the etymological and philosophical kinship of community (communitas) and immunity (immunitas) to his theorizations of the impolitical and the impersonal. Taking on interlocutors from throughout the Western philosophical tradition, from Aristotle and Augustine to Weil, Arendt, Nancy, Foucault, and Agamben, Esposito announces the eclipse of a modern political lexicon-"freedom," "democracy," "sovereignty," and "law"-that, in its attempt to protect human life, has so often produced its opposite (violence, melancholy, and death). Terms of the Political calls for the opening of political thought toward a resignification of these and other operative terms-such as "community," "immunity," "biopolitics," and "the impersonal"-in ways that affirm rather than negate life. An invaluable introduction to the breadth and rigor of Esposito's thought, the book will also welcome readers already familiar with Esposito's characteristic skill in overturning and breaking open the language of politics.
... In turn, Agamben (1998) refers to biopolitics as the inclusion of human life in the calculations of power (1998); while Lobo-Guerrero (2007) expresses the concept as "power over life". Besides, Esposito (2013) affirms that biopolitics is made by a process of immunology through which a population is protected but also confronted with the phenomena that might cause its death. However, this exposure is made in controlled levels as in the process of creating immunologic responses against diseases. ...
... Thus, in different levels, the content elaborated by those authors exemplify the abolishment or the discredit of metanarratives. And even if some authors like Esposito (2013) continued to explore concepts such as biopolitics beyond Foucault, he argues that either life appears as being captured as if imprisoned, by a power destined to reduce it to a simple biological matter, or else politics risks to be dissolved in the rhythm of a life that endlessly reproduces itself beyond the historical contradictions by which it is invested. In that sense, Esposito moves between pessimistic and optimistic accounts of life, depending on its relationship with apparatus of capture and circumscription (returning, somehow, to the above Foucault dilemma of resistance). ...
The objective of this study is to examine the development of socio-technical accountability mechanisms in order to: a) preserve and increase the autonomy of individuals subjected to surveillance and b) replenish the asymmetry of power between those who watch and those who are watched. To do so, we address two surveillance realms: intelligence services and personal data networks. The cases studied are Spain and Brazil, from the beginning of the political transitions in the 1970s (in the realm of intelligence), the expansion of Internet digital networks covering the 2020s (in the realm of personal data), to resistance principles in a long-term future. The examination of accountability, thus, comprises a holistic evolution of institutions, regulations, market strategies, as well as resistance tactics. The conclusion summarizes the accountability mechanisms and proposes universal principles to improve the legitimacy of authority in surveillance and politics in a broad sense. PREFACE, INTRODUCTION; PART 1. Zero. Chapter 1. Theoretical Framework; 1.1. On the forms of power 1.1.a. Restraining power: About the importance of controlling the uncontrollable. 1.1.b. Executing power: The aporia between exceptionality and normalization 1.1.c. Justifying power: A brief epistemological history 1.1.d. Constructing power: In the name of security 1.2. On surveillance: Real metaphors and perspectives 1.3. On privacy: Basic remarks 1.4. On accountability: The art of squaring the circle Chapter 2. Methodology and Operationalization 2.1. Hypothesis 2.2. Operationalization PART 2. 1975. Chapter 3. Accountability in the realm of intelligence 3.1. Intelligence 3.2. Authoritarian legacies 3.2.a. The Spanish authoritarian legacy 3.2.b. The Brazilian authoritarian legacy 3.3. Intelligence institutional paths 3.3.a. The Spanish path: SECED, CESID, CNI 3.3.b. The Brazilian path: SNI, SAE, ABIN-SISBIN 3.4. Internal control 3.5. Legislative control 3.6. Judicial control 3.7. Accountability of third dimension 3.8. The media role and civil society Chapter 4. Surveillance and intelligence: connecting the points 4.1. Surveillance metaphors and intelligence 4.2. Intelligence and the management of subjects 4.3. Intelligence accountability and legitimate resistance PART 3. 2020. Chapter 5. Accountability in the realm of personal data 5.0. Personal data 5.1. State regulations 5.1.a. Personal data protection in Spain 5.1.b. Personal data protection in Brazil 5.2. Market strategies 5.2.a. Internet and data business 5.2.b. Accountability of big market players 5.2.c. Further approaches: algorithms, privacy by design, and oligopolies 5.3. Civic agency 5.3.a. Ironic stream 5.3.b. Deliberative stream 5.3.c. Agonistic stream 5.3.d. Despair stream Chapter 6. Surveillance and personal data: connecting the points 6.1. Surveillance metaphors and personal data 6.2. Personal data and the management of subjects 6.3. Personal data accountability and further resistance PART 4. 2084. “Postscript” on the societies of surveillance; Metanarratives for resistance I. Icarus model II. Sisyphus model III. Orphic model The desert is advancing: Accountability revisited CONCLUSION References Appendices
... The Italian philosopher Roberto Esposito (2008Esposito ( , 2012 has complemented the Foucauldian analysis of biopower with the 'paradigm of immunisation'. The notion of immunity encompasses attempts that are made to draw a mark between self and other, communal and foreign, normal and pathological, and order and disorder, especially in times of crisis and anxiety. ...
... In reflecting further on the fact that security has become not only one among the different existing governmentalities, but an obsession, Esposito (2012) points out that we are not simply dealing with an increase in the attention we pay to danger, but rather, the usual relation between danger and protection has been reversed: no longer does the presence of risk generate the demand for protection, but the demand for protection artificially generates the sensation of risk. This has been pushed to the extreme by the idea of a preventative war, where war is no longer the exception or a last resort, but the sole form of global coexistence. ...
... became an excuse to carry out colonial residential policies in two main ways: on one side preferring sanitary measures that were severe against specific groups as recommended by experts with medical knowledge, and on the other enabling segregation between two kinds of residential forms, the proper ones (made of permanent but expensive materials) and the improper ones (represented by the thatch-roofed buildings) (Bigon, 2021). The experience with Dakar is just an example of how improving health conditions by urban sanitation, was a structural feature of planning colonial cities and also perfectly fits R. Esposito's thesis about community and immunity, where he states that "the idea of immunity, necessary for the protection of individual life, if carried past a certain threshold or limit, end up attacking itself: Where immunity devices characterize politics, modern politics become characterized by autoimmunity effects in which the immune system becomes so strong that it turns against the very mechanism that it should defend and winds up destroying it" (Esposito, 2013). ...
This reflection paper investigates planning under the lens of immunology to face the current and previous pandemic crisis
... The global effort to create a COVID-19 vaccine highlighted a temporary reversal of institutional priorities. The race for the vaccine, international collaboration, and the global deployment of scientific tools and expertise in search of a cure exemplifies what Robert Esposito would call an affirmative biopolitics for the common good (Esposito, 2012). Esposito, who theorizes immunity as protection of individual and collective life, is interested in positive, rather than repressive, aspects of biopolitics. ...
From a postcolonial perspective, U.S. higher education is entangled with the colonial past and the neoliberal neo-colonial present as an economic actor that dominates global educational markets through internationalization. The COVID pandemic and the nationwide movement for racial justice have brought these entanglements into stark relief in the ways U.S. colleges and universities are implicated in the neoliberal biopolitics of race. Applied to higher education, Michel Foucault’s concept of biopolitics as the management of life and wellbeing of populations and his conceptualization of racism as a biopolitical tool illuminate how U.S. colleges and universities maintain racialized categorizations of lives worth protecting and lives considered disposable in the service of dominant whiteness. De-centering whiteness and eliminating its advantage and superiority in research, curricula, instruction, and internationalization is a necessary step toward a future that envisions a more inclusive and equal citizenship.
... /2008, quien ha desarrollado el concepto de las biopolíticas afirmativas. En términos de nexos políticos contemporáneos, Esposito (2013Esposito ( /2008ver también 2008) ha hablado de una «democracia biopolítica o una biopolítica democrática, que es capaz de ejercer por sí misma no solo sobre los cuerpos sino a favor de ellos». El impacto sensorial y mnemónico de comer y beber puede de hecho ser uno de los procesos biopolíticos más poderosos, y no solo en las gastropolíticas del banquete. ...
... Battlismo combined apparently contradictory elements, including the protection of private property and rights to inheritance with a discourse surrounding the need to 'descralize private property' and the nationalisation of Battlismo is a civic republican, social justice tradition that challenges the contemporary hegemony of market freedom by emphasizing the importance of effective freedom. At the same time, individual freedom is conceived of through rather than against community in a way that challenges immunitarian principles of liberal thought and reinvigorate new modes of civic republicanism (Esposito 2013). The FA has replaced their anti-imperialist stance with a more moderate position centred on opposition to neoliberal reforms and a reinterpretation and renovation of Battlismo. ...
Amidst a global turn towards authoritarianism and populism, there are few contemporary examples of state-led democratisation. This paper discusses how Uruguay's Frente Amplio (FA) party has drawn on a unique national democratic cultural heritage to encourage a coupling of participatory and representative institutions in 'a politics of closeness'. The FA has reinvigorated Battlismo, a discourse associated with social justice, civic republicanism and the rise of Uruguayan social democracy in the early twentieth century. At the same time, the FA's emphasis on egalitarian participation is inspired by the thought of Uruguay's independence hero José Artigas. I argue that the cross-weave of party and movement, and of democratic citizenship and national heritage, encourages the emergence of new figures of the citizen and new permutations for connecting citizens with representative institutions. The FA's "politics of closeness" is an example of how state-driven democratisation remains possible in an age described by some as 'post-democratic'.
... But instead of questioning affinities between sovereignty and humanism these theorists inadvertently reinforce them by buttressing humanism without ever unsettling anthropocentric sovereignty's metaphysical comfort zone. Thus, drawing on the works by Jacques Derrida, Walter Benjamin and Roberto Esposito, and in contrast with humanist critical theorists, this paper proposes a critique of humanism as decisionism based on melancholic lycanthropy (Derrida, 2008; Benjamin, 2003; Esposito, 2012a). The paper proceeds as follows. ...
This article suggests that humanism is a decisionism in contemporary critical political theory. Despite obvious and multiple differences, leading critical theorists like Giorgio Agamben, Slavoj Žižek, Eric Santner, and Jürgen Habermas, among others, share an investment in stabilizing the human being as a ground of the political. This stabilization of the human should concern political theorists, as this article argues, because it uncritically reproduces conceptual affinities between the notion of the human being and sovereign authority. By investing in the stability and centrality of the human being, these theorists perform what will be called, paraphrasing an often neglected argument by Carl Schmitt, a decision to be human. Contrary to conventional wisdom, I argue that Schmitt’s decisionism is not merely circumscribed to sovereignty’s juridico-political dimension, but that it also includes a peculiar commitment to God’s decision to become human in Christ. Against this decisionism as humanism, the article draws on Walter Benjamin, Roberto Esposito, and Jacques Derrida to propose an alternative politics that destabilizes humanity and sovereignty through the emergence of the animal, or what will be called melancholic lycanthropy.
... Indeed, community only comes alive through action, for example a celebration, a wedding or a funeral, a response to a personal or a collective crisis or when addressing a conflict. People yearn for the experience of community (Esposito 2013, Nancy 1991) but understand in reality that the experience is fleeting and cannot be sustained. So for us: community is an active and reflexive communicative practice, which enables people to live equitably in interdependence with an increasingly diverse range of others. ...
This is a report on the FP7 research project, ALTERNATIVE, focusing on the research and findings by the Ulster University team in Northern Ireland
This chapter establishes how collective commemorative events can come to be thought of as a resource of law, or as quasi-legal institutions. It underscores how the relationship between memory and law can be considered on the basis of law as a product of memory, rather than memory as an effect or object of law. The argument that this chapter makes is that understandings of and receptiveness to state laws is substantiated in behaviours which are grounded in a reliance on particular mnemohistorical narratives of a collective past. In order to make this argument, this chapter considers both the social significance of collective memory and how law can be thought of as a product of a plurality of distributed institutions, actors, and ideologies. In this context, memory’s social significance can be established on the basis that it is one among many contributors to a plural conception of law. This chapter sets this out by identifying how memory informs juridically significant notions of belonging and recognition. Equally, it identifies memory as being involved in situational legal meaning-making and in legal socialization processes.KeywordsCollective memoryLegal consciousnessLegal pluralismLegal socializationNational identity
See more recent paper for an updated iteration of these ideas.
The majority of literature on wars understandably focuses on the horrific aspects of war, such as death, destruction, displacement, and trauma. In this article, however, I want to highlight that life in war is not only brutal and disastrous but also is in some respects deeply joyful and at times even fun. This requires that we portray the horrific experiences of death and destruction but that we also ask: What kind of life emerges in these injured landscapes? Guided by this question, I argue that we cannot understand what war looks like and feels like if we do not understand the relationship between humans and other than humans. More specifically, I show how during the Bosnian War, in the devastated city of ruins, Bihać, shared experiences of joy, fun, and togetherness (communitas) materialized between the town's people and the Una River. Swimming in the river together provided the people of Bihać with an opportunity to create moments of play and laughter between life and death. As people in Bihać explained, these were moment‐by‐moment living situations, where generations blended and where divisions, superiority, and pride were broken down, however temporarily, and new undifferentiated bonds among people were created—communitas. La mayoría de la literatura en guerras entendiblemente se enfoca en los aspectos horrorosos de la guerra, tales como muerte, destrucción, desplazamiento y trauma. En este artículo, sin embargo, deseo resaltar que la vida en la guerra no es sólo brutal y desastrosa sino también en algunos aspectos es profundamente alegre, y a veces incluso divertida. Esto requiere que representemos las experiencias horrendas de muerte y destrucción, pero que también preguntemos: ¿Qué clase de vida emerge en estos paisajes heridos? Guiada por esta pregunta, argumento que no podemos entender cómo se ve y se siente la guerra si no entendemos la relación entre los seres humanos y otros que no sean humanos. Más específicamente, muestro cómo durante la guerra de Bosnia, en la ciudad devastada, en ruinas, Bihać, experiencias compartidas de alegría, diversión y compañerismo (communitas) se materializaron entre la as personas del pueblo y el Rio Una. Nadar en el rio juntos proveyó a las personas de Bihać una oportunidad de crear momentos de juego y risa entre la vida y la muerte. Como las personas de Bihać explicaron, estos fueron momento a momento, situaciones de vida donde generaciones se mezclaron y donde divisiones, superioridad y orgullo fueron derribados, aunque temporalmente, y nuevos lazos indiferenciados entre las personas fueron creados –communitas–. [guerra, rio, communitas, humanos, otros no humanos, Bosnia y Herzegovina] Naučna literatura koja proučava rat i nasilje uglavnom se bavi pitanjima destrukcije ljudskih života i zajedničkog suživota, uništavanjem urbane sredine, izbjegličkim iskustvima, pitanjima kolektivne traume, te procesima poslijeratne rekonstrukcije i reizgradnje. Nasuprot ovim dominantnim pristupima, u ovom članku želim pokazati da život tokom rata nije samo brutalan i destruktivan nego, u pojedinim momentima, radostan, pa čak i zabavan. Ova provokacija zahtijeva da obratimo pažnju ne samo na dominantne i užasavajuće aspekte ratne svakodnevnice kojom dominiraju smrt, ranjavanje i razaranje, već i da se osvrnemo na sljedeće pitanje: kakav se život odvija u kontekstu rata? Vođena ovim pitanjem, u ovom članku tvrdim da ne možemo razumjeti život tokom rata ako ne shvatimo odnos između onog što u zapadnjačkoj epistemologiji nazivamo “ljudi” i “priroda”. Stoga ovaj rad pažljivo prikazuje kako se za vrijeme rata u Bosni i Hercegovini, u devastiranom sjevernozapadnom gradu Bihaću, iz viševrsnih odnosa između ljudi i rijeke generirao smislen i na momente radostan život. Radost, zabava i zajedništvo (communitas) manifestirali su se kroz odnos stanovnika Bihaća i “njihove” rijeke Une. Preciznije, zajedničko plivanje u rijeci tokom rata dozvolilo je Bišćanima da kreiraju momente refleksije, radosti i smijeha, otvarajući im mogućnost da “žive u potpunosti, smisleno” ili, kao što bi Bišćani rekli, “da žive kao ljudi”, a ne isključivo kao žrtve. Ratni život u Bihaću bio je život koji se živio od momenta do momenta, uz, sa i u rijeci Uni. To iskustvo plivanja u ratu u rijeci i sa rijekom, doprinijelo je tome da se razni oblici duboko usađenih društvenih podijela privremeno prevaziđu što je produciralo unikatno iskustvo zajedništva sa drugim ljudima i sa rijekom. [rat, rijeka, zajedništvo, viševrsni odnos, Bosna i Herzegovina]
The so-called Spanish transition to democracy has largely been a process of collective forgetting undertaken for the sake of progress and measured by the country’s perceived success at democratization, for example, by adopting a new constitution and joining the European Union after forty years of a repressive fascist dictatorship. As the 15-M movement took off in 2011, the effectiveness of the Transition started to be openly questioned. In the 2017 film El bar, directed and co-written by Álex de la Iglesia, the characters find themselves in a situation that appears to be a random terrorist killing as one of the characters walks out of a bar in Madrid. Implying that we live in a society where “pedir un café puede costarte la vida”, the film employs a rather predictable narrative trope of trapping a handful of characters from different walks of life in an enclosed space and shows the audience how they organize themselves into a community whose goal is to leave the trap as a community, thus questioning its functionality. This article examines the plethora of fears that circulate in democratic Spain including terrorism, disease and Balkanization through a cinematic lens that seeks to reevaluate the Transition process and the very notion of crisis that shapes the public sphere and is, in turn, shaped by it.
This thesis argues for a broader and deeper understanding of urban risk perception and resilience in under researched, ordinary medium sized cities of the world such as Bharatpur, Nepal. A detailed intra urban comparison of a core urban ward and a rapidly urbanising ward provide a conceptual and methodological tool showcasing a complex risk landscape as perceived by residents. In the everyday, respondents perceive a range of risks including economic security and physical infrastructure. Through participation in informal governance structures (women’s groups and neighbourhood groups), some residents are addressing urban risk in the everyday. Women’s groups are a form of informal urban social, economic and environmental resilient infrastructure while neighbourhood groups are allowed to do more, thus reworking the urban to address their perceived risks. Bharatpur, Nepal provides an opportunity to learn from its inhabitants: what the urban “we” perceive as risks, how the urban “we” enact resilience and or rework the urban as well as how they attempt to create and influence a future that is of benefit to them and their communities. Two events lead to a changing risk environment for residents and the local authority. The change in administrative status (from a municipality to a sub metropolitan city) and the devastating Gorkha earthquake highlight the complexity of risk perceptions and practices shaping people’s response to risky events. Through these events, risk for poorer, marginalised residents is being accumulated and responses to perceived risk may need to be reworked by informal organisations that currently have power in the city. Through the lens of these two events as well as the everyday, the role of the local authority is viewed as a particularly important form of risk governance in the city. The local authority manages the informality of risk governance space allowing some groups of residents to address their perceived risks while excluding segments of society. The international aid community’s ambivalence towards the problematic resilience discourse framing their work is also made visible in this research. The international aid community of Nepal is utilising disaster community resilience in two distinct ways: as a bridging mechanism for their siloed work and as a project management tool of the donors to manage practitioners. The resilience lens ignores urban residents’ perceptions of risk and power dynamics in society. This results in an assumption that “communities” can become resilient. The overarching contribution of this research is the linking of disaster and urban studies of ordinary medium sized cities through the concepts of risk perceptions, resilience, community and a multi scale analysis leading to insights of relevance for theory, policy and practice. This research argues to de-privilege disasters and a conceptual space is created for engaging through time and space with a broader interpretation of urban risk and urban resilience as perceived by actors from the local to the national and to the international scale.
This article examines the narratives, imaginaries, and subjectivities that underpin the far‐right, ethnic nationalist “defense leagues” that have emerged in Australia (and across Europe) in the past decade. Referencing three, interrelated nationalist events in Australia—the Cronulla Riots, Cronulla Memorial Day, and the “race‐riot” that occurred in Melbourne on January 5, 2019—I argue that defense leagues resist conceptualization through existing theories of nationalism and community, including those articulated by Anderson, Hage, and Esposito. Drawing on Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, I argue that unlike other nationalists, defense nationalists are not primarily concerned with realizing their avowed political projects (such as fortifying national borders, halting immigration, and preserving so‐called national values). Instead, they are focused on constructing and enjoying themselves as the privileged national subjects who get to do the nation's defending. As I elaborate, the enjoyment they derive from defending the nation—which is approximate to the Lacanian concept of jouissance—means that paradoxically, that which threatens the nation legitimizes and fortifies the nationalist, because the more the nation is threatened, the more the nationalist's perceived role within it is secured. Ultimately, I argue this jouissance salvages a symbolic life within the nation that is always‐already dead.
Recent theories of community (Nancy, Agamben, Esposito) aim to think the term beyond its definition as the ownership of shared identity, language, culture or territory. For Esposito, to reduce community to a property whose possession distinguishes members from non-members undermines the commonality the term implies. The common opposes what is proper or one’s own; it belongs to everyone and anyone. Rather than securing identity and belonging, community, defined by its impropriety, disrupts them so that we are in common. While his work successfully illustrates the incompatibility of the common and the proper, it leaves unanswered the question of how communities come to experience their impropriety. Through a comparison with Rancière’s improper community, we can identify and gesture beyond this limit. Its members intervene in proper communities by exercising the right to decide on common matters despite officially having no right to do so. Their actions, by demonstrating the openness of the common to anyone and everyone, turn its privatisation into a shared wrong that connects community with non-community. By supplementing Esposito’s work with Rancière’s, we see how communities relate to what they have deemed improper in a way that both challenges and revitalises their sense of commonality.
Over the last decades, care has proliferated as a notion aimed at capturing a vast array of practices, conditions, and sentiments. In this article, we argue that the analytics of care may benefit from being troubled, as it too often reduces the reproduction of life to matters of palliation and repair, fueling a politics of nationalism and identitarianism. Picking up the threads of insight from STS, “new materialisms,” and postcolonial feminist and indigenous scholarship, we discuss care from “below” and “beyond,” thus exposing tensions between the enveloping and the diverging, the enduring and the engendering, that play out in care practices. We propose “ecologies of support” as an analytic that attends to how humans are grounded in, traversed by, and undermined by more‐than‐human and often opaque, speculative, subterranean elements. Our proposal is for anthropology to not simply map life‐sustaining ecologies, but to experimentally engage with troubling modes of inquiry and intervention. [care, ecologies of support, trouble, more‐than‐human, medical anthropology] This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
In the last decades, narrative theory has collaborated with sociology and anthropology of health to account for the importance that illness narratives hold for those who are or have been sick, for those who live with them, for the organizations where they work – if they do, and for public administration. The reason for the link between the two disciplines is that the way in which one explains one’s illness to him or herself, as well as to others, has a crucial impact on one’s experience of being ill as well as on others’ reactions. This paper focuses on the work of one the most influential sociologists who has combined both disciplines: Frank’s The Wounded Storyteller. To our mind, Frank’s lucid account misses the importance of the biocapitalistic forces in his otherwise compelling reflection on illness narratives and proposal of three narrative types. In this paper, we suggest how the logic of the messianic narratives of Benjamin and Derrida can help identify the biocapitalistic forces that inform one of the illness narratives Frank studies and criticizes – the restitution narrative- and can help complement the narrative type Frank most praises – the quest narrative.
This paper investigates empirically how the international aid community (IAC)—donors and practitioners—considers and implements disaster resilience in a specific country setting, Nepal, and throughout the rest of the world. A key finding is that there is ambivalence about a concept that has become a discourse. On a global level, the IAC utilises the discourse of resilience in a cautiously positive manner as a bridging concept. On a national level, it is being used to influence the Government of Nepal, as well as serving as an operational tool of donors. The mythical resilient urban community is fashioned in the IAC's imaginary; understanding how people create communities and what type of linkages with government urban residents desire to develop their resilience strategies is missing, though, from the discussion. Disaster resilience can be viewed as another grand plan to enhance the lives of people. Yet, regrettably, an explicit focus on individuals and their communities is lost in the process.
The Handbook of Communication and Security provides a comprehensive collection and synthesis of communication scholarship that engages security at multiple levels, including theoretical vs. practical, international vs. domestic, and public vs. private. The handbook includes chapters that leverage communication-based concepts and theories to illuminate and influence contemporary security conditions. Collectively, these chapters foreground and analyze the role of communication in shaping the economic, technological, and cultural contexts of security in the 21st century. This book is ideal for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students and scholars in the numerous subfields of communication and security studies.
This article addresses the representation of forced and clandestine migration in some of Hassan Blasim’s short stories within an interdisciplinary conceptual framework that brings together theories of biopolitics, ecocriticism, human rights discourse, heterotopia, and the aesthetics of “nightmare realism”. Blasim’s short stories offer new opportunities to address territoriality, life and truth at their limits in real and imagined sites where forest and border, human and non-human meet to suggest more-than-human futures for the paradoxical project of reclaiming human rights. By analysing Blasim’s unique representational techniques, through which he mediates material and discursive violence within a combined biopolitical-ecological framework, the article also investigates the potentials and limitations of a more ecologically attuned perspective on freedom of movement and community, based on the claims of the environment rather than the nation.
In this article, we approach the relationship between neoliberalism and psychological science from the theoretical perspective of cultural psychology. In the first section, we trace how engagement with neoliberal systems results in characteristic tendencies—including a radical abstraction of self from social and material context, an entrepreneurial understanding of self as an ongoing development project, an imperative for personal growth and fulfillment, and an emphasis on affect management for self‐regulation—that increasingly constitute the knowledge base of mainstream psychological science. However, as we consider in the second section, psychological science is not just an observer of neoliberalism and its impact on psychological experience. Instead, by studying psychological processes independent of cultural–ecological or historical context and by championing individual growth and affective regulation as the key to optimal well‐being, psychological scientists reproduce and reinforce the influence and authority of neoliberal systems. Rather than a disinterested bystander, hegemonic forms of psychological science are thoroughly implicated in the neoliberal project.
In this paper I compare the psychopolitical account given by Byung-Chul Han and Stiegler with the Foucauldian biopolitical framework. Taking into account Deleuze’s and Baudrillard’s remarks on the new society, Stiegler proposes to use the term psycho-power to complete Foucault’s model. Byung-Chul Han has suggested that we are in a psychopolitical age that goes far beyond the biopolitical account. This analysis is linked to Bauman’s work on liquid modernity, and to a reconceptualization of power.
Understanding political melancholy as central to the crisis of modernity and democracy implies a growing realization that melancholy teaches us something essential about different forms of political crisis and their affective modes. This essay contends that the relationship between political melancholy in Weimar Germany and its repurposing by German Jews for Zionist thought reveals how political melancholy was and remains at the heart of Zionism. The essay offers both a historical and theoretical consideration of political melancholy. Its purpose is to question how a political affect of melancholy helps us grasp Zionism, offering a new way to think through its failures. More specifically, the growing attention, both critical and affirmative, paid to “left-wing melancholy” is used to examine a general sense of loss and crisis in the West and the more concrete expression of this sense in the history of Zionism.
Since the end of the Cold War Private Military Companies have emerged as important players within international politics. Their significance is expressed by the fact that the United States of America are unable to wage war without the assistance of such companies. Due to the strong reliance of states on such private actors various studies have investigated this phenomenon. This paper contributes to this literature by conceptualising the status of private contractors in relation to society. It will do so by looking at the different perceptions towards private contractors and soldiers when they die and when they kill. Denn die einen sind im Dunkeln For some are in the dark Und die anderen sind im Licht, And some are in the light Und man sieht die im Lichte, And we see those in the Light Die im Dunkeln sieht man nicht. But those in the Dark are out of sight-Bertolt Brecht, The Ballad of Mack the Knife in The Threepenny Opera Since the end of the Cold War, states witnessed an increasing outsourcing trend of their military capabilities. Private Military and Security Companies (henceforth PMSC´s and private contractors) began to emerge as an important actor within the security structure of states. The numbers with regard to this phenomenon are indeed impressive. Today the private marketing of war, seen on a global scale, has created several hundred companies, operating in over 100 countries on six continents, and its global annual revenue is expected to be close to $230 billion by
Continental philosophy, argues Catherine Malabou, has disavowed biology. This article examines the ways in which philosophies of listening risk eschewing the biological and material dimensions of aurality in favour of its symbolic or spiritual aspects. It explores in detail the dangers that deconstructive approaches to listening face in their endeavours to confront the materiality of sensation and it presents Malabou’s concept of plasticity as a way out of these aporias.
The present essay examines the festival as a form of organizing and as a metaphor for contemporary organizations. Drawing upon classical and contemporary perspectives on festival, we focus on social ambivalences and how these are enacted and mediated through festivals. Specifically, we argue that festivals mark a tension between linear and cyclical dimensions of social time. Next, we argue that formal institutional and communitarian principles are mediated through festival. Finally, we argue that festivals mark a tension between reflexivity and social critique on the one hand and mass spectacle on the other, and problematize the notion of bodily enjoyment as a form of social consciousness. We discuss the implications of these three ambivalences-in the notion of time, the notion of community, and the notion of reflexivity-for contributing to http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/orgstudies Organization Studies Abstract The present essay examines the festival as a form of organizing and as a metaphor for contemporary organizations. Drawing upon classical and contemporary perspectives on festival, we focus on social ambivalences and how these are enacted and mediated through festivals. Specifically, we argue that festivals mark a tension between linear and cyclical dimensions of social time. Next, we argue that formal institutional and communitarian principles are mediated through festival. Finally, we argue that festivals mark a tension between reflexivity and social critique on the one hand and mass spectacle on the other, and problematize the notion of bodily enjoyment as a form of social consciousness. We discuss the implications of these three ambivalences-in the notion of time, the notion of community, and the notion of reflexivity-for contributing to contemporary organizational discussions.
This paper reviews work in geography concerned with the spatialities of “the subject” after non-representational theory (NRT). The paper looks at what talking about “the subject” might refer to, particularly amid the aftermath of the decentering of the subject that took place in the latter part of the 20th century across the humanities and social sciences. The paper then provides an overview of the impacts that NRT has had on how geographers have understood and approached the subject. In particular, the paper focuses on recent work in human geography which takes the subject to be in some way emergent from encounters with various more-than human others/alterity. Reflecting on that work, the paper broaches questions around difference and distribution. Here, a range of questions and lines of enquiry which might now be pursued in developing this work further are offered. These are summarised around the need for a “spacing” of the subject.
This paper reflects on the different futures and imaginaries constructed through the politics and policy of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). We examine the role of catastrophism, trauma and notions of ‘resistance’ expressed at different moments in the development of the AMR debate. The paper focuses on a number of imaginaries in the politics of AMR, particularly a characterisation of Britain as the ‘sick man of Europe’ or the ‘British disease’ and, more recently, the catastrophist prospect of a ‘return to the dark ages of medicine’. We draw upon recent writing in biopolitical philosophy on immunity and autoimmunity, particularly in the work of Derrida and Sloterdijk, to interrogate immunitary politics of AMR at the intersections of the human and the microbial.
This paper examines social theoretical literatures on immunity in the context of contemporary biopolitical debates about antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). An exploration of contributions to the online forum ‘Mumsnet’ about antibiotic use and AMR serves as an empirical anchorage to these literatures. Five themes emerge from these data: ‘temporal constraints and technological fixes’, ‘restorative bodies’, ‘spatial othering’, ‘moral accountabilities’ and ‘domestic immunitary environments’. We offer the concept ‘immunitary moralism’ to capture the way antibiotics prompt moral reflection on immunity, biopolitical citizenship, bodily integrity and communal probity. We reveal how the moral politics of blame and immunitary othering are present in online debates about AMR, and explore the way these registers resonate with writings in biopolitical philosophy on the ascendency of immunitary individualism and tensions between community and immunity (communitas and immunitas).
This chapter analyses legal personhood in the European legal setting. EU law used to be primarily concerned with economic integration and free movement but now due to the growing importance of human rights and the creation of EU citizenship, people are gradually taking centre stage in Union law. There is increasing need for enquiries into the European legal person. The chapter takes privacy and personal data protection as exemplary areas of law where the EU is currently engaged in defining personhood. The discussion in this chapter is structured around a tension between individuality and commonality. Individualism sees man as primarily an individual, a person with rights, or a unique autonomous agent. This chapter tries to consider legal subjectivity without a necessary connection to individuality. Privacy and personal data regulation are fields of law where it is possible to recognise tendencies of modern legal thought to emphasise unique persons and individuals’ rights. The chapter argues that the increasing protection of the rights to privacy and personal data need to be balanced with an understanding of legal personhood as embedded in community. Privacy and personal data protection can be understood as instances of immunisation following ideas developed by Roberto Esposito. Taken too far, the logic of immunisation undermines community and shared, collective meanings. The reading of Esposito put forward here sees a possibility of escaping some individualistic tendencies of the law by reconfiguring the legal person as a third. The idea of the third person can lead towards conceptions of legal personhood as embedded in society.
Archaeologists are familiar with the concept of assemblage, but in more recent years they have started problematizing it in interesting and innovative ways, beyond its common connotations of aggregation. Sociologists such as Manuel DeLanda and political philosophers such as Jane Bennett have been key influences in this move. These authors had adapted and modified the assemblage thinking of Deleuze and Guattari. In this article, an assemblage of sorts itself, I propose that we need to return to that original Deleuzian body of thinking and explore its richness further. Assemblages, temporary and deliberate heterogeneous arrangements of material and immaterial elements, are about the relationship of in-betweenness. I further suggest that sensoriality and affectivity, memory and multi-temporality are key features of assemblage thinking, and that assemblages also imply certain political effects. The omission of these features in the archaeological treatments of the concept may lead to mechanistic reincarnations of systems thinking, thus depriving the concept of its potential. Finally, I explore these ideas by considering communal eating and feasting events as powerful sensorial assemblages.
This paper argues that we should think of community as being about social relationships rather than a ‘thing’ that is ‘lost’, ‘found’ or ‘made’. The paper draws on the philosophy of Roberto Esposito and the sociology of David Studdert to highlight the overlaps in their approaches to community. Both argue that community is ontological, as unavoidably ‘with us’. The paper then draws upon two empirical examples to argue that this approach could enable a different kind of public policy in relation to community. Policy would focus on existing relationships as the starting point for any efforts to effect social change. The implications for contemporary debates about localism are explored at the end of the paper.
In this article I offer an overture to social life, starting from the premise that every living being should be envisaged not as a blob but as a bundle of lines. I show that in joining with one another, these lines comprise a meshwork, in which every node is a knot. And in answering to one another, lifelines co-respond. I propose the term 'correspondence' to connote their affiliation, and go on to show that correspondence rests on three essential principles: of habit (rather than volition), 'agencing' (rather than agency), and attentionality (rather than intentionality). I explain habit as 'doing undergoing', agencing as a process in which the 'I' emerges as a question, and attention as a resonant coupling of concurrent movements. I discuss the ethical and imaginative dimensions of correspondence under the respective rubrics of care and longing. Finally, I spell out the implications of a theory of correspondence for the way we approach classic themes of anthropological inquiry, including kinship and affinity, ecology and economy, ritual and religion, and politics and law. In a coda, I suggest that anthropology, too, must be a discipline of correspondence.
This chapter is offered in lieu of conclusion and as a ‘preface’ to the kind of politics that may issue from the reflexive nihilist position adopted in this book. It recapitulates the book’s main points and bears out the implications of the reconceptualisation of political subjectivity as a tragicomic embodiment of a theopolitical meontology. Political action in a diverse world should not abandon the pretensions to universality but, rather, it should undermine the logic of utility and commandment resting behind such claims, while also divesting itself from any illusions of purity or self-righteousness in pursuing its goals. Political action is born in the creative tension between a re-enchanted ‘already’, wholly embracing the dimensions of loss and temporality in the here and now of everyday politics, and an eschatological ‘not yet’ that undercuts the destructive logics of domination and exploitation that permeate our world.
The essay argues that the convergence of posthumanism and postcoloniality may help questioning the theoretical dispositif of the Western ‘state of nature,’ thus overcoming the colonial fracture between political society and ‘premodern’ modes of existence. Some examples are provided of the resonances between postcolonial politics of knowledge and approaches to things and nature that, from within the boundaries of Western philosophical discourse, question the foundations of the post-Hobbesian ‘state of nature,’ mobilizing the unsettling energy of archaic relations to nonhumans.
The article addresses the implications of Prevent and Channel for epistemic justice. The first section outlines the background of Prevent. It draws upon Moira Gatens and Genevieve Lloyd’s concept of the collective imaginary, alongside Lorraine Code’s concept of epistemologies of mastery, in order to outline some of the images and imaginaries that inform and orient contemporary counter-terrorist preventative initiatives, in particular those affecting education. Of interest here is the way in which vulnerability (to radicalisation) is conceptualised in Prevent and Channel, in particular the way in which those deemed ‘at risk of radicalisation’ are constituted as vulnerable and requiring intervention. The imaginary underpinning such preventative initiatives is, I argue, a therapeutic/epidemiological one. If attention is paid to the language associated with these interventions, one finds reference to terms such as contagion, immunity, resilience, grooming, virus, susceptibility, therapy, autonomy, vulnerability and risk—a constellation of images/concepts resonant with therapeutic and epidemiological theories and practices. I outline some of the implications of this therapeutic/epidemiological imaginary for epistemic injustice. If people, in this case, students, teachers and parents, feel that their voice will not be given credence, this leads to testimonial injustice. If one group is constituted as a suspect community, this risks hermeneutical injustice for that group—a situation facing Muslims at present. Given the requirements for educators and educational institutions to enact this particular iteration of preventative counter-terrorist legislation, the way in which vulnerability (to radicalisation) is understood and operationalised has direct bearing upon education and the educational experience of all stakeholders, in particular in relation to the conditions for epistemic justice.
In April 2015, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott called on European leaders to respond to the migration and refugee crisis in the Mediterranean by ‘stopping the boats’ in order to prevent further deaths. This suggestion resonated with the European Union Commission’s newly articulated commitment to both enhancing border security and saving lives. This article charts the increasing entanglement of securitisation and humanitarianism in the context of transnational border control and migration management. The analysis traces the global phenomenon of humanitarian border security alongside a series of spatial dislocations and temporal deferrals of ‘the border’ in both European and Australian contexts. While discourses of humanitarian borders operate according to a purportedly universal and therefore borderless logic of ‘saving lives’, the subjectivity of the ‘irregular’ migrant in need of rescue is one that is produced as spatially and temporally exceptional — the imperative is always to act in the here and the now — and therefore knowable, governable and ‘bordered’.
This article re-conceptualises the ‘constitutive outside’ through Roberto Esposito’s theory of immunity to detach it from Laclau and Mouffe’s political antagonism. It identifies Esposito’s thought as an innovative epistemological perspective to dissolve post-ontological political theories of community from the intertwinement with a foundational self/other dialectic. Esposito shows how a community can sustain its relations through introversive immunisation against a primarily undefined outside. But it is argued that his theory of immunity slips back to a vitalist depth ontology which ultimately de-politicises the construction of the communal outside. This article draws on Niklas Luhmann’s immunity theory to resituate immunisation in the political production of social connectivity. Following Luhmann, politics relies on immunisation through contradictions to reproduce its functional role as a decision-making institution, but is at the same time constantly exposed to potential rupture through the political openness immunity introduces. Through Esposito and Luhmann, this article identifies the relationship between a social inside and its outside as open-ended and secondary to an introversive process of socio-political self-differentiation. It can involve, but does epistemologically necessitate, the construction of an external other.
The article examines the process of establishment of pre-military academies amongst Religious-Zionist society in Israel. The phenomenon is discussed as a transition from a model of a gated community to an ‘immunized’ community. Through institutionalization of psycho-social ideological preparation, the community leadership is trying to ensure that community members maintain their identity and loyalty when they integrate into general society. The article rests on analysis of the discourse of the community’s epistemic leadership – mainly rabbis and leaders of the settler movement. It contributes to the perception of the pre-military academies as institutions that are Religious-Zionist launching pads for senior positions in the IDF and pipelines for future leadership of Israeli society. At the same time, they are a means of ensuring that Religious-Zionists will integrate within Israel society, not through assimilation and dissolution, but rather with cultural and ideological commitment to their community of origin. The article also discusses the development of other similar ‘immunizing’ institutions that aim to facilitate integration of Religious-Zionists in spheres other than the military. These developments are presented as an attempt on the part of the community leadership to maintain its status and relevance, in view of the younger generation’s desire to break out of the gated community boundaries. Thus, these institutions might be viewed as more of a rearguard battle on the part of the leadership than as a behavior-guiding ethos among the younger generation.
Why is there such a marked preference for speaking of bio-ethics rather than bio-politics, in traditional Anglophone analytic philosophy? It is as if life were something pure and unscathed, wholly natural and naturally whole, uncontaminated by politics, law, and power. It is the task of this essay to demonstrate that this is not the case and therefore it is not possible simply to address life on the level of the individual and the ethical. For life cannot be thought as whole and unscathed in its individual propriety. Life cannot be wholly immunised against what does not, properly speaking, belong to it. To think otherwise is to “naturalise” life, to think of life as a purely natural entity, which is to fall victim to ideology, since nature is never uncontaminated by culture, and life is never free of politics.
The concept of life plays a crucial role in the debate on synthetic biology. The first part of this chapter outlines the controversial debate on the status of the concept of life in current science and philosophy. Against this background, synthetic biology and the discourse on its scientific and societal consequences is revealed as an exception. Here, the concept of life is not only used as buzzword but also discussed theoretically and links the ethical aspects with the epistemological prerequisites and the ontological consequences of synthetic biology. The second part of the chapter examines this point of intersection and analyses some of the issues which are discussed in terms of the concept of life. The third part turns to the history of the concept of life. It offers an examination of scientific and philosophical discourses on life at the turn of the 20th century and suggests a surprising result: In the light of this history, synthetic biology leads to well-known debates, arguments, notions and questions. But it is concluded that the concept of life is too ambiguous and controversial to be useful for capturing the actual practice of synthetic biology. In the fourth part I argue that with regard to the ethical evaluation of synthetic biology, the ambiguity of the concept of life is not as problematic as sometimes held because other challenges are more important. The question whether the activity of synthetic biological systems should be conceived as life or not is primarily theoretical.
This article presents a broad humanistic-existential framework in support of community-orientated, participatory action research. Beginning with Pink Floyd’s The Wall as a pedagogic illustration of the aporia of community, three dispositions are offered for the community researcher: communitas, allopathy, and munificence. Each disposition is shown to be supported by particular shared burdens (hospitality, alterity, finitude, and supplementarity) within existence. From this theoretical framework, a model is provided for what is designated as a hermeneutics of love as a research practice in communities.
In numerous African countries humanitarian and development organizations—as well as governments—are expanding expenditures on social protection schemes as a means of poverty alleviation. These initiatives, which typically provide small cash grants to poor populations, are often considered particularly agreeable for the simplicity of their administration and the feasibility of their implementation. This paper examines the background work required to deploy social protection in one especially remote area: the margins of postcolonial Kenya. Specifically, it documents the often overlooked social and technical construction of the infrastructure necessary so that cash transfers may function with the ease and simplicity for which they are commended. Attention to the practice of ‘infrastructuring’ offers insights into the tensions and politics of what is rapidly become a key form of transnational govermentality in the global South, showing that humanitarian rationalities and subjects cannot be understood independently of the material networks on which they rely.
Maurice Blanchot is a towering yet enigmatic figure in twentieth-century French thought. A lifelong friend of Levinas, he had a major influence on Foucault, Derrida, Nancy, and many others. Both his fiction and his criticism played a determining role in how postwar French philosophy was written, especially in its intense concern with the question of writing as such. Never an academic, he published most of his critical work in periodicals and led a highly private life. Yet his writing included an often underestimated public and political dimension. This posthumously published volume collects his political writings from 1953 to 1993, from the French-Algerian War and the mass movements of May 1968 to postwar debates about the Shoah and beyond. A large number of the essays, letters, and fragments it contains were written anonymously and signed collectively, often in response to current events. The extensive editorial work done for the original French edition makes a major contribution to our understanding of Blanchot's work. The political stances Blanchot adopts are always complicated by the possibility that political thought remains forever to be discovered. He reminds us throughout his writings both how facile and how hard it is to refuse established forms of authority. The topics he addresses range from the right to insubordination in the French-Algerian War to the construction of the Berlin Wall and repression in Eastern Europe; from the mass movements of 1968 to personal responses to revelations about Heidegger, Levinas, and Robert Antelme, among others. When read together, these pieces form a testament to what political writing could be: not merely writing about the political or politicizing the written word, but unalterably transforming the singular authority of the writer and his signature.