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Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 10 months ago

Bodies in Biopower






A tool that arises out of, and in some ways in opposition to, Foucault's earlier interests in episteme and dispositif as theoretical technologies.


Signals MF's segue, in some ways from the "archaeological" method to the "genealogical" one that would dominate his later works as well as a shift from the analysis of discursive formations to structures of biopower, governmentality, and technologies of the self.


"writing a history of the present" (D&P 33)


What the apparatuses and institutions operate is, in a sense, a micro-physics of power, whose field of validity is situated in a sense between these great functionings and the bodies themselves with their materiality and their forces. (D&P 26)



  • Positivity/Creativity: not just repressive effects, but the "possible positive effects" created by "a complex social function" (D&P 23)
  • Specificity: methods are "techniques possessing their own specificity," not "just" effects of a larger process or or structure, they are a "political tactic" in their own right (D&P 23)
  • Consubstantiality: penal systems and human sciences as part of a larger "epistemologico-juridical" formation (D&P 23)
  • Corporeality: the body is invested by power relations, the soul is "born...out of methods of punishment, supervision, and constraint" (D&P 29) and "is an effect of and instrument of a political anatomy; the body is the prisoner of the soul" (D&P 30)


On the Way to Biopower


The great book of Man-the-Machine was written simultaneously on two registers: the anatomico-metaphysical register, of which Descartes wrote the first pages and which the physicians and philosophers continued, and the technico-political register, which was constituted by a whole set of regulations and by empirical and calculated methods relating to the army, the school and the hospital, for controlling or correcting the operation of the body (D&P 136)


The techniques for manipulating docile bodies fall into four primary structures:

  • cellular - determining the spatial distribution of the bodies
  • organic - ensuring that the activities required of the bodies are "natural" for them
  • genetic - controlling the evolution over time of the activities of the bodies
  • combinatory - allowing for the combination of the force of many bodies into a single massive force

- credit: Protevi


Foucault Beyond Foucault: Extensions of the Foucauldian System


Foucault: Sovereign - Disciplinary - Biopolitical

Deleuze: Sovereign - Disciplinary - Control/Communication/Cybernetic

Hardt/Negri: Sovereign - Civil - Empire

Agamben: Biopolitics - Biopolitics - Biopolitics

Burroughs: Control (Control - Discipline - Control - Discipline - Control)


Shared Topoi


Withdrawal of physical violence


Change in Machinery

  • From "simple machines" to cybernetics
  • From the life sciences to molecular biology and genetic engineering
  • From fordist to post-fordist/just-in-time production/Toyotaist/flexible specialization
  • From production/manufacturing to sales, soft skills, and intellectual labor
  • From products and tools to support and operating systems
  • From time-motion studies to demographic profiling (a la Halo)


Decline in Sites of Confinement

  • From hospitals to telemedicine
  • From schools to distance/extended education
  • From prisons to house arrest, "privatized prisons," electronic monitoring, and outpatient therapy
  • From factories to the "learning organization," telecommuting, hotel-ing
  • From psychotherapy to psychotropics
  • From being trapped inside a network to being a node in the network



From Targeting the Soul to Targeting the Body


Change in Modes/Strategies of Opposition/Resistance

  • Corporations are the new social liberals
  • Republicans are the new Situationists
  • The private is the new common (two ways: Virno/Nealon vs. YouTube/MySpace)
  • Pomo/Poco fostering of "difference" moves from resistance to capitalist imperialism to tool of capitalist empire-alism; aberrant subjectivities are A-OK, even desirable

Foucault Beyond Foucault: Prisons in Control Societies


Primeiro Comando de Capital (PCC) and May 2006 / Sao Paulo Violence

cf. "City of Fear" (Vanity Fair April 2007)


Bobby Beausoleil

cf. "Inaugurator of the Pleasuredome" (Apocalypse Culture II or "Sympathy for the Devil")

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