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This anthology collects the texts that defined the concept of biopolitics that 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.

In his famous 1976 essay, "Right of Death and Power over Life," Michel Foucault gave a new and unprecedented meaning to the term "biopolitics." 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 Ranciere, Adam Sitze, Peter Sloterdijk, Paolo Virno, Slavoj Zižek

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A compilation of the primary texts - by Foucault, Arendt, Agamben, Badiou, and other theorists - that laid the ground for contemporary thinking about biopolitics, or the relations between life and politics.

Promotional Information

A compilation of the primary texts - by Foucault, Arendt, Agamben, Badiou, and other theorists - that laid the ground for contemporary thinking about biopolitics, or the relations between life and politics.

Table of Contents

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 College 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 Ranciere 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

About the Author

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.


"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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