Biopolitics designates an operative concept and an open question, and has been central to contemporary debates in philosophy and continental political theory. Moreover, it has informed and framed a multitude of critical studies in the humanities and the social sciences.
In order to offer an effective cartography of the shifting margins of contemporary biopolitical thought, this module will start from an exploration of Michel Foucault’s political and philosophical writings on the topic. In particular, we will engage with Foucault’s reflections on ‘life’ as a distinctively modern concept, and as a field of (power-)knowledge. In the second part, the module will focus on some of the most influential contemporary interpretations, elaborations and critiques of Foucault's seminal studies featuring the work of contemporary thinkers such as Giorgio Agamben, Antonio Negri, Roberto Esposito, Achille Mbembe and Cary Wolfe.