Suffocation and the Logic of Immunopolitics

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In this chapter, I argue that the traditional opposition between sovereignty and biopower is often artificial, and that sovereignty as a scheme of thought is more pervasive than is sometimes accounted for in biopolitical studies. Second, I demonstrate how contemporary biopolitics is best thought of as immunopolitics, by following the work of Esposito and Neyrat. Modern societies and human collectives have changed their relation to the munus, they feel exempted from obligations and duties – and equating taxes with a burden is particularly symptomatic of this exemption. As a complement to the existing life-affirming and death drives, Neyrat noted that a third drive is central to biopolitical rationality: the drive to remain untouched. This drive is further strengthened by a large technical, political and financial infrastructure that is created by the increasing interconnectedness produced by globalisation. Nancy on the other hand argued that the becoming-technical of the world is the dominant feature of globalisation; the biopolitical discourse documents this becoming-technical when analysing the management of life, birth and mortality rates, reproductive medicine, post-Fordist exploitation of life as affective and digital labour and so on. Thus, Nancy poses that biopolitics should be thought in terms of ecotechnics instead. Therefore my brief turn to ecology and global climate change, since the intersectional politics to come can only take place if it reunites the four axes: race, gender, class and nature (Keucheyan 2016, 5). As Esposito’s affirmative biopolitics is rather abstract and disconnected from practical politics, particularly the issues of climate change and technological disruption, it is then Neyrat’s proposition for an ecology of separation that provides new theoretical insights to confront more directly the political emergencies of our time.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiopolitical Governance
Subtitle of host publicationRace, Gender and Economy
EditorsHannah Richter
PublisherRowman & Littlefield International Ltd
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781786602725
ISBN (Print)9781786602701, 9781786602718
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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