Feminist Science Studies and Feminist Bio Politics

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Three-part lecture series on Feminist Science Studies and Feminist Biopolitics: Lecture 1: Precarious Life? Judith Butler’s Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence Professor Charis Thompson UC Berkeley / Yonsei / Ewha Seminar: “The Emergence of Life Politics in Neoliberal Capitalism” Yonsei University, Seoul, June 2008

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Woman and Policy

Transcript of Feminist Science Studies and Feminist Bio Politics

Three-part lecture series on Feminist Science Studies and Feminist Biopolitics:

Lecture 1: Precarious Life?Judith Butlers Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and ViolenceProfessor Charis Thompson UC Berkeley / Yonsei / Ewha Seminar: The Emergence of Life Politics in Neoliberal Capitalism Yonsei University, Seoul, June 2008

Schedule of Classes:Week 1: Wednesday lecture: Precarious Life? (feminist biopolitics and Judith Butlers Precarious Life) Discussion section: Presentation and Q&A on Making Parents Week 2: Wednesday lecture: Bare Life? (biopolitical geographies and histories and Giorgio Agambens Homo Sacer) Discussion section: Panel on Gender, Everyday Life and Exceptional Life, with Professors Cho, Kim, and Thompson Week 3: Wednesday lecture: Beyond Humanism? (feminist technoscience studies and Donna Haraways Cyborg and Companion Species Manifestoes) Discussion section: student presentations with feedback from Professors Cho, Kim, and Thompson

What is biopolitics? Michel Foucault: biopolitics relates closely to his idea of biopower, which is characteristic of the form of government (modern nation state / capitalism), governmentality, that regulates through interventions on populations (census, reproduction, family, sexuality, etc), and is power over life and death Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri refer rather to anti-capitalist insurrection where ones life and body are mobilized as weapons, including 'in its most tragic and revolting form', suicide terrorism. Biopower for them is the hegemonic, sovereign, political condition for the activation of biopolitics. The term also has a considerable legitimacy in more everyday life meaning bioethics, life science policy, all kinds of political activism to do with living things, and the political and cultural aspects of the rise of biotechnology and the biomedicalization of society

What is feminist biopolitics? Feminist biopolitics from humanities (e.g. Buter we are discussing today; Shiva, Braidotti) Feminist biopolitics from social sciences (e.g. bioethics, sociology and anthropology of life and death) Feminist science and technology studies (e.g. Donna Haraway, myself, and many, many others) Goals of each Spatialization and temporalization of each Agency in each Modes of analysis Styles of writing and arguing

Feminist / Queer theoretical strands of Butler

Importance of vulnerability and the potential to be injured Importance of mourning and loss Role of womens, ethno-national, racial minorities, and sexual minorities experiences politically, and during war Legacy of AIDS; hate crime legislation in US Appropriation of womens rights as a justification of war

Judith Butlers Precarious Life, by Chapters Explanation and Exoneration, or What We Can Hear (or, why the role of the US in September 11, 2001, can and should be analysed, without condoning the attack so as to grieve for all lost lives) Violence, Mourning, Politics (on the fundamental aspect of precariousness to injury and mourning in our current humanism, starting with Freud) Indefinite Detention (on sovereignty and governmentality overlap in Guantanamo, as evidenced by the state of exception in war prison) The Charge of Anti-Semitism (why it is legitimate to criticize Israel and Zionism, and to support Palestinian statehood as an American Jew, despite charges that this is tantamount to anti-semitism) Precarious Life (starting as a meditation on the role of the humanities in late capitalist research universities, and after post-structuralism, becomes an elaboration of the Levinasian idea of giving face to all lives in the recognition of the precariousness of that face)

What does this do to biopolitics? Are there populations, sovereigns, nation states? Which ones? What part does capitalism / markets play? Who is she talking about? What world does she fear she is living in and what world does she advocate for? What action should we take? What about thanato- / necropolitics?

Three-part lecture series on Feminist Science Studies and Feminist Biopolitics:

Lecture 2: Bare LifeGiorgio Agambens Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Part IIIProfessor Charis Thompson UC Berkeley / Yonsei / Ewha Seminar: The Emergence of Life Politics in Neoliberal Capitalism Yonsei University, Seoul, June 2008

Homo Sacer, Part III Giorgio Agamben, Professor of Philosophy, University of Verona, Italy. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (1995; in English 1998) is in three parts; we are concerned today with Part III. Part I: The Logic of Sovereignty Part II: Homo Sacer Part III: The Camp as Biopolitical Paradigm of the Modern

Introduction Distinction between zoe and bios, from Greeks: Zoe: simple fact of living common to all living beings Bios: way of living proper to an individual or group Inherits political theory tradition whereby polis is separated from oikos (home) and the latter is taken to be concerned with reproduction and outside the polity (in feminist theory, the personal is political; reproductive technologies, etc., undermine this distinction; Agamben does not take up any feminist biopolitical work in Homo Sacer) Sets up for bios as sacred life (can be killed, not sacrificed), and zoe as bare life (can be sacrificed; doesnt amount to murder) as modes of subjectification in modernity

Agambens humanism The bios for the genus zoon of human, that which distinguishes humans from all other animals for Aristotle/ Agamben, is a supplement of politicity tied to language, on a community not simply of the pleasant and the painful but of the good and the evil and of the just and the unjust. Ties this to definition of city (primordial expression of the collective political life): the end of the city is life according to the good. The wolf-man is barred from the city; in modernity bare life is produced within the nation (Compare to Butler, for whom precarious life is a injurability that is both zoe and bios, and is not derivative of / co-incident with the city, measured by fear of/susceptibility to violence toward oneself and mourning for the injured other)

1: The Politicization of Life Starts with Foucaults modern man is an animal whose whose politics calls his existence as a living being into question, with Hannah Arendts focus on totalitarianism, total domination, and concentration camps, claiming that she left out biopolitics and he left out paying attention to totalitarian states of C20th. His idea of the politicization of life brings together these two strands. Unlike Foucault epistemes, Agamben sees the river of biopolitics that gave homo sacer his life runs its course in a hidden but continuous fashion. Totalitarianism and mass democracy drive it to its limit in the camp The corpus of early modern period (habeas corpus) becomes the body that can be killed, not sacrificed

2: Biopolitics and the Rights of Man The importance of the refugee of the modern nation state, who breaks the continuity between man and citizen, nativity and nationality and puts the originary fiction of modern sovereignty in crisis. Rights of man designed to be universally appealed to in times of bare life but cannot be understood outside the nation state conferring those rights. The refugee must be considered for what he is, nothing less than a limit concept that radically calls into question the fundamental categories of the nation-state, from the birth-nation to the man-citizen link Sees current separation between humanitarianim and politics as another example (others might not agree)

3: Life that Does not Deserve to Live After WWI, the move to extend the unpunishability of the killing of life beyond suicide and state of emergency to third party (without it being homicide) Development of definition and practice of life that does not deserve to live Not economic or eugenic efficiency to kill those deemed unworthy; its about establishing biopolitics through one of its characteristics, the blending of medicine and politics Euthanasia signals the point at which biopolitics necessarily turns into thanatopolitics

4: Politics, of Giving Form to the Life of a People The fight against internal and external enemies of the State (politics) and the care and growth of the national body / citizens (police) become indistinguishable Race as understood for the Jews in National Socialism is thus not defined phenotypically but uses a language of genetics and heredity to bind it to eugenics and euthanasia, bringing these two together

5: VP VPs, or Versuchspersonen, human guinea pigs, is one of the most terrifying aspects of Nazi biopolitics Physician and scientist move into sovereigns territory, deciding on life and death, and what is a nationally worthwhile sacrifice (prisoners lives for soldiers lives, for example) Importance of idea that science under National Socialism is not bad science but is good science in the sense of being well organized and based on scientifically sound method; this flies in the face of many common assumptions about science and medicine and about Nazi medicine in particular

6: Politicizing Death The coma depasse (over-coma) and the beginnings of brain death, where life support keeps body functioning to become a source of organs and body parts for the triaged sick The words life and death become unscientific words; the state is able, through law and medicine, to take over defining death and the limits of life

7: The Camp as the Nomos of the Modern Agamben argues that it is not the city but rather the camp that is the fundamental biopolitical paradigm of the West; the political space of modernity itself Sets up the camp as an idea that can be applied (however dubiously) in many situations: the camp consists in the materialization of the state of exceptionwe find ourselves virtually in the preesnce of a camp every time such a structure is created.. And in a different yet analgous way, todays democratico-capitalist project of eliminating the poor classes through development not only reproduces within itelf the people that is (sic) excluded but also transforms the entire population of the Third World into bare life.

Appeal of book The intuitive sense that can be made of the ideas of some people being not just more or less valued but that some are valued and some are both invisible and objects of violence / disproportionately subject to violence (different registers though mutually constitutive) The proposition that the concentration camp can be model for other similar situations which encourages others to use it as a model for other Others to the political order, without empirical constraint The actual examples beyond the camp are not as compelling in that they lose the intuitive appeal above e.g. the brain dead patient is a very different kind of zoe from the concentration camp prisoner, as is the resident of the Third World, or the racialized domestic citizen

Where does Agamben leave us?Sovereign and camp as the twin extremes of modernity, states of exception, where zoe and bios collapse, as it were in opposite directions (sovereign is so pure bios that even his zoe is performatively bios; Muselmann in concentration camp is so pure zoe that his inanimate lack of reaction to torture is bios) Wants us, at the end of part III, to return to some kind of equilibrium on this spectrum where zoe and bios are distinguishable, and a classic ontologically autonomous political sphere, distinguishable from bare life, is reinstated; wants to save the political / human

Problems with this STS posits that zoe / bios are always connected, and tries empirically to show how in different times and places, especially new biologies which are rapidly remaking both zoe and bios, as well as their connections through technical and material means E.g. my notion of selective pronatalism which is situated in what I call a biotech mode of reproduction, and my newer work on genomics

Neoliberalism? Capitalism? Considering we are to using capitalism, neoliberalism, and all the kinds of affect that go with the market to explain things from biomedicalization to celebrity fetishism, it is very interesting that neither Bulter nor Agamben have anything whatsoever to say about capital, markets free trade. Consumerism, or bio-economies Counter publics to neoliberalism are expressions of agency; of bios

Relationship with God; Creativity; Resistance; Humanity in Abjection Also doesnt consider traditions of thought that consider suffering to be key to bios, such as being productive of a relationship with God, or a spur to creativity - that it is a kind of trivial/self-centered subjectivity if not earned through experience Resistance of all forms (candlelight protest??) Meaning and subject-hood among those who suffer, in one anothers eyes, even if homo sacer, bare life, in the gaze of the nation state (e.g. even in accounts of the camp, people engaged in extraordinary acts of humanity such as a mother giving insufficient rations to a child); in other words there is both great humanity and intersubjectivity in abjection