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Foucault. Right of death and power over life.


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Foucault. Right of death and power over life.

  2. 2. Outline1. Introduction to Michel Foucault His Life2. The History of Sexuality Context in which it was written3. Right of death and power over life. (Analysis of poweraccording Foucault) Sovereign power Foucault’s great transformation Bio power (Anatomo politics of the human body and the bio-politicsof the human body) Bio power and Sexuality Some examples4. Discussion questions
  3. 3. 1. Introduction to Michel Foucault Born Paul-Michel Foucault in Poitiers, France onOctober 15, 1926.Foucault’s father was a surgeon who hopedMichel would follow in his footstepsKnown for his critical studies of various socialinstitutions, including medicine, education,psychiatry and his work on the history of sexualityInfluenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, ImmanuelKant and Georges Dumézil. He died of an AIDS-related illness on June 16,1984; the 1st high profile French personality to bereported as an AIDS victim.1926 - 1984His life
  4. 4. 2. The History of SexualityContext1939-45 World War II1961 Construction of the Berlin Wall1964 Vietman War1968 May 68. Protest in France The History of Sexuality, originally slated to be a six-volume project, wasnever fully published due to restrictions within its estate.
  5. 5. 3. Right of death and power over life.
  6. 6. Sovereign power(territory)Power over deathXVISwordXVIIPower over lifeDiscipline power(individuals)InstitutionsXVIIIPower over lifeBio power(population)NormBio politicsSymbolics ofbloodAnalytics ofsexuality
  7. 7. Sovereign power. The right to take “life” or let live Sovereign power involves obedience to the law of theking or central authority figure. It was conditioned by the defense of the sovereign,and his own survival. Its symbol, after all, was the sword.
  8. 8. Foucault’s Great Transformation“One might say that the ancient right to take life or let live was replaced by apower to foster life or disallow it to the point of death… The setting up, inthe course of the classical age, of this great bipolar technology– anatomicand biological, individualizing and specifying, directed toward theperformances of the body… characterized a power whose highest functionwas perhaps no longer to kill, but to invest life through and through”(193-94).shift in the right of death  power that exerts a positive influence onlife  subjecting it to administer, regulate, optimize, control
  9. 9. Discipline power Politicisation of the body Direct power of the state to theindividual Anatomic politics of the humanbody
  10. 10. Bio-power"an explosion of numerous and diversetechniques for achieving thesubjugations of bodies and the controlof populations" (p. 140)Bio-politics: health policy security relationship between resources andinhabitants circulation of wealth
  11. 11. Sovereign power(territory)Power over deathXVISwordXVIIPower over lifeDiscipline power(individuals)InstitutionsXVIIIPower over lifeBio power(population)NormBio politicsSymbolics ofbloodAnalytics ofsexuality
  12. 12. Example warshift towards the whole population:right to kill those who represented a kind of“biological danger” to others“Wars are no longer waged in the name of asovereign who must be defended; they are waged inbehalf of the existence of everyone; entirepopulations are mobilized for the purpose ofwholesale slaughter in the name of life necessity:massacres have become vital.” p. 137Example death penalty“How could power exercise its highestprerogatives by putting people to death, when itsmain role was to ensure, sustain and multiply life,to put this life in order?” p. 138
  13. 13. “Sex as a political issue”Sex was a means of access both to the life of thebody and the life of the species.Instead of saying that sex is repressed by power,he points out that the combination of power,knowledge and pleasure constructs the socialexistence of sex.He uses historical analysis to show how the powerapparatuses penetrate into society andindividual and how power will of knowledgeencourage people to practice and speak out sex.
  14. 14.  Foucault highlights 4 lines of attackthat the politics of sex play upon: The sexualization of children The hysterization of women The solidity of the family institution The safeguarding of society
  15. 15. Some examples in the world.
  16. 16.  Do you agree with Foucault’s assessment that our society isbased on bio-power? Based on Foucault’s writing, what issues does our societycurrently face that may be seen as threats to the currentnation state based on bio-power? Do you think that the “liberation” which is promoted by thesystem is real or just another kind of repression?
  17. 17. References•• Foucault, Michel. 1976 The History of Sexuality. Paris• Lazzarato, Maurizio. 2006. Del Biopoder a la Biopolítica.• Petra Gehring: "Was ist Biomacht? Vom zweifelhaften Mehrwertdes Lebens"; Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2006.• Volker Gerhardt: "Selbstbestimmung in der Biopolitik"; in: Vorgänge175 (2006).