Anderson, Ben, Affect and biopower: Towards a politics of life, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Volume 37, Issue 1, January 2012, Pages 28-43
In this paper I stage an encounter between two concepts that have become popular placeholders for a broad concern with a politics of life: affect and biopower. Through engagement with Antonio Negri’s writings on the ‘real subsumption of life’ in contemporary capitalism and Michel Foucault’s lectures on neoliberalism, I show that understanding how forms of biopower work through affect requires attending to three relations: affective relations and capacities are object-targets for discipline, biopolitics, security and environmentality; affective life is the outside through which new ways of living may emerge; and specific collective affects (including ‘state-phobia’) are part of the conditions for the birth of forms of biopower. In what is simultaneously a departure from, and an affirmation of, recent work on affect, I argue that attending to the dynamics of affective life may become political as a counter to forms of biopower that work through processes of normalisation. The consequence is that understanding how biopower works on and through affect becomes a precondition for developing affirmative relations with affective life.
Affect; Biopolitics; Biopower; Life; Neoliberalism; Non-representationaltheories