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Fully automated episode 2: biopolitical imperialism, with Mark G.E. Kelly

Podcast

Our guest this week is Mark G. E. Kelly, an Associate Professor in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at Western Sydney University. He is the author of The Political Philosophy of Michel Foucault (2009), as well as of Biopolitical Imperialism (from Zer0 books, in 2015) and he is also working on a book called ‘For Foucault: Against Normative Political Theory’ (SUNY, expected 2018).

Kelly has weighed in a number of recent ‘Foucault’ controversies, including the question of whether Foucault was a neoliberal. In this interview, we get into that debate. But I think for most listeners, the interesting stuff will be towards the end, where Kelly talks about Biopolitical Imperialism, and addresses the conflict in Syria.

The podcast was recorded on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. In the interview, you’ll hear Kelly comment on Donald Trump’s pivot a few days previous, on Syria. Two days after the recording, on April 7, the US military launched a cruise missile attack on a Syrian airfield. The attack was carried out in response to a chemical weapons incident in Idlib province, perpetrated allegedly by Syrian state forces. It would be hard to imagine a stronger confirmation of Kelly’s arguments about Biopolitical Imperialism.

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Podcast

Bryan Cooke and Mark Kelly discuss Foucault, biopolitics, modernity, the role of the intellectual in politics, and Foucault, March 18, 2016

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Wendy Brown. In the account of Neoliberalism. 2016

European Graduate School Video Lectures

Published on Jan 25, 2017
http://www.egs.edu Wendy Brown, Professor of Philosophy at The European Graduate School / EGS. Saas-Fee Switzerland. August 13 2016.

Wendy Brown is Professor of Political Science at the University of California Berkeley. Her research interests include the history of political and social theory, Continental philosophy, and critical theory, together with the examination of contemporary capitalism. In her research into the problems that plague contemporary capitalism and neoliberalism, she employs theoretical works of Michel Foucault, Max Weber, Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, and Frankfurt school.

In 1983, Wendy Brown received her doctoral degree from Princetown University. She subsequently taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz and also at Williams College. Since 1999, she has been teaching at the University of California, Berkeley.

Edgework: Critical Essays on Knowledge and Politics (2005) consists of seven articles which were all written for some particular occasion. Brown emphasises this trait of her book and claims that “such occasions mimic, in certain ways, the experience of the political realm: one is challenged to think here, now, about a problem that is set and framed by someone else, and to do so before a particular audience or in dialogue with others not of one’s own choosing.” Every essay in this book begins with a particular problem: what is the relationship between love, loyalty, and dissent in contemporary American political life?; how did neoliberal rationality become a form of governmentality?; what are the main problems of women’s studies programs?, etc. According to Brown, the aim of these essays is not to produce definitive answers to the given questions but “to critically interrogate the framing and naming practices, challenge the dogmas (including those of the Left and of feminism), and discern the constitutive powers shaping the problem at hand.”

In Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire (2006), Wendy Brown subverts the usual and widely accepted conception that tolerance is one of the most remarkable achievements of the modern Western world. She argues that tolerance cannot be perceived as a complete opposite to violence, but that can also be used to justify violence. In order to substantiate this thesis, Brown associates tolerance with figures like George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Samuel Huntington, Susan Okin, Michael Ignatieff, Bernard Lewis, and Seyla Benhabib and claims that “tolerance as a political practice is always conferred by the dominant, it is always a certain expression of domination even as it offers protection or incorporation to the less powerful.”

Walled States, Waning Sovereignty (2010) examines the revival of wall-building in the contemporary world. She shows that the function of these walls is ultimately problematic because they cannot stop crimes, migration, or smuggling, cannot play a defensive role in the case of a war like they did in the past, and they cannot do anything against potential terrorist attacks. However, even if they cannot stop all these threats, walls still have an important symbolic function which Brown explores in her book.

Her most recent work Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (2015) uses Michel Foucault’s The Birth of Biopolitics to analyze the hollowing and evisceration of democracy under neoliberal rationality. Brown describes neoliberalism as a furtive attack on the very foundation of democracy. She treats “neoliberalism as a governing rationality through which everything is “economized” and in a very specific way: human beings become market actors and nothing but, every field of activity is seen as a market, and every entity (whether public or private, whether person, business, or state) is governed as a firm. Importantly, this is not merely a matter of extending commodification and monetization everywhere, as in the old Marxist depiction of capital’s transformation of everyday life. Neoliberalism construes even non-wealth generating spheres—such as learning, dating, or exercising—in market terms, submits them to market metrics, and governs them with market techniques and practices. Above all, it casts people as human capital who must constantly tend to their own present and future value.” To be saved, democracy again needs to become not only the object of theoretical rethinking but also of political struggle.

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A Foucauldian Take on Border Violence and Mediterranean Acts of Escape, Maurice Stierl, 04/25/16

Audio of lecture

Co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Law and Society, Townsend Center for the Humanities: Course Thread on Law and the Humanities, and the Institute of European Studies.

The unauthorized mass-movements of 2015, when more than a million people crossed maritime borders into European space, demonstrated more clearly than ever before that Europe’s deterrence politics had failed. The necropolitical obstacle course created by its border regime proved unable to prevent these disobedient mobilities. What we witness today, while often termed a “migrant or refugee crisis,” is in fact a crisis of the European project. Current processes of internal re-bordering along sovereign nation-state lines and logics significantly undermine Europe’s supposed post-national ethos and trans-border imaginary. In this talk Stierl explores “Europe in crisis” and relates to some of the experiences he made through his own activist involvement in “border struggles,” as part of the activist collective ‘WatchTheMed Alarm Phone’ that has created a “hotline” for people in distress at sea. Advocating the freedom of movement and seeking to democratize maritime borderzones, the collective has created a presence in spaces seemingly reserved for sovereign state actors and has facilitated the safe arrival of thousands of travelers. In this talk he also draws from three “moments” in Michel Foucault’s writing and thought that help us think conceptually through the relationship between (migrations’) excess and (borders’) control and prompt us to reflect on the ways in which “Mediterranean acts of escape” transform the European socio-political landscape and community.

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Published on Dec 8, 2016
Course: Contemporary Sociology Theory – WEEK 10 – Foucault and History of Sexuality – 1
Instructor: Assoc. Prof. Erdoğan Yıldırım

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As part of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Religion Forum 2009-10 Lecture Series, Mark D. Jordan, Richard Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Divinity at HDS, presented “Reading Foucault: Becoming Again What We Never Were” on April 12, 2010. This event was sponsored by the Committee on Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Religion at Harvard.

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