Rethinking the Biopolitical Turn: From the Thanatopolitical to the Geneapolitical Paradigm, by Chiara Bottici

Bottici rethinks the significance of the notion of “biopolitics” by placing it within the more general genealogy of “politics” and analyzing the philosophical implications of its emergence and proliferation: why has “biopolitics” emerged at a certain point in time and why did it emerge in that specific way? After briefly reconstructing two major breaks in the genealogy of “politics,” she argues that both Foucault’s and Agamben’s biopolitical models are entrenched in a Western philosophical tradition that has consistently privileged death over birth as the defining moment of our existential condition and is thus intrinsically thanatopolitical. But what if birth had both an ontological and a political priority over death—ontological because we die only as a consequence of having been born, and political because, while we may die alone, we are always born in the company of somebody else? If human beings are conceived as beings-after-birth, rather than beings-toward-death, a different perspective emerges: one that is both feminist and affirmative and that Bottici terms geneapolitical (from the ancient Greek γενεά, or birth).

Article available through Philosophy Documentation Center, here.

Chiara Bottici is Associate Professor of Philosophy at The New School for Social Research. She is the author of Imaginal Politics: Images Beyond Imagination and the Imaginary (Columbia, 2014), A Philosophy of Political Myth (Cambridge, 2010), and Men and States: Rethinking the Domestic Analogy in a Global Age (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), as well as (with Benoît Challand) The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations (Routledge, 2010). She is the co-editor (also with Challand) of The Politics of Imagination (Birkbeck Law Press, 2011), and has written numerous articles, including “Another Enlightenment: Spinoza on Myth and Imagination,” Constellations 19:4 (2012), and “Mythos and Logos,” Epoché 13:1 (2008).

Chiara Bottici, “Rethinking the Biopolitical Turn: From the Thanatopolitical to the Geneapolitical Paradigm,” Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 36:1 (2015), pp. 175–97.

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