Neoliberalism + Biopolitics – Conference at Berkeley, 27-28 Feb 2015. Speakers include Étienne Balibar, Wendy Brown, Bernard Harcourt, and Achille Mbembe…
Over the past two decades neoliberalism and biopolitics have emerged as essential terms for critical theorists of all stripes attempting to analyze ongoing transformations in social and political life. As both objects of study and frames for analysis, neoliberalism and biopolitics have served as key ciphers for those attempting to appreciate the novelty of contemporary political rationalities, forms of social control, technological developments, and economic orders. This conference aims to produce a conversation among major thinkers currently working to develop and problematize these two concepts. Envisioned as a dialogue among diverse theorists, we hope to extend the discussion across disciplinary lines by bringing together scholars from both the humanities and social sciences.
Michel Foucault’s 1978-79 College de France lectures famously linked biopolitics and neoliberalism at both the historical and conceptual level; contemporary usage of both terms, however, extends well beyond Foucault’s original articulation. Part of the ambition of this conference is to interrogate the compatibility or incommensurability of different approaches seeking to deploy both concepts. Along these lines, we hope to probe the possibilities and limitations of neoliberalism and biopolitics as paradigms for critically analyzing how power operates in late capitalist modernity.
Thanks to Mark Ajita for the link.
Ian Bogost discusses the problems of email in The Atlantic.
Email is the worst, but some emails are worse than others. The worst emails are forwards. And the worst forwards? Not the jokes your uncle sends you from his AOL account, but the ones your boss or your coworkers send along from some obscure corner of Administrivistan.
Most work emails are purely defensive missives. They seek to shift effort, hide omissions, or provide cover against future blame. Emails simulate work: Rather than getting something done, you create a futures market for excuses and rationales for not getting them done. Thanks to precarity, the modern workplace demands the construction of layers of protective virtual ramparts to shield the worker from possible future reproach. (more here)
“Europe After The Minotaur” – free e-book from the new Finance Minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, available from Zed books. You need to register, but it’s a quick process. The book contains excerpts from his longer book The Global Minotaur. Europe After the Minotaur.
If you want to read more, Varoufakis has a website here, and the Society and Space open site hosted a forum of four posts just before the Greek elections which is available open access here – contributions from John Agnew, Peter Bratsis, Costas Douzinas, and Antonis Vradis.
Franco Moretti on Lukács’s Theory of the Novel – Centenary Reflections, in New Left Review (open access).
The Birth of Territory is reviewed in Theory, Culture and Society by Dennis Crow (open access). Here’s the first paragraph:
Elden deserves every accolade he receives for a remarkable book. That phrase might suffice for a review, but it would hide the erudition that sets his book apart. What is the territory of the Birth of Territory? The ostensible territory is stratified with texts, which figure “territory” as a concept and practice, or “technology” of political power. Elden is not trying to find a mere intersection or conflation of geography and political theory. Geography and political theory are intertwined with many crossroads in texts, political events, state rule, force, and economics. We have not reached the terminus of this conceptual path. Political power evolved to confine a state’s legitimate territory as a closed polygon on a map and borders on the ground; while “territory” became a foundational concept of some political theory after the fact of states’ geographic reach.
It’s a dense and difficult review, using vocabulary and concepts outside my study to reappropriate the work. In particular it brings the work into contact with Deleuze and Guattari. I did appreciate the way it read the book alongside my earlier Terror and Territory – something I’d always had in mind, but which some criticisms of The Birth of Territory seem to neglect.
Aside from the theme issue mentioned earlier, I’ve made some other updates to the Ebola reading list on this site.