This anthology collects the texts that defined the concept of biopolitics, which has become so significant throughout the humanities and social sciences today. The far-reaching influence of the biopolitical—the relation of politics to life, or the state to the body—is not surprising given its centrality to matters such as healthcare, abortion, immigration, and the global distribution of essential medicines and medical technologies.
Michel Foucault gave new and unprecedented meaning to the term “biopolitics” in his 1976 essay “Right of Death and Power over Life.” In this anthology, that touchstone piece is followed by essays in which biopolitics is implicitly anticipated as a problem by Hannah Arendt and later altered, critiqued, deconstructed, and refined by major political and social theorists who explicitly engaged with Foucault’s ideas. By focusing on the concept of biopolitics, rather than applying it to specific events and phenomena, this Reader provides an enduring framework for assessing the central problematics of modern political thought.
Contributors. Giorgio Agamben, Hannah Arendt, Alain Badiou, Timothy Campbell, Gilles Deleuze, Roberto Esposito, Michel Foucault, Donna Haraway, Michael Hardt, Achille Mbembe, Warren Montag, Antonio Negri, Jacques Rancière, Adam Sitze, Peter Sloterdijk, Paolo Virno, Slavoj Žižek