Michel Foucault’s notion of “biopower” has been a highly fertile concept in recent theory, influencing thinkers worldwide across a variety of disciplines and concerns. In
The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Foucault famously employed the term to describe “a power bent on generating forces, making them grow, and ordering them, rather than one dedicated to impeding them, making them submit, or destroying them.” With this volume, Vernon W. Cisney and Nicolae Morar bring together leading contemporary scholars to explore the many theoretical possibilities that the concept of biopower has enabled while at the same time pinpointing their most important shared resonances.
Situating biopower as a radical alternative to traditional conceptions of power—what Foucault called “sovereign power”—the contributors examine a host of matters centered on life, the body, and the subject as a living citizen. Altogether, they pay testament to the lasting relevance of biopower in some of our most important contemporary debates on issues ranging from health care rights to immigration laws, HIV prevention discourse, genomics medicine, and many other topics.
Vernon W. Cisney is a visiting assistant professor of philosophy at Gettysburg College. He is the author of
Derrida’s “Voice and Phenomenon”: An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide, as well as coeditor or cotranslator of several other books.
Nicolae Morar is assistant professor of philosophy and environmental studies and an associate member with the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Oregon. He is coeditor or co-translator of several books, including
Perspectives in Bioethics, Science and Public Policy.
Biopower is a remarkable book. Although it contains essays written by the most important and well-known commentators on Foucault, it is really more than a study of Foucault’s concept of biopower. The majority of the essays expands, extends, and transforms the concept of biopower. Like all of the essays in the volume, the introduction written by Morar and Cisney is excellent. They are to be congratulated not only for organizing such an impressive volume, but guiding us through it with their analysis. This will be the definitive volume on biopower for decades to come.”
— Leonard Lawlor, Penn State University
Biopower, Cisney and Morar have assembled a stellar collection of essays from some of the leading scholars working in Foucault studies today. One of the volume’s strongest features is its dissemination of the concept of biopower beyond Foucault’s use of it. Topics as diverse as the life sciences, the birth of statistics, contemporary medicine, HIV prevention, race, gender, and the Arab uprisings are all examined from the viewpoint of the concepts of biopower and biopolitics, demonstrating their continuing relevance. This will be a crucial book for Foucault studies, for biopolitical studies, and for our contemporary understanding of what Foucault called ‘the history of the present.’”