Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Theory and Criticism


Calin Mihailescu


The concept of biopolitics tends towards universal applicability and thus analytical impotency. By examining Foucault’s lecture seminars that address this concept directly and indirectly, this project aims to delimit its coordinates for future use. To do so, I begin by looking at the way biopolitical discourses on the population constituted liberal governmentality in the eighteenth century. This analysis will be supplemented by a cartography of the surfaces on which biopolitics emerges before and within liberalism, affecting its formation. I will therefore map out the formation of two objects that characterize modern biopower: the ‘natural’ body of the individual and the ‘natural’ body of the population. This will open up the problem of normalization and the constitution of a regime of truth run through with relations of power. Counter-posed to the disciplines, the dispositif of security will be shown to produce normalizing effects at the level of probable events, congealing them into realities of their own. The naturalness of the population will be normalized as such a reality constituting biopolitics as a politics of the chance event of life.

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