Essay-Review Nicolas Guilhot Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present Didier Fassin Translated by Rachel Gomme Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. xvi 324 pp. Forces of Compassion: Humanitarianism between Ethics and Politics Erica Bornstein and Peter Redfield, eds. Santa Fe: SAR Press, 2011. xi 320 pp. ` In the concluding session of his 1976 lecture at the College de France, Michel Foucault introduced the notion of ``biopower'' to designate a new set of political technologies emerging in the eighteenth century and developing throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These technologies no longer expressed the traditional right of life and death that the sovereign exercised over his subjects, nor did they discipline discrete bodies according to the functional requirements of war, economic production, justice, or education: instead, they operated over the seamless and anonymous surface of large populations. Demographics, epidemiology, social hygiene, psychiatry, but also their institutional and political inscription into healthcare systems, insurance regimes, social medicine, or urban planning policies sought to secure conditions optimizing the life of populations in its most immediate biological manifestation. Biopower does not just preserve extant life: it actively intervenes throughout the social body to augment it and reshapes society as
Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Feb 12, 2012
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