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    This article was downloaded by: [University Of Melbourne] On: 6 July 2010 Accessdetails: Access Details: [subscription number 907695171] Publisher Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 3741 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Rethinking Marxism

    Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t713395221

    The Question of Biopower: Foucault and AgambenKatia Genel

    To cite this Article Genel, Katia(2006) 'The Question of Biopower: Foucault andAgamben', Rethinking Marxism, 18: 1, 43

    62

    To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/08935690500410635 URL: http://dx.doi.org/1

    0.1080/08935690500410635

    PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLEFull terms and conditions of use: http://www.informaworld.com/terms-and-conditions-of-access.pdf This article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. The publisher does not give any warranty express orimplied or make any representation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug doses should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with or

    arising out of the use of this material.

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    RETHINKING MARXISM

    VOLUME 18

    NUMBER 1

    (JANUARY 2006)

    The Question of Biopower: Foucault and AgambenKatia Genel Translated by Craig CarsonDownloaded By: [University Of Melbourne] At: 23:18 6 July 2010

    According to Foucault, a transformation in the exercise of power comes to lightbeginning with the eighteenth century, as life itself becomes an object of concern for power. Biopower is the term he uses to describe the new mechanisms and tactics of power focused on life (that is to say, individual bodies and populations),distinguishing such mechanisms from those that exert their influence within thelegal and political sphere of sovereign power. In Homo Sacer, Agamben takes up Foucaults analysis and reestablishes it on the very terrain that the latter had wa

    nted to break from: the field of sovereignty. Agamben argues that sovereign power is not linked to the capacity to bear rights, but is covertly linked to a bare life, which is life included in the political realm by a paradoxical exclusion, exposed to the violence and the decision of sovereign power. In this text, I bringinto relief the extent to which Agamben shifts the meaning and content of Foucaults notion of biopower, which he grafts onto another terrain. What is of interestis the examination of this notion of biopower when applied to sovereign power,in order to assess its relevance and fruitfulness as well as what it brings to our understanding of modernity. Key Words: Biopolitics, Biopower, Exception, Sovereignty, Agamben

    The hypothesis of biopower, which Foucault formulated at a turning point in hisinvestigations, brings to light a specific mode of exercising power: beginning w

    ith the eighteenth century, life is the privileged stakes of power. It is the life of individual bodies, objects of an anatomo-politics that are concerned and,in this respect, Foucault is engaged in a continuation of his analysis of disciplines. More precisely, however, beginning with the second half of the eighteenthcentury, the stakes of political strategies become the life of the human species, thereby marking a societys threshold of biological modernity (Foucault 1978, 143hat is then at issue are the biological processes affecting populations and demanding to be regulated by an insuring (assurantiel ) or regulatory power that, inthe final chapter of the first volume of The History of Sexuality (1976), is specifically designated biopolitics. In Agambens work, biopower functions as a thesis rather than a hypothesis, a thesis concerning the very structure of power, the origin of which is directly related to life. The logic of sovereignty is a logic of capturing life, a logic of isolating a bare life as an exception. This life is exposed not only to the sovereigns violence andISSN 0893-5696 print/1475-8059 online/06/010043-20 2006 Association for Economicand Social Analysis DOI: 10.1080/08935690500410635

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    power over death but also, more generally, to a decision that qualifies it and determines its value. Sovereign power establishes itself and perpetuates itself by producing a biopolitical body on which it is exercised. Agambens thesis is formulat

    ed not only in the work Homo Sacer (1995) but also in the succeeding text, Remnants of Auschwitz (1998), as well as in some contemporary articles collected under the title Means Without End (2000). The question of biopower, which is not Agambens central concern, is annexed to another problematic that animates all his writings: the perpetual definition or redefinition of the human. Foucaults hypothesis, which was taken up by Agamben as a thesis, is indeed concerned with a question of biopower: the question of a particular juncture between two terms, power and life, which requires that both be redefined. This question of biopower, thisjuncture of life and power, constitutes a part of a multidirectional and nonunified history of political techniques or the art of governing, the stakes of whichare life. It is not necessarily, however, a history that intersects with a history in which politics is given a vitalist foundation. While Foucault clearly sit

    uates himself more immediately within the first of the two histories, it is evident from the outset that the problematic character of the notion of biopolitics*/or, even more, biopower*/results from Agambens implicit attempt to grasp the twotogether, or rather, to articulate one with respect to the other. Approaching the problem of biopower by questioning Foucault and Agamben in this way opens upa double series of interrogations. First, there is a question of elucidating thereciprocal determination of the two terms, power and life, in light of their juncture and the relation they sustain. How do these very general notions specifically determine one another within biopower? It is necessary, initially, to define the life that is implicated in power: is it a question of a body (the object of disciplines and surveillance); a labor-power; a biological life (the life of the ill or the life of populations); an existence (such as Foucaults lowly and infamous lives, which are, like Herculine Barbin, bound up with and traversed by power)

    ; a bare life (life destined to die with the utter impunity of Homo sacer ); or,instead, a survival (the life of an individual in an overcoma [en coma de passe Conversely, power is modified ])? by the introduction of life into its terrain and preoccupations. This transformation of power must be understood as the transformation both of the way in which power is exercised or manifested and, at the same time, of the manner in which we must understand its processes. For Foucault, thehypothesis of a biopower clearly implies a redefinition of power. More important, however, it also implies a redefinition of the manner in which one grasps holdof power, a redefinition that will allow one to grasp power in the intersticeswhere it had remained undetected. Biopower is a uniquely modern mechanism that,even if it is bound up with the old sovereign power at various times and in variousmodalities, remains distinct with respect to it. Insofar as it functions throughtechnologies of power, biopower must be analyzed in the concrete operations ofits most localized procedures as well as in the manner in which it integrates itself into the more general processes of sovereignty and the law. Is it thereforelegitimate or even pertinent for Agamben, who locates the concept of biopower at the very nucleus of the concept of sovereignty, to transpose biopower into sovereigntys originary architecture? Agamben invokes biopower in order to think

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    FOUCAULT, AGAMBEN, AND BIOPOWER

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    political space in its entirety, which thus functions according to the matrix ofthe camp*/the paradigm of biopower in the extreme insofar as it is the space ofa radical decision on bare life. In this light, the notion of biopower calls fo

    r a transformation of what one understands by the term politics. If one admits that, as Foucault suggests, life is the privileged stakes of power and that modernman is an animal whose politics places his existence as a living being in question (Foucault 1978, 143), is it possible to complete this formula, as Agamben does,by its inversion, according to which we are citizens whose very politics is at issue in their natural body (Agamben 1998, 188)? Beyond these questions concerning the redefinition of life and power implicated by the hypothesis or thesis of a biopower, a second series of interrogations emerges from the confrontation of these two positions; it is a series of interrogations that stems from the question of Agambens rereading of Foucaults hypothesis. One must first determine the stakesof Foucaults analysis, formulated in the 1976 lectures, Society Must Be Defended,as well as at the end of the first volume of The History of Sexuality, in which

    biopolitics is not the central object. The hypothesis of biopower is bound up with a redefinition of power which is finally not brought to completion along these lines, but which is instead compelled to introduce the question of the subject. In The Subject and Power, Foucault reinterprets his work, writing that his overriding theme is not power but the subject. This shift of emphasis is legible in the reflections on pastoral power and governmentality, reformulations of biopowerin which the emphasis is placed on the subject and which ultimately open onto the question of the technologies of the self. Can Agamben legitimately reinterpretFoucaults thought starting from what is an admittedly essential but nonethelesstransitory and brief moment of his thought, the hypothesis of biopower? In his rereading, Agamben poses the question of a unitary theory of power within Foucaults work, attempting to find the bilateral connection that would unite the notionof political techniques and the technologies of the self, not on the side of the

    subject but on the side of power. But in order to reconstitute the unity of theFoucauldian analyses of power, Agamben carries out a displacement of his interrogation onto the terrain of sovereignty and the law, a terrain Foucault had abandoned. Does Agambens analysis realize the completion of Foucaults project by virtue of this abandoned question, or even by virtue of objects*/the camps, Nazi biopolitics*/that Foucault had never treated at any length? Foucaults hypothesis is in effect open, nonunified; it can be thought of as a work in progress with conceptual tools that are both rich and malleable, and as a result it is able to authorize numerous appropriations. Even if Agamben, in appropriating biopower, proposes to complete or even to correct Foucaults analyses, the synthetic aim of his poes not appear ultimately to accomplish this task. Is it then a question of a critique of Foucault? Or a radical infidelity? Or even an entirely incompatible objective? It is necessary to pose the question of the pertinence, or even the productivity, of the notion of biopower for deciphering current politics in terms of the enigmas of the century (such as Nazism) that remain dramatically current andwould call for an elucidation on the same terrain*/biopolitics*/on which they wereformed (Agamben 1998, 4).

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    Foucaults Hypothesis of BiopowerThe formulation of the hypothesis that inaugurates the age of biopower, is boundup with a redefinition of power that ultimately forces one to pose the question

    of the subject. One could examine this formulation in the courses given at theCollege de

    France in 1976 as well as in the first volume of The History of Sexuality, by emphasizing above all two interdependent aspects that fix the stakesof biopower. From one angle, this hypothesis reports a transformation of the mode in which power is exercised. From another, it demands a new method for the interrogation of power in order to grasp its new technologies. Because what prevents us from grasping the complex play of powers processes is precisely that it presents itself internal to a code of law and sovereignty, the analysis is conductedalong two related planes: grasping this transformation of the way in which power is exercised relies on a new approach to reading it.

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    A New Mode of Exercising PowerIf the age of biopower, in which power includes life in its calculations, both succeeds and is bound to sovereign power, it also transforms this power at the same time. Foucault revisits the slow and very profound transformation of these mechanisms of power (1978, 136): the sovereign right over life and death is relativized so that the asymmetrical right of death, exercised as a right of the sword, is nolonger the principal form of power but simply one element among others. It is organized within a power of the management of life, not to be understood strictlyas labor-power (the indispensable basis of capitalism), but as an element of a biohistory in which one acquires the scientific possibility of transforming life,ultimately, for itself, into wellbeing or health. Foucault links this hypothesis to his previous work on the microphysics of power. In Discipline and Punish (1

    977), he demonstrates that disciplinary power tends to increase the utilitarianforce of the individual body. In a chronological overlap, he articulates withinthe 1976 lectures a nondisciplinary technology of power that does not exclude the disciplinary technology, but is superimposed on it, dovetails or integrates intoses it by sort of infiltrating it, embedding itself in existing disciplinary techniques (2003, 242). The two different technologies function at two distinct levels:discipline is individualizing, biopolitics is massifying. Biopolitics no longer addresses itself to the body, but to living man, to a multiplicity of men . . . to the extent that they form . . . a global mass that is affected by overall processes characteristic of life (242/3). It intervenes in different processes such as birth, death, and illnesses, which are considered to be factors in the reduction offorce. But it also intervenes in the processes of old age, in accidents, in everything that requires mechanisms of assistance and insurance, or even in the relation between the species and the environment (the problem of the city, for example). In short, the object of biopolitics is the population, conceived as a scientific and political problem; biopolitics therefore focuses on collective phenomena that have long-term political effects and strives to regulate them. It is a question of security mechanisms which have to be installed around the random element

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    inherent in a population of living beings (Foucault 2003, 246). What, then, is the

    connection, in this transformation, between sovereign power and biopower? It isa question of a shift in the regime of power: one of the greatest transformationspolitical right underwent in the nineteenth century was precisely that, I wouldnt say exactly that sovereigntys old right*/to take life or let live*/was replaced, but it came to be complemented by a new right which does not erase the old right but which does penetrate it, permeate it. This is the right, or rather precisely the opposite right. It is the power to make live and let die (241). Thus, the twdimensions are presented not as a simple succession, but as an interpenetration.In order to take charge of life, power needs new processes. The new technologies of power are situated in effect below the power of sovereignty: power is increasingly less the power to put to death, and increasingly more the right to intervene in order to make live. Foucault insists therefore on the ineffective charac

    ter of power whose organizing schema is sovereignty for governing the politicaland economic body of an industrializing and demographically developing society.He delineates the necessity for powers twofold adjustment with respect to the processes that escape it. [F]ar too many things were escaping the old mechanism ofthe power of sovereignty, both at the top and at the bottom, both at the level of detail and at the mass level. A first adjustment was made to take care of thedetails. Discipline had meant adjusting power mechanisms to the individual bodyby using surveillance and training . . . And then at the end of the eighteenth century, you have a second adjustment; the mechanisms are adjusted to phenomena of population, to the biological or biosociological processes characteristic of human masses. This adjustment was obviously much more difficult to make because it implied complex systems of coordination and centralization. (249/50) The new mechanisms, both disciplinary and normalizing, constitute new forms of the modes o

    f exercising power that sovereign power cannot fully exploit. They can be joinedtogether, most notably around the question of the norm (an element that circulates between the two) as sexuality demonstrates in an exemplary manner. The normalizing mechanisms are not, however, the enlarged forms of discipline. It is a question rather, as Foucault writes, of covering a larger surface of the body of the population by means of the bilateral interplay of normalizing and disciplinary mechanisms.

    A New Approach to PowerThus, the study of the mechanisms of biopower cannot be carried out according tothe traditional approach of sovereignty, a point that emphasizes the polemicalrather than the simply descriptive character of the hypothesis of biopower. Foucault clarifies the point: I would in fact like to trace the transformation not atthe level of political theory, but rather at the level of the mechanisms, techniques, and technologies of power (241). In this sense, Foucault abandons the theoryof sovereignty and law in

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    order to study the technologies of power which are no longer presented exclusive

    ly internal to a code of legality or sovereignty, codes which in fact mask the new modes of the exercise of power. For a new understanding of power, an analyticsof power is therefore required. This necessity is formulated in particular in TheHistory of Sexuality, volume 1, in which the central object is not biopower butthe repressive hypothesis*/the idea that sexuality will be repressed, denied, silenced*/which Foucault intends to challenge or rather to resituate within a general economy of discourse on sex in order to bring to light how sex is put into discourse (1978, 11); rather than the processes of restriction, the latter is ultimatelya mechanism to increase incitement. It is, however, the second doubt that Foucault proposes concerning this hypothesis that interests us here, a doubt that takes the form of a historico-theoretical question: Do the workings of power . . . really belong primarily to the category of repression? (10). It is a question, theref

    ore, of Foucaults departure from a juridical-discursive interrogation of power, which preserves power in its negative form as repression or prohibition. Instead,power is in fact a positive mechanism aiming at the multiplicity, the intensification, and the increase of life. One remains attached to a certain image of power-law, power-sovereignty, which was traced out by the theoreticians of right and the monarchic institution. It is this image that we must break free of*/that is, the theoretical privilege of law and sovereignty*/if we wish to analyze powerwithin the concrete and historical framework of its operation. We must construct an analytics of power that no longer takes law as a model and a code (90). Itis a question of being liberated from the theoretical privilege of the law and sovereignty, a question of taking leave of the legal code. In short, Foucault demonstrates the inadequate character of the juridical code for properly grasping the exercise of power, since this code is the one according to which power presents

    itself and prescribes that we conceive of it (88). And if it is true that the juridical system was useful for representing, albeit in a nonexhaustive way, a power that was centered primarily around deduction (pre

    vement ) and death, it is utterly incongruous with the le new methods of power whose operation is not ensured by right but by technique, not by law but by normalization, not by punishmentbut by control, methods that are employed on all levels and in forms that go beyond the state and its apparatus. We have been engaged for centuries in a type ofsociety in which the juridical is increasingly incapable of coding power, of serving as its system of representation. (89; emphasis added) Power must be soughtoutside these mechanisms in which it has always been presented. The Foucauldianquestion concerning power*/ how is it exercised?*/is bound to the concern not for acentral nucleus of power but for its technologies. It refers to a strategic model of power rather than a legal model, in view of understanding the multiplicityof relations of force and the operations of power.

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    Analysis of RacismA final element of the Foucauldian hypothesis of biopower interests us with respect to the comparison with Agamben. It is a question of the analysis of racism,

    which comes after his analysis of race war, and in particular the idea of a paradox of biopower formulated within this context. Indeed, if power is a biopower the function of which is essentially the management and increase of life, how is oneto understand the role of killing at the heart of this power? In other words, inwhat manner does biopower fasten itself to the exercise of sovereign power? Twoexamples are given: the first, atomic power as an excess or abuse of the sovereign power to kill (to kill all life, more precisely) and the second, the technical possibility of fabricating viruses, biological weapons, as an excess or abuseof biopower beyond that of sovereign power. The analysis of racism is the response to the question of knowing how to exercise the function of killing within biopower. Through the emergence of biopower, racism is inscribed within mechanismsof the state according to a double logic. On the one hand, racism introduces ca

    esuras between what must live and what must die within the life of which power has taken control. It implements a fragmentation of the biological field by making (inferior and superior) races appear, which is a way of separating out the groups that exist within a population (Foucault 2003, 255). On the other hand, racism establishes a positive relation between the life of some and the death of otherswhich is no longer bellicose or militaristic, but biological. Not merely the security of one race, the death of the other is the death of a pernicious race thatwill make the life of the race healthier and more pure. Enemies are not political adversaries but biological threats. Racism is thus understood by Foucault as the precondition that makes killing acceptable in a normalizing society (256); it is tpoint through which biopower must pass in order to exercise sovereign power, the right over death. With the specific case of Nazism, Foucault establishes an exact coincidence between the two procedures, the expansion in the extreme of both

    the power to kill and biopower: Nazi society, both regulatory and insuring, atthe same time unleashes its power to kill through exposing its citizens to death. Itis this total exposure to death that constitutes the German race as superior race. The Nazi State makes the field of the life it manages, protects, guarantees, and cultivates in biological terms absolutely coextensive with the sovereign right to kill anyone, meaning not only other people, but also its own people (260). This specific mode of the exercise of power, biopower, therefore implies a redefinition of the mechanisms of power and a new approach to them. Biopower binds itself to sovereign power, but the mechanisms remain irreducible to those of sovereign power. It is necessary to be freed from the privilege of the juridicalinstitutional code in order to grasp these new procedures and new strategies. How thenis one to make sense of Agambens approach, which is presented as an appropriationof the problem of biopower, not strictly on the abandoned terrain of sovereignty but by an extensive reworking of the terms involved, transforming the understanding of power as much as the understanding of life?

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    Agamben: Sovereign Power and Bare LifeIn order to understand how Agamben intends to correct, or at least, to complete Foucaults analysis, it is necessary to separate out the content that Agamben adds to

    the notion of biopower. The resulting displacement of this concept*/the apparentcorrective*/is essentially a result of the notion of power that is implied: Agamben extracts a biopolitical structure from sovereign power. He presents his inquiry in this way: The present inquiry concerns precisely this hidden point of intersection between the juridico-institutional and the biopolitical models of power. What this work has had to record among its likely conclusions is precisely that the two analyses cannot be separated, and that the inclusion of bare life in the political realm constitutes the original*/if concealed*/nucleus of power (Agamben 1998, 6). His thesis is constructed starting from the hypothesis of Foucault;it is a question of reopening the question of sovereignty from a particular perspective because the aim of the inquiry is to locate a point of intersection between the different mechanisms of power. It is possible to pinpoint two operation

    s in Agambens rereading of Foucault: the first can be imagined as the extension or complement of Foucaults analyses, while the second is rather on the order of critique. Agamben states that there is an elision in Foucaults analysis, an absenceof a unitary theory of power. In actuality, according to Agamben, the two threads of the research, the one concerning political techniques and the other concerning the technologies of the self, are intertwined at several points. But because from Agambens perspective life inhabits this intermediary position, the question of a political subject emerges as a problem. Referring to pastoral power, Foucaultdoes indeed speak of a tricky combination . . . of individualization techniques,and of totalization procedures (Dreyfus and Rabinow 1982, 213). We must thereforefind out whether or not the unitary center of this political double bind is accessible to thought, and if Agamben succeeds by means of his critique to complete Foucaults analyses.

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    The Redefinition of SovereigntyAgambens approach to sovereignty is presented as a rupture with the traditional approach. The problem of sovereignty has been for a long time the identificationof who within the political order was invested with certain powers. Accordingly, Agamben notes that the very threshold of the political order itself was never calledinto question (1998, 12). What is called into question, therefore, is the formulation of the limits and the originary structure of the state sphere. His thesis isthen the following: sovereignty functions according to the logic of the exception, the privileged object of which is life, and constructs itself by producing abiopolitical body, which is to say by including bare life through its exclusion. In reopening the question of biopower on the terrain of sovereignty, Agamben presupposes a redefinition of sovereignty. It does not concern a traditional questioning which would, starting from legal subjects, pose the question of its legitimacy or its constitution. Sovereignty does not emerge from a contract or a general will nor is it derived from interests. It not concerned with legal subjectsbut, in a hidden manner,

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    with bare life which it detaches from the forms of life to which this life is habitually attached. Agambens redefinition of the notion of sovereignty takes its substance from the analyses of Schmitt: on the one hand, Agamben thinks sovereign

    ty as a limit concept between interiority and exteriority. The sovereign establishes himself in a paradox: he establishes himself from the outside, while declaring that there is no outside, in this way establishing the juridical order (as Schmitt writes, the sovereign proves itself not to need the law to create law). On the other hand, the sovereign establishes himself through a decision on the exceptional situation. The strength of the sovereign is affirmed paradoxically in thestate of exception, the source of juridico-political order. Thus these two elements, the exception and the decision, at the same time reveal and establish the sovereign. Agamben then investigates the topology inherent to the paradox of sovereignty: it is the logic of the exception in the etymological sense*/taking of theoutside. This logic focuses precisely on life, which is legible in the sovereignsright over life and death, the moment in which power has taken control of life e

    ither by exploiting or by suspending its right to kill. It is a question of inscribing exteriority within the body of the nomos */which is to say, the law as conjunction of right and violence in the sovereign or even, as with Schmitt, as the imposition of an order on a location*/by which the former animates the latter.It is a question, in short, of the integration of those things that had escaped. As a result, the relation between power and life is called a relation of exception, designating a relation in which something is included by its exclusion; the sphere of bare life is produced by this very exclusion. Production of bare life, therefore, is the originary activity of power. The notion of bare life is therebydistinguished from natural life: it is life inasmuch as it is exposed to powerand its force, inasmuch therefore as it is exposed to death. These two terms, sovereign power and bare life, emerge in this specific relationship. The life caughtin the sovereign ban is the life that is originally sacred*/that is, that may b

    e killed but not sacrificed*/and, in this sense, the production of bare life isthe originary activity of sovereignty. The sacredness of life, which is invokedtoday as an absolutely fundamental right in opposition to sovereign power, in fact originally expresses precisely both lifes subjection to a power over death andlifes irreparable exposure in the relation of abandonment (1998, 83; emphasis added). Agamben intends to reverse the dogma of the sacredness of life referred to by Benjamin, by producing its genealogy. Far from being an object of some form of protection by virtue of its sacred character, mere life is a production of a poweron which the latter exercises its force. Agamben demonstrates this fact througha redefinition of the sacred, by calling forth the figure of Homo sacer, and bygeneralizing this figure (a methodological procedure justified only by the object of inquiry, the exception, whereby the exception reveals the rule). The life of Homo sacer, an obscure figure of archaic Roman law which can be killed withoutcommitting homicide but which cannot be sacrificed in any ritual form, is a life destined to die with complete impunity. It is a life that is therefore negatively implicated in power in the form of the exception or even of the ban, in thedouble sense of to banish, both to expel from the community and put at the mercy ofthe command and insignia of power. In short, in searching for the ground of sovereignty, Agamben brings to light the logic of the exception: If the exception is the structure of sovereignty, then

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    sovereignty is not an exclusively political concept, an exclusively juridical concept . . . it is the originary structure in which law refers to life and includes it in itself by suspending it (28). It is the exception that makes the juridica

    l order possible. Agamben demonstrates that what establishes sovereign power isalso that which keeps it operational, that is to say the violence of the processes by which bare life is excluded and, therefore, the production of a biopolitical body on which sovereign power can exercise itself. Power clandestinely exercises itself through the exception and perpetuates its force through the repetition of the gesture of exception. It has two sides: the hidden side of the exception, which keeps the visible side, that of the law, operational. A second dimension of the exception, however, soon appears: the state of exception is precisely what is going to generate a certain visibility, to make what is hidden emerge. Itis from this perspective that the camp will be analyzed: the hidden face of power, the locus in which the exception is operative, is revealed in the crisis situation, either in the exceptional situation or ultimately in the camp. The readi

    ng of Hobbes proposed by Agamben is particularly illuminating with respect to his conception of sovereignty. Sovereignty is founded on an exception of life similar to a state of nature; this state of nature or state of exception continues to function internally to sovereignty. On the one hand, Agamben rereads Hobbess constitution of sovereignty by emphasizing lifes exposure to death which characterizes the state of nature and which will be encountered again (at the expense of the notion of the contract) within the state. Because Agamben has never made anyreference whatsoever to the idea of the contract (except in order to show that it stands in the way of understanding the problem of sovereign power), his reading pushes Hobbess text in a surprising direction. The state of nature is a situation in which each man is a sacred man for all others. This state of nature survives in the person of the sovereign, who alone conserves the ius contra omnes, since he conserves a right over life and death of the citizens, who are for him sac

    red men. Far from being a prejuridical condition that is indifferent to the law ofthe city, the Hobbesian state of nature is the exception and the threshold thatconstitutes and dwells within it (106). Sovereignty is not derived from the subjects of law, subjects who give up a right within a contract. On the contrary, thequestion concerns the threshold of the juridical order: sovereign power functions according to a logic of exception or a logic of the exposure of bare life. Itis a power which is established beginning from this violence. On the other hand, the state of nature is a manner for Hobbes to consider society in its civil state as if it were dissolved, thereby rendering visible the internal principle of thestate. The following citation, which is taken from De cive, appears as an epigraph in Homo Sacer: To make a more curious search into the rights of the State, andthe duties of Subjects, it is necessary, (I say not to take them in sunder, butyet that) they be so considered, as if they were dissolved, (i.e.) that we rightly understand what the quality of human nature is, in what matters it is, in what not fit to make up a civill government, and how men must be agreed among themselves, that intend to grow up into a well-grounded State (ix). Agamben is not concerned with a consideration of how the constitution of sovereignty puts an end to the state of war*/in this sense, unlike Foucault, he does

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    not think that sovereign power signals the end of war, nor evidently that Hobbes

    is a thinker of civil peace*/but with a demonstration of how the state of nature, or even the state of exception, endures within the normal situation. Always active, this state is continually presupposed as the maintenance and perpetuationof power. The state of exception is not therefore the chaos that precedes order, but rather the situation that results from its suspension. It can be considered a principle immanent to sovereignty which structures the political state without ever appearing within it. In the same manner, for Schmitt, the sovereign is only ultimately established from the emergence of the state of exception. The law presupposes the nonjuridical (for example, mere violence in the form of the stateof nature) as that with which it maintains itself in a potential relation in the state of exception (Agamben 1998, 20/1). Such a reading reveals the reversal of the traditional notion of sovereignty. Characterized in this way, the structure o

    f sovereignty orients the history of biopower, which is the history of the deployment and the emerging crisis of this structure.

    History and Crisis of Sovereign PowerStarting from the biopolitical structure of sovereignty, a history of biopower takes shape the aim of which is to elucidate both contemporary politics and its continuity with the enigmas of the twentieth century. The crucial moment of thishistory is not, as it is for Foucault, the intensification of the diverse processes that make live, but the moment in which bare life frees itself. [W]hat charamodern politics is not so much the inclusion of zoe in the polis */which is, initself, absolutely ancient*/nor simply the fact that life as such becomes a principle object of the projections and calculations of State power. Instead the decisive fact is that, together with the process by which exception everywhere bec

    omes the rule, the realm of bare life */which is originally situated at the margins of the political order*/gradually begins to coincide with the political realm, and exclusion and inclusion, outside and inside, bios and zoe , right and fact, enter into a zone of irreducible indistinction. (Agamben 1998, 9) By virtue of the crisis, the state of exception becomes the rule and the hidden foundationof sovereignty is revealed, exposing the specificity of political modernity. This crisis is made possible by means of a double process of the politicization of life which consists in the increasing inscription of life within the political order, which in turn makes its exposure to power increasingly radical. The specificity of modern democracy, differentiated from the democracy of antiquity, is the fact that it approaches its opposite, totalitarianism. (a ) Such is the aporia ofdemocracy, analyzed in its rise to power as the inscription of life in the political order and, more specifically, in the nation. In this respect, Agamben appears to accomplish a nearly Foucauldian project on the terrain abandoned by Foucault,since what is at stake is determining and unmasking the fiction through which power, by borrowing juridical codes, manifests itself. As the

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    inquiries into the De claration des droits de lhomme and the writ of habeas corpusshow, life itself, in the form of nativity and the mere body, is invested withthe principle of sovereignty. The fiction of sovereignty is the fictional bond b

    etween nativity and nation, etymologically related. Life, the actual sovereign subject, is the ultimate and opaque bearer of sovereignty. Declarations of rights. . . assure the exceptio of life in the new state order that will succeed thecollapse of the ancien re gime . The fact that in this process the subject is, as has been noted, transformed into a citizen means that birth*/which is to say, bare natural life as such*/here for the first time becomes . . . the immediate bearer of sovereignty. The principle of nativity and the principle of sovereignty, whichwere separated in the ancien re gime (where birth marked only the emergence of asujet, a subject), are now irrevocably united in the body of the sovereign subject so that the foundation of the new nation-state may be constituted . . . The fiction implicit here is that birth immediately becomes nation such that there can be no interval of separation between the two terms. Rights are attributed to man

    (or originate in him) solely to the extent that man is the immediately vanishingground (who must never come to light as such) of the citizen. (Agamben 1998, 128) But this is an ambivalent inscription: men inscribe their demands for rightsand liberties in the very place of their subjection to power. Hence, too, modern democracys specific aporia: it wants to put the freedom and happiness of men intoplay in the very place*/bare life*/that marked their subjection. Behind the long,strife-ridden process that leads to the recognition of rights and formal liberties stands once again the body of the sacred man with his double sovereign, his life that cannot be sacrificed yet may, nevertheless, be killed (10). Each subjectrepeats this gesture of the exception of life by inscribing his or her life in the political order and by being exposed to the submission to power. The crisis of the nation-state, which is a crisis of the connection between birth and nation, ushers in a biopolitical modernity in the extreme. The fiction of sovereignty

    is in a certain manner uncovered by another fiction, or rather by another history, one that Benjamin calls the tradition of the oppressed. The figure of the refugee, an explicit reference to Hannah Arendts analysis within the fifth chapter of Imperialism, emerges as the symptom of this other history. It is, moreover, on theoccasion of this analysis of the falsification of the rights of man*/which areoriginally the instruments of protection over against the new state sovereignty,but which reveal their practical flimsiness the moment they are faced with refugees*/that Arendt makes reference to something like a bare life: The conception ofhuman rights, based upon the assumed existence of a human being as such, brokedown at the very moment when those who professed to believe in it were for the first time confronted with people who had indeed lost all other qualities and specific relationships*/except that they were still human. The world found nothingsacred in the abstract nakedness of being human (Arendt 1951, 295). The refugee, like the Jew, is mere bare life, and, as such, the bare life of the refugee should, since it is the man named by the declarations, be made the object of

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    a protection. But in reality, the refugee reveals the vacuity of the notion of ahumanity and of the declaration, which is not a proclamation of eternal values,but which has a precise historical function. From the moment of the crisis of t

    he nationstate, life no longer succeeds in appearing within the system. Life becomes the stakes and the problem of politics. Modern democracy, like totalitarianism, should be analyzed as a response to this crisis. Power is going to short-circuit this connection, the inscription of life in the nation, and deal directlywith bare life. (b ) The analysis of totalitarianism is therefore the analysis of a response to this crisis of political space and to the absence of systemic regulation. Totalitarianism is a biopolitics investing itself more directly in life, which becomes immediately political. A continual process pushes past the decline of rights*/a second-class citizenship is conferred on the Jews*/to the production of a bare life and then to its extermination. The extermination must be understood within a juridico-political order of the killing of bare life and not within the religious violence of a holocaust: The truth*/which is difficult for the

    victims to face, but which we must have the courage not to cover over with sacrificial veils*/is that the Jews were exterminated not in a mad and giant holocaust but exactly as Hitler had announced, as lice, which is to say, as bare life (Agamben 1998, 114). It is necessary to understand Nazi politics not simply accordingto the paradigm of extermination, but also as the production of bare life. Twotraits characterize totalitarianism: on the one hand, power becomes the immediate decision on life, which is to say the decision on its value or nonvalue. It isstarting from this point that the practices of euthanasia and human experimentation are taken into account, since the life in question has been qualified as lifedevoid of value. Similar human experimentation had been practiced in democracies,on lives declared devoid of value such as those of prisoners who have been sentenced to death. More specifically, Nazism produces a people staring from the discrimination and the exclusion of a population*/that of a particular life, the life o

    f the Jews. On the other hand, a second trait characterizes totalitarianism: biological facts become political objectives, and politics is then understood in terms of the police. The burgeoning concern for the race, which is revealed by thepositive function of the police, coincides with struggle against a foreign enemy, which is revealed by external politics. These are the two indissociable elements in which politics and biology are confounded. Nazism, according to Agamben,is intelligible from this biopolitical perspective. As a preliminary to confronting the massive thesis according to which the camp is the matrix of modernity, it is possible to examine the commentary on the Foucauldian analysis of racism, which is not formulated in Homo Sacer (it should be noted that the 1976 course atthe College de France does not figure in the bibliography of Homo

    Sacer ), but in the text which succeeded it, Remnants of Auschwitz . Here, Agamben commentsthat the Foucauldian analysis of racism is a mode of resolving the paradox of biopower, which is the paradoxical exercise of the power over death by a power aiming at the increase of life. He intends to pursue Foucaults analysis and to reveal the mobility of the biopolitical caesuras that endlessly separate and exclude onelife*/that of the Jews*/in order to reinforce and to cause another life*/that of the Germans*/to emerge from it. Agamben does, however, deviate from Foucaults position on two points. First, according to Agamben, the two functions*/biopower

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    and killing*/which come to coincide with one another in the Nazi state (but which despite their points of intersection remain heterogeneous in the analysis of Foucault) are indissociable. Second, this initial point is contiguous precisely w

    ith the fact that extermination is not the exclusive paradigm by which to graspNazism and the events that took place within the camps. The production of bare life can, however, explain this double process. To the extent that the logic of the production of bare life leads to the production of death, the concentration camp is thereby linked to the extermination camp. Becoming a Muselmann (the paradigmatic figure for Agamben of the man of the camps in the process of dying of malnutrition, and therefore in a mode of survival) is the incremental production of the living as dead. Thus for Agamben, racism, in a certain manner, goes beyond race. It creates caesuras between the people and the population, the people emerging through the exclusion of a population that is a biological danger for it, pursuing this separation in order to reach a threshold where it is no longer possible for caesuras to function. It is, in fact, a production of survival. Power is a

    bove all a decision on life in the form of a qualification of life, a decision on its value and therefore also its nonvalue. This is what characterizes the biopolitics of the twentieth century: a third formula can be said to insinuate itselfbetween the other two, a formula that defines the most specific trait of twentieth-century biopolitics: no longer either to make die or to make live, but to make survive . The decisive activity of biopower in our time consists in the production not of life or death, but rather of a mutable and virtually infinite survival (Agamben 1999, 155). What becomes clear as a result of the analysis of totalitarianism is the political qualification of life and, more generally, the logic that designates the thresholds distinguishing within biological life itself (whichis the secularized form of bare life) the values of life and the frontiers beyond which life ceases to be politically relevant. These are both biopolitical and thanatopolitical processes. According to Agamben, this logic extends to every polit

    ical space, the figure for which is therefore the camp. (c ) The camp is conceivable as the matrix of modern political space, but it is irreducible to a historical reality. It is aligned with the state of exception, but one that would havebecome the rule: it is a permanent state of exception, one that has been prolonged de facto. Agamben formulates a specific type of interrogation with respect tothe camp. Rather than deducing the definition of the camp from the events thattook place there, I will ask instead: What is a camp? What is its political-juridical structure? How could such events have taken place there? This will lead usto look at the camp not as a historical fact and an anomaly that*/though admittedly still with us*/belongs nonetheless to the past, but rather in some sense asthe hidden matrix and nomos of the political space in which we still live. (2000, 37) The camp entails a direct relation between power and life. It is a new and stable spatial order inhabited by a bare life which, increasingly, fails to appear within the system: in this way life is made the object of a radical captureby the sovereign. It becomes clear that the camp, much more than a historical reality, is an operator or even a machine, referring to diverse situations that all have in common the

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    indistinction between norm and life. They are the situations in which the norm invests itself in life to the point that the latter becomes confounded with the former, such as the life of the man of the camp or even the life of the neomort,

    for example. Modernity is conceptualized in terms of the matrix of the camp in order to sanction the impossibility at any point in the future of man distinguishing between his life as a living being and his existence as a political subject.The figure of the camp, as invoked by Agamben, is therefore paradoxical: in attempting to erase the undecidability of Auschwitz, he is driven into a position where it is impossible to think the plurality and specificity of modes of power.By assimilating sovereign power, the power of the SS, and the power of medical science, by using the camp as a generalizable figure, and by imprecisely extracting the common structure of disparate realities and events (such as the concentration camp, the extermination camp, the internment camp, the airport detention center, the refugee camp), Agamben can no longer examine these events in a localized manner. The transformation of the analysis of the camp into a figure of polit

    ical space appears to result in a rather reductive paradigm. Political space, normalized by the camp, is reduced to a specific mode of the exercise of power: the decision on the value of life. The redefinition of sovereignty as biopower implies a modification of Foucaults hypothesis, which leads to a considerable displacement and, ultimately, to a design fundamentally incompatible with Foucaults work. Agamben devotes himself to an extension of biopower to all aspects of political life, but only by reducing the significance of each aspect: the extension andradicalization of Foucaults hypothesis is only conceivable as a reduction. Paradoxically, one is therefore confronted with a conception of power which is too large because too reductive, a conception which no doubt relies heavily on the ambivalent notion of bare life and the connection established with power which functions literally like a camp. However, what is of interest in Agambens analysis isthat it brings into view the exercise of a biopower at the heart of mechanisms

    of sovereignty, in particular, as the refugee demonstrates, as it relates to thequestion of citizenship. Sovereign power functions according to a logic of thresholds and caesuras, which are concerned not only with biological processes of populations, but with mere survival. Agambens inquiry is therefore an inquiry intothe originary fiction of sovereignty, one that can be expressed in Foucauldianterms: his inquiry concerns the manner in which power presents itself within thelegal code and the way in which it prescribes that we conceive of it, bringing to light the complex procedures*/behind their reductive assimilation*/of thresholdsand divisions. By doing this, Agamben radically modifies the Foucauldian conceptof power. In one respect, he does not return to certain strengths of Foucauldian concept of power, compiled for example in Society Must Be Defended . In fact,it is not a question of a traditional interrogation of sovereignty, as the rereading of Hobbes clearly demonstrates. Agamben does not think sovereignty in termsof a cessation of power, nor in terms of individuals themselves giving up something in view of their subjection; it is not a question of the idealized genesisof the state. In another respect, sovereign power is not a repressive power. Sovereignty is exercised through the sovereign decision in the paradoxical gestureof the exception. Constructed through a relation of the ban, it establishes andmaintains itself through a gesture which is reproduced

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    by each citizen in relation to his or her own life, by which each individual becom

    es subject and object . . . of the political order. The logic of power is a logicof exclusion and inclusion which designates the thresholds which continually redefine life, its value, and, as a result, the human. In The Open: Man and Animal,Agamben (2004), qualifying this mechanism, speaks of an anthropological machine. Agambens analysis, however, is fundamentally foreign to Foucaults hypothesis, at least insofar as it is concerned with the dual project of investigating both sovereign power and a unitary theory of power. Despite everything, Agamben is in factbound to a power and its logic rather than to the plurality of its mechanisms. Power, according to the model of the camp, is understood as a mechanism for creating caesuras; it is in this respect reduced to paradigmatic logic. In Agambens conception of the term, biopower is nothing other than the deployment of the structure of sovereignty in the form of the crisis. Agamben constitutes it as a parad

    igm rather than locating, as Foucault has done, the discontinuities and historical transformations of the way in which power is exercised.

    Resistance to PowerResistance must be rooted in the very same terrain that has been put at stake inpower: life. In the first volume of The History of Sexuality, Foucault writes that life as a political object was in a sense taken at face value and turned backagainst the system that was bent on controlling it. Political struggles are grounded in life: a right to life, to ones body, to health, to happiness, to the satisfaction of needs is expressed as a political response to all these new procedures of power which did not derive, either, from the traditional right of sovereignty (1978, 145). It is a question of resisting the processes of subjection at work in the technologies of power. In the volumes of The History of Sexuality that follow, the

    subjective dimension of Foucaults thought comes to be decisively underlined withinquiry into the care of the self. Foucaults results are therefore not concerned with the political subject, but rather with the question of the constitution of thesubject starting from the relations of power, as indicated by his analysis of governmentality which is concerned with the conduct of conduct and action upon actionopower remains a constellation of technologies which, as Ranciere describes it in The Disagreement ,

    functions on the register of the police: a logic of the designation of positions. In Agambens writings, the answer of a resistance to biopower is scattered, only really indicated in the final lines of Homo Sacer. As inthe work of Foucault, it is life that must oppose the operations of power, overagainst powers divisions and deductions (pre

    vements ). What is at stake is the useof a life of possibility le (puissance ) (possibility understood as starting from conceptual tools that are far from new: the Aristotelian dynamis without energeia, a possibility which can never pass into actuality, and the potentia of Spinoza). In this respect, there is a reversal of the negative understanding of thenotion of biopolitics, a shift in the direction of a possibility of life. In order to resist sovereigntys proliferation of the ban, this possibility must establish its cohesion in opposition to every division: it is necessary to make its life into a form of life, which appears to return to Foucaults analyses to the

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    extent that the idea of a practice of the self provides a form of life. But Agamben moves in another direction. Certainly, this form of life is bound up with aliberation from the state*/that is to say, a withdrawal from all codified forms

    of belonging, from all identification with the state*/but it is a liberation accomplished by becoming an unfigurable singularity, what Agamben refers to in TheComing Community as whatever singularity (1993). In short, Agamben turns the negative indetermination of Homo sacer s bare life into a positive indetermination, figured as (among other things) any singularity whatever. In the state of exception become the rule, the life of homo sacer, which was the correlate of sovereign power, turns into an existence over which power no longer seems to have any hold (1998, 153). This forces Agamben to introduce a reversal into the diagnosis already under way. The final page of Homo Sacer declares the necessity of transforming bare life, which had been an index of the production of power, into a form of life. This biopolitical body that is bare life must instead be transformed into the site for the constitution and installation of a form of life that is wholly exhaus

    ted in bare life and a bios that is only in its zoe (188). This absolute withdrawal from power and the aporias of sovereignty, which is a folding backward towarda possibility, is directly related to powers no longer having any hold. It is Agambens intention to think possibility outside any ban, outside any actuality, and even outside any relation with political organization, thereby entering into an irremediable disjunction with it. The resolution is metaphysical and is bound up with a specific vision of history. Life, for Agamben, is in fact what is originally excluded as the exception. But this abandoned ground of the history of sovereigntyis, from an explicitly Heideggerian perspective, what determines its unfolding*/the very telos of this history, which moves toward what is original*/or what itis concerned with reassuming or becoming again. In an age when there are no longer any projects, the historico-political destiny of the West is the reappropriation of bare life. In The Open, Agamben designates the taking on of biological lif

    e itself as the supreme political (or rather impolitical) task (2004, 76). From this point forward, it is necessary to take up the question of a peoples simple factual existence. The proposed solution signals a displacement beyond both politics and, at the same time, the state. It is in terms of metaphysics that the problem of politics must be resolved, in order that politics in its turn may accomplish the metaphysical task of human liberation. This presupposes that politics andmetaphysics share an identical structure: life is the name of Being, and to separate bare life from concrete forms of life is a return to the isolation of pureBeing beginning with its separation from the multiple meanings of the term. Thesolution consists in the cohesion between life and its form, in a possibility that is capable of resisting the operations of power. Agamben proposes another formulation of this solution in Remnants of Auschwitz which moves in the directionof an ethics of the subject of testimony. The subject is a remnant, it is whatremains (ce qui reste ) in the messianic sense insofar as it takes shape withinthe irreducible gap between the approach of the living being to speech and the speakers sensation of life. It is what remains of a subjectivization that takes place as a desubjectivization. As The Time That Remains illustrates, what remainscan be conceived as what resists. The egress from biopolitics is thus signaled by a dislocation of the ban and by a paradoxical reversal of the diagnostic already under way which brings it into

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    conformity with the historical perspective underlying Agambens analysis. In thisway a mode of life*/even a form of life*/appears, the possibility and cohesion of which will found, according to Agambens messianic perspective, the politics to co

    me. The problem posed by this positive biopolitics is the reversal of the notion of bare life, which shifts away from the anchorage point for power toward the nucleus of a political mode of life. In this way, bare life appears to be a problematic foundation for a resolution to biopolitics, a resolution that is no longerpolitical but ethical or metaphysical, which is outlined in order to resist biopower.

    ConclusionTo conclude, it is possible again to take hold of the stakes of the question ofbiopower and the difficulties encountered with this notion. Biopower, as a genealogical analysis of the mechanisms of power, finds two extremely different formulations here. The definition given by Foucault is intended to be comparatively more

    localized, while Agamben carries out an extension of the field of biopower whichcalls into question its relevance. Agambens analysis of the mode of exercising power is coherent to the extent that it successfully updates both the facade behind which power makes its advances within the juridico-institutional code and onthe plane of sovereignty, as well as the manner in which sovereignty includes bare life in its calculations. In this minimal way, it is possible to understand the analysis of Agamben as a complement to Foucaults project: both below and abovethe processes of normalization and control which manage the individual and collective bodies, a separation is operative at the level of bare life, which is thevery survival of individuals. It takes the form of an exclusion, discriminatingbetween the living subjects and others who are considered destined to die withutter impunity, the life of which has not been made an object of protection. Bare life itself, rather than existence or the bodies of men, is a juridico-politic

    al construction, not something given or a natural, extrapolitical fact. Agamben presents this genealogy then as an update of the fundamental violence of sovereign powers procedures. This violence must be thought at the heart of the problem of citizenship and sovereignty, on the terrain of a thought largely inaugurated by Hannah Arendt. Totalitarian phenomena, in which mans survival (as representative ofthe species) is threatened, in fact open up a paradigm for thinking the violence which, reproduced daily, is faced by refugees, minorities, or the inhabitantsof impoverished nations. In analyzing this kind of violence, however, it is nota question of going so far as an amalgam or assimilation of diverse situations.In this respect, the camp appears as a problematic paradigm that cannot stand asa figure for the entirety of politics. It is this addition, however, that turnsup in Agambens appropriation of Foucault. From Agambens perspective, it is necessary to complete Foucaults formula according to which our life is at issue in ourpolitics, with the inverse formula according to which we are citizens whose very politics is at issue in their natural body. This complement comes to displace the notion biopower, moving instead in the direction of biopolitics. If Agambens understanding of sovereign power was already quite removed from the attention given by Foucault to the techniques and toDownloaded By: [University Of Melbourne] At: 23:18 6 July 2010

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    the play of power, the project of grounding politics in life is entirely foreignto Foucaults hypothesis. By entering into the terrain of sovereign power abandoned by Foucault, it is a question for Agamben of thinking the unifying central po

    int, a hidden point of intersection between the political techniques and the technologies of the self, which are the mechanisms through which life enters into political strategies and the processes of subjectivization through which individualsbecome linked to their identity. But it is a unifying central point that Foucault does not designate. In presenting bare life as the center of this double bind,Agamben proposes a conception of power that is not only incompatible with Foucaults perspective, but problematic in its own right. Bare life is unquestionably the point on which power anchors itself as well as the point that becomes both subject and object of the political order. But two difficulties appear. On the onehand, bare life informs us of precise political mechanisms which would not be able to represent the entirety of political space; there is at least a doubt as to the validity of such a notion for analyzing diverse phenomena, in particular t

    he new forms of racism. On the other hand, if bare life is the point from whicha politics is able to be reconstructed, the definition of bare life would have changed, no longer as what Agamben presents in his analysis of sovereign power where it is a production of power. In fact, a slippage in the sense of the term becomes apparent to the extent that it functions both within the mechanisms of theproblem and in the positive resolution. From the historical perspective that underlies Agambens analyses, in order to oppose cohesion of life to the divisions of power, it is a question of reappropriating the excluded and forgotten ground of bare life. Is it then still the result of power? Dose it not become an original fact to which one must return? Bare life is in fact characterized by Agamben as a vague and indeterminate concept which, in the same manner as Being, becomes thehistorico-political destiny of the West. Its signification therefore oscillatesbetween the polemical status of the production of power and a positive but ambig

    uous status of the center of a mode of political life; it is a fundamentally ambivalent notion. In the final reckoning, the problem of biopower is contingent onthe determination of life. It is clear which life is targeted by the biopolitical strategies of power, but it is not clear how to rebuild politics starting from life, and even less clear how life can be conceived as the truth of politics.Such is the problem posed by the passing from a genealogical analysis of biopower into an attempt to give a content to biopolitics.

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    ReferencesAgamben, G. 1993. The coming community. Trans. M. Hardt. Minneapolis: Universityof Minnesota Press. */ /. 1998. Homo sacer: Sovereign power and bare life . Trans. D. Heller-Roazen. * Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. */ /. 1999.Remnants of Auschwitz: The witness and the archive . Trans. D. Heller* Roazen.New York: Zone Books. */ /. 2000. Means without end: Notes on politics . Trans.V. Binetti and C. Casarino. * Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

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