[Foucault-L] The Biopolitics of Development: A Symposium

The Biopolitics of Development: A Symposium
(September 9-10, 2010; Kolkata, India)

Keynote Speakers
Michael Dillon (Sehir University, Turkey)
Manas Ray (CSSSC, India)
Julian Reid (University of Lapland, Finland)
Ranabir Samaddar (Calcutta Research Group, India)

Organized by the University of Lapland and the Calcutta Research Group.

Funded by the Finnish Academy

How can we understand the historical and contemporary function of
development doctrine in the propagation and expansion of liberal
regimes of governance? How has the strategic function of development
changed in the transition from liberal to neoliberal rationalities of
governance? And what is the relevance of the shift from development to
sustainable development for the increasingly global hegemony of
neoliberalism? Answering these questions requires examining the
fundamental and complex correlations of economy, politics and security
with life in liberal doctrine. For it is the reification of life which
has permitted liberalism to proliferate, like a poison species, taking
over entire states and societies in the wake of their disasters,
utilizing their suffering, as conditions for its spread, installing
markets, commodifying anything it can lay its hands on, monetizing the
value of everything, driving peoples from countryside into cities,
generating displacement, homelessness, and deprivation. Neoliberalism
is widely understood as a theory of political economic practices
proposing that human well-being can best be advanced by the
maximization of entrepreneurial freedoms within an institutional
framework characterized by private property rights, individual
liberty, unencumbered markets, and free trade. Less understood,
however, is how its claims to be able to increase wealth and freedom
became correlated with claims to increase the prosperity and security
of life itself. For life was triangulated with capital and labour
within liberal regimes of governance from the very earliest emergence
of liberal political economy’s competition and conflict with the
Cameralism and Mercantilism of Polizeiwissenschaft. Life, in the form
of species existence, rather than nature, specifically the political
and economic nature in particular of rational Man whose dual nature
derived much more from European scholasticism than many of its early
modern proponents conceded, has progressively emerged as a singularly
important a priori for liberal political economy. Neoliberalism breaks
from earlier liberalisms and traditions of political economy in so far
as its legitimacy rests on its capacities to correlate practices for
the increase of economic profitability and prosperity not just with
practices for the securing of the human species, but with the life of
the biosphere. These correlations of economy, well-being, freedom,
security and biospheric life in and among neoliberal regimes of
practice and representation comprise some of the foundations of its
biopolitics. As this symposium will explore, we cannot understand how
liberalism functions, most especially how it has gained the global
hegemony that it has, without addressing how systematically the
category of life has organized the correlation of its various
practices of governance, as well as how important the shift in the
very understanding of life, from the human to the biospheric, has been
for changes in those practices. Today it is not simply living species
and habitats that are threatened with extinction, and for which we
must mobilize our care, but the words and gestures of human solidarity
on which resistance to biopolitical regimes of governance depends. A
sense of responsibility for the survival of the life of the biosphere
is not a sufficient condition for the development of a political
subject capable of speaking back to neoliberalism; nor a mere
humanistic sense of responsibility for the life of human amongst other
beings. What is required is a subject responsible for securing
incorporeal species, chiefly that of the political, currently
threatened with extinction, on account of the overwrought fascination
with life that has colonized the developmental as well as every other
biopoliticized imaginary of the modern age. This symposium seeks to
explore a range of responses to this problematic. It invites papers
from across the disciplines and from a variety of theoretical
perspectives that address any aspect of the biopolitics of
development. This will be a two-day symposium with about 20-25
participants marked by presentation of views, papers, roundtable
discussions, and question-answer sessions. Paper proposals aiming to
respond to this problematic should be submitted to Julian Reid
(reidjulian@xxxxxxxxx) and Ranabir Samaddar (ranabir@xxxxxxxxxx).

Deadline: July 31, 2010.

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