Twenty-First Century Biopolitics

by Bogdana Koljevic (Author)
©2015 Monographs 98 Pages


What are phenomena of contemporary biopolitics in the twenty-first century? Foucault’s theory of biopolitics as neoliberalism is opposed to post-political theories developed by Agamben, Hardt and Negri and as such – more instructive. Because microstrategy of power is not Foucault’s final word on politics, political genealogy opens the space for creative and local critique of biopolitics. And if military interventions, terrorism and wars against terrorism are exemplary phenomena of biopolitics, bellum justum is a contradictio in adjecto. In response to such biopolitics, the relation between sovereignty and democracy is re-examined and we are entering a time of small revolutions.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Special Acknowledgement
  • Content
  • Part I: The Phenomena Of Contemporary Biopolitics vs. Potentialities For Rethinking The Political
  • What Is Contemporary Critique Of Biopolitics?
  • From International Terrorism To International Institutions: Liberal Interventionism Or Post-Liberal Internationalism?
  • Sovereignty, Democracy And The Political
  • Part II: Twenty-First Century – Time Of Small Revolutions?
  • Twenty-First Century As The World Of Biopolitics
  • Arab Spring Between Biopolitics And Democratic Uprising Of The People……
  • The Occupy Movement – Simulation Or The Initial Step Of Resistance?
  • The Birth Of Radical European Politics Of Left And Right
  • Time Of Small Revolutions, Biopolitics And True Democracy

| 11 →


The Phenomena Of Contemporary Biopolitics vs. Potentialities For Rethinking The Political

| 13 →

What Is Contemporary Critique Of Biopolitics?

To begin with, a political-philosophical analysis of biopolitics in the twenty-first century as its departure point, suggests the difference between Foucault’s theory and contemporary investigations, particularly Agamben’s, Hardt’s and Negri’s reflections. This difference, mostly between such works as The Birth of Biopolitics and Society Must Be Defended, on the one hand, and The History of Sexuality vs. Homo Sacer, State of Exception, Means Without End, Empire and Multitude, on the other, leads to the rethinking of the political and, therefore, to the issue of political subjectivities. Moreover, Foucault’s genealogy of the present – as the path for conceptualizing the multiplicity of appearances of contemporary biopolitics – actually leads to the rethinking not only of politics, but also of ethics and law. In comparison with post-political theories, the project of genealogical critique presents perspectives and potentialities for the political practice beyond biopolitics. Doubtlessly, Foucault does not in any case endorse either moral or political ends, and yet his oeuvre outlines what a political philosophy, faithful to his thinking, would look like – and that it could not be reduced to microphysics of power.

Our thesis here, therefore, is twofold: the basis for comprehending contemporary phenomena of biopolitics lies precisely in Foucault’s theory of biopolitics as neoliberalism whereas the response to such a situation can also be found perhaps, in a rethinking of freedom as a new potentiality of democratic politics. This is to say that an analysis of the birth of biopolitics in history of liberalism aims not only at presenting a specific type of governmentality – which significantly differs from all the rest by its instrumentalization of life as such – but also at manifesting the potentialities of genealogy for rethinking the political. In short, Foucault’s philosophical investigations of the history of biopolitics present the issue of the political and suggest exemplary prolegomena for a political philosophy and political practice. Likewise, this presupposes the insight that the conceptualization of power and/or biopower, together with the whole discourse on microstrategy of power, is not Foucault’s final word, i.e. that the disappearance of the political, seemingly paradoxically, is not total. ← 13 | 14 → What emerges here is rather some room for political subjectivity as a possible area of freedom.

This is one of the most original and extraordinary consequences of Foucault’s theory which, en generale, has not sufficiently been taken into account in contemporary philosophy. This implies a perception of political genealogy as, in all its relevant aspects, a project of creative, empirical and local critique of multiplicities of contemporary phenomena of biopolitics. It also implies the need to articulate the genealogy of the present as a meeting point of the struggle between power and subjectivity so that we should rethink an alternative conception of politics and power. This is why, if philosophy attempts to articulate the phenomena of biopolitics in the twenty-first century, an inquiry into this relation appears a necessary task.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (April)
sovereignty democracy military interventions political subjectivity
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 98 pp.

Biographical notes

Bogdana Koljevic (Author)

Bogdana Koljević is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Faculty of Media and Communications and Research Associate at the Institute for Political Studies in Belgrade. Her special field of interest is contemporary political philosophy.


Title: Twenty-First Century Biopolitics
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