Feb 19-21 Managing Populations/Biopolitics

This week we turn to non-Marxist texts to start thinking about the procedures and techniques that operate within populations. Chapter 25 of Capital ended with the production (and reproduction) of a relative surplus population as a consequence and buttress to capital accumulation. In Capital section 8 we saw laws and techniques used during the phase of primitive accumulation to ensure a steady supply of labor for a growing industrial practice. Here, with Foucault’s theories on “security” and “population” we need a much more sophisticated thinking of the ways in which accumulation can take place–though Foucault does not use that term and is not writing in Marxist tradition. Try your best to get a sense of what he means by “discipline” vs. “security” and what does it mean to think of racism as first and foremost not as an attitude or ideology, but a “technique.” It may also help to keep the concept of the micro powers of daily life in mind. Think about life within the relative surplus populations of ch. 25 of Capital.

Required readingsSecurity, Territory, Population pp. 1-6, 29-79, 296-306, 311-61.

Print and bring this to class on M-W: Foucault, “Social Power Chart” We’ll need “Sovereign” “Discipline” and “Biopolitics”

Recommended: Security, Territory, Population pp. 1-28. Society Must Be Defended chapter on racism and capitalism: pp. 239-63 (We’ll need this last one again on Mar 26-28)

Here is a very good Foucault resource site: John Protevi, LSU including a short primer on “Reading Foucault


“More precisely and particularly, freedom is nothing else but the correlative of the deployment of the apparatuses of security.” STP, p. 48: