Feb 17-19 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. If you need to, think about life in the relative surplus populations of ch. 25.

Required readingsSecurity, Territory, Population pp. 29-79 ; Society Must Be Defended pp. 239-63

Recommended readings: Security, Territory, Population pp. 1-28 and Foucault on the police and course summary of Security, Territory, Population. You can also clearly see what kind of three-term writing assignment may be lurking in there….

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