Surveillance, Biopolitics, and the City:Health, Foreign Bodies, Visibility, and Discipline
30 Irving Place
New York, NY 10003
What are the links between cities, surveillance, and everyday life? Over the course of his later career, Michel Foucault began to identify a new type of political rationality that he called ‘biopower’ – one in which the fostering of the life, growth, and care of populations became a central concern of the state. Biopower, in Foucault’s argument, relies upon the systematic surveillance of demographic and social conditions. In this session, we will look at New York City as a kind of case study for a “Biopolitical City.” Former mayor Michael Bloomberg made health promotion, accounting, and regulation an integral part of his governing process. This approach had multiple effects. One result was an increase in the rate of life expectancy of the city’s population, making it the highest in the United States. In order to achieve this, the City spent millions of dollars targeting the most important and most preventable causes of death and debility from smoking, obesity, and other diseases through hard-hitting, and often fear-based media campaigns in addition to strict new legislation and police surveillance. How can we assess this form of governance? Do the familiar labels of the so-called “nanny state”, “progressive conservatism”, or the “welfare state” apply to this mode of governance? How do citizen, city, and surveillance apparatus function to create forms of ‘biopower’?
Event ScheduleSaturday, 4-7pm
December 05, 2015
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