By Nick Lee (auth.)
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Extra info for Childhood and Biopolitics: Climate Change, Life Processes and Human Futures
Abandoning a binary frame? Agamben portrays the current bio-political scene as one in which a state of exception has been generalised. In the past, he argues, states deﬁned themselves by declaring limits to their rule. This often meant distinguishing between the ‘life’ (zoë) that humans share with all other creatures and the ‘life’ (bios) that is peculiar to citizens that is lived in the light of publicly recognised standards. But since ‘human nature’ rather than ‘sin’ became the key focus of political rule, the situation is that, in principle, everything and nothing can be excepted.
Where the binary frame helped navigate the uncharted space of Childhood and Bio-politics: Life, Voice, Resource 27 ‘human nature’, these multiplicities allow for connections and comparisons in a complex and emergent, but far less mysterious, space – the material world in which designs, desires and life processes meet and mix. So ﬁrst, here is a more detailed examination of Foucault on the bio-political. States, populations and security In the previous chapter, I spent a little time describing Foucault’s use of the term ‘bio-politics’.
Consider that a primary purpose of the Nazi concentration camp was the elimination of people on the grounds of their Jewish ethnicity. In the Nazi state ‘Jew’ and ‘Aryan’ were understood as biological categories – that is to say as the product of variation in human nature. The application of racist ideas of biological difference in human nature allowed for matters of human embodiment to be entirely given over to deﬁnition in political terms. Biological, cultural and moral identities were all mixed together in Nazi theory and propaganda.