Accepted paper:

Information and the biopolitical: thinking across bio-objects


Eric Deibel (Bilkent University)

Paper short abstract:

The biopolitical refers to thinking across informatic ways of acting on and interacting with bio-objects. Drawing on examples from the intersection of life sciences and environmentalism, it is argued that there is a shift in what is recognized as an alternative in different fields

Paper long abstract:

When comparing bio-objects it is easy to establish that each of them has politics. Such multiplicity begs the question what kind of bio-politics this implies, or rather what "the biopolitical" is. This paper returns to Foucault as its theoretical horizon with as the aim to sustain detailed examinations but to tie these to its original setting: the "problem of sovereignty". Rather than demonstrating how a multiplicity of values is invoked, the approach seeks to examine how the various imaginaries resemble each other in important respects. The point is not simply a critique of ideologies that hinge on a more seamless union of technology, nature and society, but to examine the origin story at work in these types of settings. Specifically, the biopolitical revolves around the establishment of a sense of logical coherency in between genetics, human nature and the social world as something that can be lost or saved. This implies a solution that takes shape as an appeal for new social agreements and standards of credibility that cut across natural and social worlds. The problem is that this implies disciplining the unruly formation of bio-objects and the related dissolution of (bio-)subjectivities. The case will be made that out of a range of alternatives very few actually challenge the informatic ways of thinking and interacting with life as a technological creation. Such biopolitics implies a detachment from nature as a constructed throughout the embodied-know-how of the subject and living and working within multi-species environments as a meaningful (bio-)objective.

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Confluence, collaboration and intersection
Bio-objectification: meetings and new thresholds across the bio-social