Eyal Weizman & Christina Varvia
Session 1: A Double Crisis: The Politics of Environmental and Population Control
Date: Tuesday 8 October 2019
Venue: AA Lecture Hall
In the first session, Eyal Weizman will introduce the seminar and its theoretical references against the backdrop of a number of case studies derived from his and the work of Forensic Architecture in Israel/Palestine. Bringing together the crises of environmental transformation and of population control, the seminar will show how the concept of bio-politics can be revitalised to engage with different dimensions of the contemporary condition.
Michel Foucault, Society Must be Defended
the whole book, especially chapter 11 (p. 239-263)
Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer
(especially until p. 50)
Giorgio Agamben, What is an Apparatus
Other references that will be referred to in the seminar:
Eyal Weizman, The Least of All Possible Evils: A Short History of Humanitarian Violence
Eyal Weizman, Hollow Land: Israel's Architecture of Occupation
Eyal Weizman, The Conflict Shoreline: Colonisation as Climate Change
Eyal Weizman is an architect, Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures, and Director of Forensic Architecture. He is a founding member of the architectural collective DAAR in Beit Sahour/Palestine and a member of board of directors of the Centre for Investigative Journalism. His books include Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability, FORENSIS, Mengele’s Skull (with Thomas Keenan), The Least of All Possible Evils, and Hollow Land. He has recently been made a fellow of the British Academy.
The seminar introduces the means and modes by which architecture — as a contemporary set of techniques and as a body of knowledge — can become an investigative and evidentiary mode through which to interrogate contemporary politics and conflict.
Conflicts are urban phenomena, played out within dense media and data environments. Political violence no longer focuses on the control of territories, but rather on the governance of population. From the use of tear gas to choke protestors, through to humanitarian governance of populations in the global south, to machine learning mobilisation of face recognition and biometric fingerprinting, the body is once again the focus of systems of government and control. This year the seminars will concentrate on concepts of biopolitics.
There has been some important shifts in our contemporary techno-political landscape since Foucault first formulated and Agamben re-articulated the term biopolitics. While their formulations were fundamental in identifying modes of governmentally and control of humans as mere bodies in space, the question associated with the term biopolitics today must shift in two different ways: on the one hand it must account for the techno-biological nature of the human in which the border between technology and biological matter erodes. It must also turn to engage larger ecologies in which the “bio” in biopolitics designate all living matter now under threat of extinction.
This open seminar series comes to map out the shifting landscapes articulated around the term biopolitics and the ways it could become relevant today.
Image: Infrared thermal imaging of bodies, scopesman.com, 2019
All lectures are open to members of the public, staff and students unless otherwise stated.