The question of life was in one way or another always at the centre of anthropological writing. Nevertheless, an explicit empirical and theoretical focus on life has only recently gained attention, mainly through the reception of the Foucauldian concepts of biopower and biopolitics, and their supplementary modification with notions such as ‘bio-sociality’, ‘biosecurity’ or ‘biological citizenship’ (Rose and Novas 2005). The vogue of such ideas reflects a heightened awareness of recent global and local transformations through which the question of life and its multiple connotations – biological as well as cultural and social – have become the central concern of politics. However, in spite of this increased attention, one cannot find a consistent theoretical framework of life in anthropology. While a large number of publications conceptually build upon Michel Foucault’s work, other anthropologists provide alternative perspectives by making use of notions, such as ‘vita activa’ and ‘natality’ (Hannah Arendt), the ‘indeterminacy of living’ and ‘exigencies’ (Jean Paul Sartre), ‘form of life’ and ‘limit’ (Ludwig Wittgenstein) or ‘life at flux’ and ‘threshold’ (Gilles Deleuze). The goal of this seminar is to delve in into these different conceptualizations of life through concrete empirical case studies from different regions of the world, while privileging postcolonial contexts. Such an approach has the advantage to develop not only a theoretically and empirically grounded understanding of ‘life’ but also a comparative perspective revealing heterogeneous constructions of living in distinct localities across the globe.
Teilnahmevoraussetzungen, notwendige Vorkenntnisse
The seminar is an advanced class and it is open primarily for MA students.
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