Skip to content

Tag: Agamben

Thinking blackly beyond bio politics and bare life

Alexander Weheliye’s 2014 book, Habeas Viscus is a vital critique of two dominant accounts of the limits and contours of humanity: Michel Foucault’s biopolitics and Giorgio Agamben’s bare life. But beyond providing us with a much needed problematisation of these two theories, what they omit, and the Eurocentrisms they reproduce, this book offers much more. In fact, despite the book’s framing around the critique of bare life and biopolitics, Habeas Viscus in my reading is really a call to see race – and thus the concept of the human – otherwise and a rallying call for Black thought and its centrality for making sense of modernity. Alexander Weheliye, a professor of African-American studies, is primarily a cultural-literary theorist/philosopher. His points of reference and his lyrical, evocative but dense writing style are harder for sociologists to access. Nevertheless, his insistence on placing Black feminist thought at the heart of this theorization of race, the human and the ‘possibilities of other worlds’ (Weheliye 2014: 2) means that there is a lot that race critical students interested in the function of race but also the constant possibility of self-emancipation in the face of its structuring constraints can learn from his groundbreaking book.

Comments closed
Alana Lentin