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Parallel Session 1: Biocapital and Security

Abstracts

‘Capitalist Resilience’
Mark Neocleous (RP/Politics, Brunel University, London)

The paper will take up the recent rise of resilience as a concept. Resilience has come to the fore as an idea under which security measures are being enacted and the war on terror is being planned for. The paper explores why this has happened by situating the idea of resilience within the wider framework of trauma and anxiety. In so doing, the paper suggests that resilience is fast becoming a key political category of neo-liberal subjectivity. As such, it reveals the ways in which security and capital have conjoined histories.

‘Socialism, Biopolitics, Futurity’
Claudia Aradau (RP/International Relations, King’s College London)

‘There is so far no term as useful for the construction of the future as that of genealogy for such a construction of the past; it is certainly not to be called futurology, while utopology will never mean much, I fear’ (Jameson). The construction of the future, whether through ‘taming’ or radical transformation, appears to be in need of (re)naming today: utopia is one of these names; speculation is another. If utopia attends to the cultural mediation of the impossible, of radical difference and transformation, speculation is a technology of ‘taming’ the uncertainties of the future, which is different from prognosis and statistical probabilities. Often motivated by speculative financial practices of neoliberal capitalism, the future becomes an object of speculative, pre-emptive and precautionary governance. Rather than either utopia or speculation, this paper suggests that the name we need to engage with is the one that has been eschewed so far: futurology. As a mode of knowledge focusing on the long-term, uncertain and unpredictable futures, futurology reshapes the continuum of risk, danger and crisis that Foucault associated with biopolitics. Yet, futurology not only shapes the knowledge of global problems, from terrorism to climate change and from sustainable development to biosecurity; its political stakes need to be seen, it is argued here, not only in its current extension through the military-industrial complex in the West and its emergence at the height of Cold War fears, but in the forgotten debate between futurologies in the socialist and capitalist countries in the 1970s and 1980s. The oblivion of socialist futurology, in the midst of the confirmation of the power of capitalist futurology, reduces the possibility of critical consideration of conceptions of the future.

‘Pharmaceutical Crises, Questions of Value, and Biopolitics Elsewhere’
Kaushik Sunder Rajan (Anthropology, University of Chicago)

This paper addresses questions of theory and critique through an analysis of global pharmaceutical politics. It will involve three things. First, I schematically outline how the contemporary global terrain of drug development is constituted by different logics of crisis, through a focus on pharmaceutical logics and politics in the United States and India today. This terrain is constituted by interrelations between multinational corporate interests, the local generic drug industry, neo-liberal patient consumers, marginalized experimental subjects of clinical trials, and global civil society advocates for access to essential medicines. Second, I read Marx to argue that a conceptualization of this terrain requires us to theorize value in capital and biocapital. And third, I focus on issues concerning clinical trials and access to essential medicines in India to consider how this theorization of value in the context of politics of health and illness, life and death, requires a modality of conceptualizing biopolitics “elsewhere”. At the very least, this involves recognizing that there is a world outside of advanced liberalism; that this world is very often constituted by logics that are hyper-capitalist and hyper-imperialist; and that a theorization of the biopolitical cannot just assume that the rest of the world is a seamless extension of, or exception to, the ways in which biopolitics has been constituted in advanced liberalism.

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