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Radical Philosophy Review

Volume 7, Issue 1, 2004

Biopolitics and Racism

Ellen K. Feder
Pages 17-39

The Discursive Production of the “Dangerous Individual”
Biopower and the Making of the Racial State

The recent publication of Michel Foucault’s 1974-75 and 1975-76 lectures at the Collège de France provides an opportunity to reconsider the potential contribution of Foucault’s “analytics” of power for understanding the contemporary operation of race. Unlike the deployment of gender, which, I argue here, is best understood as a function of “disciplinary” power, the deployment of race is primarily a function of “biopower,” an expression of power that is bound up with the state apparatus. The announcement of the federal Violence Initiative in the 1990s provides an illuminating example of the operation of this power, and the chiasmic function of discourse that Foucault famously termed “power/knowledge.”

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