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Radical Philosophy Today

Volume 4, 2006

Philosophy Against Empire

Devin Zane Shaw
Pages 123-138

The Absence of Evidence is Not the Evidence of Absence
Biopolitics and the State of Exception

In this essay, I attempt to show that the “war on terror” intensifies the use of biopolitical techniques. One such example, which I take as a point of departure, is Guantánamo Bay. We must place this camp in its proper genealogy with the many camps of the twentieth century. However, this genealogy is not a genealogy of the extremes of political space during and after the twentieth century; it is a genealogy of the transformation of political space itself. I will attempt to show this in three steps: first, a description and critique of the biopolitical in both Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben, who I take as exemplary in their analyses; second, an analysis of contemporary biopolitical techniques (including the camp), which enables us to avoid the liberal-democratic ideological misunderstanding of the war on terror; and third, a discussion regarding resistance to biopolitical techniques.

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