After Foucault: Pluralizing Modernity, Sex, Biopolitics, and Neoliberalism

References to the biopolitical have, in some Humanities contexts, continued to be as seemingly devoid of an aesthetic register as they were in the work of Michel Foucault, either because of the extent of its theorization in the technical terms of governmentality; or because it has increasingly been associated with the deprivations, reductions, and abandonments not typically theorized in aesthetic terms. This project considers a range of instances in which the aesthetics of biopolitics has, by contrast, been foregrounded, including the turn to interrogating the affective aspects and the multiple temporalities of the biopolitical, and some of its necro- and thanato-political variants. Just as biopolitics has seemed to offer privileged meanings of understanding humans both in terms of rights and rightslessness, administrations of life and death, it has been associated with both the deprivation or irrelevance of difference and the production of difference, saturated inclusion and the production of the remainder. The project gives attention to a degree of divergence between instantiations of biopolitical theory more oriented towards anthropology and political science and the social sciences, and a number of different lineages of engagement with Foucault and biopolitics more generally--traditions which, from Nelly Richard to Homi Bhabha, have preferred to interrogate the fate or role of the aesthetic in biopolitical contexts, particularly as a means of reconceptualizing forms of resistance: from the social movement to barely perceptible.


Professor Daniel Link is Director of the Maestría en Estudios Literarios Latinoamericanos (Master’s in Latin American Literary Studies) at the Universidad Tres de Febrero in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His research is situated at the intersection of Latin American thought, French and German thought, and gender and sexuality studies. Link is the author of numerous monographs, most recently Suturas: Imágens, escritura, vida (2015).

Alejandra Uslenghi is Assistant Professor of Spanish & Portuguese at Northwestern. She specializes in nineteenth and twentieth-century Latin American literature, with an emphasis on visual culture. She is currently at work on a book manuscript titled "Images of Modernity: Latin American Culture at Universal Exhibitions."

Penelope Deutscher is Professor of Philosophy and Associate Director of the Critical Theory Cluster at Northwestern. A specialist in contemporary European philosophy with a focus on post-Foucauldian theory and gender and sexuality studies, she is the author of several books, most recently Foucault’s Futures: A Critique of Reproductive Reason (2017).

Consulting Faculty:

Mary Weismantel is Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern, where she writes about indigeneity in the Americas, with a focus on Andean South America (Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia). Her work is guided by concepts of queer feminism and decolonial theory. She is the author of two monographs and numerous articles, including “Towards a Transgender Archaeology: A Queer Rampage Through Prehistory,” in The Transgender Studies Reader, Vol. 2.

Marcela A. Fuentes is Assistant Professor of Performance Studies at Northwestern. Her work focuses on the relationship between performance and digital technology in late 20th- and early-21st-century protest and interventionist art. Her book manuscript, In the Event of Performance: Bodies, Tactical Media, and Politics in the Americas is under contract with the University of Michigan Press.

Project bibliography:

Sanyal, Debarati. "Calais’s 'Jungle,' Refugees, Biopolitics, and the Arts of Resistance." Representations 139 (2017): 1-33.

Williams, Gareth. "Sovereignty and melancholic paralysis in Roberto Bolaño." Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies 18.2-3 (2009): 125-140.

Richard, Nelly. "Dimension of Social Exteriority in the Production of Art," "Rhetoric of the Body, and "The Displacement of Supports and the Eradication of the Boundaries between Genres." In Margins and Institutions (published as special issue of Art and Text), 51-82.

Thayer, Willy. "El Golpe consumación de la vanguardia" and "Critica, Nihilismo e interrupción: La Avanzada después de Márgenes e Instituciones." In Thayer, El fragmento repetido. Escritos en estado de excepción, 1-94. Santiago: Ediciones Metales Pesados, 2006.

Rodríguez, Fermín A. “Fear, Subjectivity, and Capital: Sergio Chejfec’s The Dark and Roberto Bolaño’s 2666.” Paralax 20.4 (2014): 345-359.

Andermann, Jens and Gabriel Giorgi. “We Are Never Alone: A Conversation on Bio Art with Eduardo Kac.” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies 26.2 (2017): 279-297.

Villalobos-Ruminott, Sergio Roberto. “Historicism, Nihilism, and the Chilean Avant-Garde.” Discourse 35.3 (2013): 362-383.

News and Events:

  • November 10-13, 2017 | Northwestern
    Professors Deutscher and Uslenghi participated in Transformations of Critical Theory, the inaugural workshop of the Critical Theory in the Global South Project. On November 13, they and Willy Thayer led a teach-in for graduate students on the theme "From the State of Exception to the Aesthetics of Biopolitics."

"From the State of Exception to the Aesthetics of Biopolitics" teach-in 

Professors Thayer and Deutscher

  • May 30, 2017 | Northwestern:
    Professor Daniel Link held a Spanish-language graduate student workshop on the theme "Articulaciones entre Literatura y Biopolítica" and delivered his paper "Fundamentos para una Teoría de la Enunciación Novomundana."