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Biopolitics, Bare Life, and The Reimagining of The Camp

By Emily Duchenne - Geography Student @ Linacre College, Oxford


Formulated and understood by French philosopher Michel Foucault as the power over life, or the ‘right to make live and let die’, the notion of biopower is an important concept in Geography that helps us realise how certain populations are controlled and oppressed by the state. Traditional conceptualisations of biopower are however increasingly making way for a new biopolitics of ‘bare life’. Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben argues there is a new space of contemporary politics in which individuals are no longer viewed as citizens but are now seen as inmates, stripped of everything, including their right to live. Agamben labels this space the ‘camp’, whereby inmates are isolated from the rest of society.