Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Ryan, K
Critical Horizons
Childhood, Biosocial Power, and the “Anthropological Machine”: Life as a Governable Process?
Optional Fields
This article examines how childhood has become a strategy that answers toquestions concerning the (un)governability of life. The analysis is organizedaround the concept of ‘‘biosocial power,’’ which is shown to be a particularzone of intensity within the wider field of biopolitics. To grasp this intensity itis necessary to attend to the place of imagination in staging biosocialstrategies, that is the specific ways in which childhood is both an imaginaryprojection and a technical project, and to this end Agamben’s concept of the‘‘anthropological machine’’ is used to examine how biosocial power hasbeen assembled and deployed. The paper begins with the question ofchildhood as it was posed towards the end of the nineteenth century,focusing on how this positioned the figure of the child at the intersection ofzoe and bios, animal and human, past and future. It ends with a discussionon how the current global obesity ‘‘epidemic’’ has transformed this one-timevision of mastery into a strategy of survival.
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