Beyond the Biopolitics of Development : Being, Politics and Worlds
Alt, Suvi (2016)
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The dissertation inquires into the biopolitics of development from the perspective of conceptualising a ‘beyond’ of such biopolitics. This inquiry is informed by the need to re-evaluate both prevailing discourses of development and their existing biopolitical critiques. It approaches the idea of development in terms of its centrality to Western liberalism, arguing that a critique of development needs to account for its embeddedness in the metaphysics of modernity. Drawing on the works of Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben for a critical reading of development studies literature and policy documents by the United Nations, the World Bank and other relevant agencies, the dissertation shows the various ways in which policies of development produce the kind of depoliticised life that is required by neoliberal capitalism. With the purpose of furthering this biopolitical critique, the dissertation argues that an engagement with Martin Heidegger’s work enables an interrogation of the ontological underpinnings of contemporary biopolitics which are generally left unexamined in biopolitical critiques. It is then argued that the ontological violence entailed by the enframing of Being forms the conditions of possibility for the production and governing of biopoliticised subjects. Development is thus part of the processes that sustain what Heidegger calls ‘the forgetting of Being’. Yet, the dissertation suggests that the ontological question of Being also opens the way for a repoliticised conception of beings and their worlds; a beyond of biopolitics. The concept of the Augenblick, a blink of an eye, is discussed as a moment that opens up the existing order, enabling a politics that understands ‘world’ as the openness of Being, which nevertheless requires involvement by beings in order for them to overcome the limitations that even benevolent and supposedly emancipatory projects (re)produce when they lack recognition of their own historico-ontological commitments. Finally, the dissertation suggests rethinking development in the light of the ‘decoloniality of Being’, which is here conceived as a politics of ‘pluriverse’. The dissertation’s contribution thus lies in its critical engagement with the ontology of contemporary biopolitics of development and in its mapping of the conditions of possibility of a beyond of such biopolitics; a beyond conceived in terms of a politics of being as opposed to the biopolitics of life.
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