Biopolitics and Ancient Thought

Oxford: Oxford University Press (2022)
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Abstract

The volume studies, from different perspectives, the relationship between ancient thought and biopolitics, that is, theories, discourses, and practices in which the biological life of human populations becomes the focal point of political government. It thus continues and deepens the critical examination, in recent literature, of Michel Foucault's claim concerning the essentially modern character of biopolitics. The nine contributions comprised in the volume explore and utilize the notions of biopolitics and biopower as conceptual tools for articulating the differences and continuities between antiquity and modernity and for narrating Western intellectual and political history in general. Without committing itself to any particular thesis or approach, the volume evaluates both the relevance of ancient thought for the concept and theory of biopolitics and the relevance of biopolitical theory and ideas for the study of ancient thought. The volume is divided into three main parts: part I studies instances of biopolitics in ancient thought; part II focuses on aspects of ancient thought that elude or transcend biopolitics; and part III discusses several modern interpretations of ancient thought in the context of biopolitical theory.

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