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Governing the resilience of neoliberalism through biopolitics

Mavelli, Luca (2017) Governing the resilience of neoliberalism through biopolitics. European Journal of International Relations, 23 (3). pp. 489-512. ISSN 1354-0661. E-ISSN 1460-3713. (doi:10.1177/1354066116676321)

Abstract

Neoliberalism is widely regarded as the main culprit for the 2007/8 global financial crisis. However, despite this abysmal failure, neoliberalism has not merely survived the crisis, but actually ‘thrived’. How is it possible to account for the resilience of the neoliberalism? Existing scholarship has answered this question either by focusing on the distinctive qualities of neoliberalism (such as adaptability, internal coherence, and capacity to incorporate dissent) or on the biopolitical capacity of neoliberalism to produce resilient subjects. This article adopts a different perspective. Drawing on and partially challenging the perspective of Michel Foucault, I argue that neoliberalism and biopolitics should be considered two complementary governmental rationalities, and that biopolitical rationalities contribute to governing the uncertainties and risks stemming from the neoliberalization of life. Biopolitics, in other words, plays a key role in governing the resilience of neoliberalism. Through this conceptual lens, the article explores how biopolitical rationalities of care have been deployed to govern the neoliberal crisis of the Greek sovereign debt which threatened the stability of the European banking system and, I shall argue, the neoliberal life, wealth and well-being of the European population. The article discusses how biopolitical racism is an essential component of the biopolitical governance of neoliberalism. Biopolitical racism displaces the sources of risk, dispossession, and inequality from the neoliberal regime to ‘inferior’ populations, whose lack of compliance with neoliberal dictates is converted into a threat to our neoliberal survival. This threat deserves punishment and authorizes further dynamics of neoliberal dispossession.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/1354066116676321
Uncontrolled keywords: Neoliberalism, biopolitics, Foucault, governmentality, resilience, Greek sovereign debt crisis
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Luca Mavelli
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2016 13:52 UTC
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2020 12:43 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/58854 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Mavelli, Luca: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6163-2971
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