Poetic Biopolitics: Practices of Relation in Architecture and the Arts

Edited by Peg Rawes, Timothy Mathews, Stephen Loo
Publisher: IBTauris & Co Ltd
50 Illustrations. 352 pages

As the French philosopher and social theorist Michel Foucault defined the concept, ‘biopolitics’ is the extension of state control over both the physical and political bodies of a population. Poetic Biopolitics is a positive attempt to explain and show how the often destructive effects and affects of biopolitical power structures can be deconstructed not only critically but poetically in the arts and humanities: in architecture, art, literature, modern languages, performance studies, film and philosophy. It is an interdisciplinary response to the contemporary global crisis of community conflict, social and environmental wellbeing. Structured in three parts – biopolitical bodies and imaginaries, voices and bodies, and social and environmental turbulence – this innovative book meshes performative and visual poetics with critical theory and feminist philosophy. It examines the complex expressions of our physical and psychic lives through artefact, body, dialogue, image, installation and word.

This is a profoundly optimistic and energizing book – a collection or collective of fascinatingly diverse, attentive chapters working together to examine the many “expressions of positively differentiated life” and singing out for the vital part aesthetic practices play in producing relations between bodies and spaces, opening out newly affirmative ways of thinking, conversing, making, writing and living. Kate Briggs, Assistant Professor in Comparative Literature and English, The American University of Paris

Despite the importance of space, distance and the emergence of relations in Foucault’s original theory of biopolitics and in Agamben’s later theory of the entire Western tradition as marked by biopolitical thresholds, there has been far too little sustained work on the poetic dimensions of biopolitics, with even less attention paid to the original sense of poiesis as a bringing into being of an object distinct from praxis. In this wonderfully edited collection of essays from a wide range of scholars, the concept of biopolitics is enriched and intensified by exploring the ways in which various arts reconfigure life, the polity and its intimate but complex relations. This book will be valuable for scholars in architecture, cultural theory, contemporary aesthetics, and anyone with an interest in one of the most difficult but intriguing concepts of twenty-first-century thought. Claire Colebrook, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English, Penn State University

Introduction Stephen Loo, Timothy Mathews and Peg Rawes
Part I The biopolitical body and the imaginary
1 Biopolitical ecological poetics, Peg Rawes
2 Biopolitics, bioethics and the capitalisation of female bodies, Mary C. Rawlinson
3 How close do you want to be? Kate Craig’s Delicate Issue, Cadence Kinsey
4 Other loving in Hélène Cixous’s ‘The Love of the Wolf’, Judith Still
5 Mistress O & the Bees: Biopolitics and the performance of a makeshift poetics, Stephen Loo and Undine Sellbach

Part II Poetic transitions: Voices and bodies
6 Towards a loving embrace, Timothy Mathews
7 Lina and Pina, Ana Araujo
8 Approaching interspecies space through Association for Imaginary Architecture, Joanne Bristol
9 utter matter, condensed, Julieanna Preston
10 Songs of the Aveyron and the Ariège After the Song of Songs, Sharon Morris
11 A postscript from Bartlebess: How to perform creative resistance in the workplace, Hélène Frichot

Part III Whirlwinds: Social and environmental performativity
12 Facts are no more solid, coherent, round and real than pearls are, Sandra Schäfer
13 Mapping turbulent gestures and liquid ground, Dorita Hannah and Carol Brown
14 Theatre-of-Self, Nested Selves and Three Point Nomad, Elaine Angelopoulos
15 A methodology of locks, Ella Finer, Emily Orley and P. A. Skantze
16 Café Carbon, The Gluts
17 Fuggles writes, (An autumn draught), Jane Rendell