Virus as a figure of geontopower or how to practice Foucault now?

A conversation with Elizabeth A. Povinelli


  • Fabiana Jardim University of São Paulo
  • Annika Skoglund Uppsala University
  • Anindya Sekhar Purakayastha Kazi Nazrul University and ILSR, Calcutta
  • David Armstrong King's College London



Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Franz Boas Professor at Columbia University, is a philosopher and anthropologist who has critically engaged with Michel Foucault’s ideas as well as scholarship inspired by his works. Povinelli has been dedicated to research on colonialism within liberalism and is also a filmmaker and founding member of The Karrabing Film Collective. The film collective is part of a larger organization of Aboriginal peoples and artists living in the Australian Northern Territory that refuses ‘fantasies of sovereignty and property’.[1]

As Povinelli shares with us during the interview, her trajectory was constituted in the middle of the 1980s following her life-changing encounter with the elders in Belyuen in the Australian Northern Territory. In the wake of that encounter, and with urgent issues raised about indigeneity due to changes in Australian law, Povinelli has been working even closer with her Karrabing family. The changes in law both acknowledged Aboriginal peoples' rights to their territory and imposed certain ideas of identity, family and culture, producing an entanglement between rights and government. These efforts to manage differences – cultural, race, gender – are problematized and deciphered in Povinelli’s ethnographic work with a focus on how late settler liberalism has been reconfigured with novel expressions of colonialism and imperialism. Now embedded...

Author Biographies

Fabiana Jardim, University of São Paulo

Fabiana Jardim is a sociologist, Associate Professor at the School of Education (University of São Paulo, Brazil). She was Visiting Fellow at the College of Arts & Social Sciences – Australian National University (2023). Her research focuses on the themes of Latin American governmentality, citizenship, violence, and memory, trying to theoretically account both for the history of invasion and slavery as for the dictatorships and new regimes of violence that mark the recent history of the continent.

Annika Skoglund, Uppsala University

Annika Skoglund is Associate Professor at Uppsala University and Director of Uppsala School of Entrepreneurship. She is also Senior Lecturer at the University of Bristol Business School and co-editor of the journal Foucault Studies. Skoglund’s research is ethnographic, with focus on how new organisational forms arise and affect businesses, technological paths and the human. She has recently published a research monograph on Climate Activism (Cambridge University Press, 2022) and her research appears in journals such as Organization Studies, Human Relations, Critical Policy Studies and Children’s Geographies.

Anindya Sekhar Purakayastha, Kazi Nazrul University and ILSR, Calcutta

Anindya Sekhar Purakayastha, currently with the School of Translation and Cultural Studies, Institute of Language Studies and Research (ILSR), Calcutta, is Professor of English at Kazi Nazrul University, India. He was a Leibniz Fellow and Visiting Professor at the PRIF – Leibniz-Institut für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung (Peace Research Centre), Frankfurt in 2023. His recent books include Deleuze and Guattari and Terror (co-edited, Edinburgh University Press, 2022), Social Movements, Media and Civil Society in Contemporary India: Historical Trajectories of Public Protest and Political Mobilization (co-authored, Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), etc. He co-edits Kairos, the Journal of Critical Symposium.

David Armstrong, King's College London

David Armstrong is Professor Emeritus in Medicine and Sociology at King’s College London. His research focuses on the sociology of medical knowledge. He also publishes on multimorbidity and the human microbiome.


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How to Cite

Jardim, F., Skoglund, A., Purakayastha, A. S., & Armstrong, D. (2023). Virus as a figure of geontopower or how to practice Foucault now? A conversation with Elizabeth A. Povinelli. Foucault Studies, (35), 211–231.



Special Issue: Biopolitical Tensions after Pandemic Times