The unrequited love of power: biopolitical investment and the refusal of care

  • Sergei Prozorov Petrozavodsk State University


Despite its increasing prominence in critical political and IR theory, the significance of the Foucauldian problematic of biopolitics remains underestimated. The frequent conflation of paradigmatically distinct sovereign and biopolitical forms of power, inspired by influential readings of Agamben and Hardt and Negri, results in increasingly incoherent applications of the concept of biopolitics. This is particularly evident in the attempts to theorise resistance to bio-power, which remains cast in conventional 'emancipatory' terms of resisting transcendent and exterior power. Critically engaging with Hardt and NegriÕs attempt to theorise resistance to biopolitics in terms of the liberation of the domain of biopolitical production, this article offers an alternative pathway of resistance that consists of the refusal of biopolitical 'care of the living' and the creation of autonomous forms of life outside the terrain of biopolitical governmentality. The example of such resistance is offered by the social practices of the late-Soviet period, whereby the alienation from and subversion of the socialist biopolitics and the concomitant experimentation with alternative forms of life in the 'shadow society' reduced Soviet power to its pure form of sovereignty. The article concludes with outlining the implications of this mode of resistance in the contemporary context of the global neoliberal Empire.

Author Biography

Sergei Prozorov, Petrozavodsk State University
Sergei Prozorov received his Doctor of Social Sciences degree from the University of Tampere, Finland and was subsequently Research Fellow at the Danish Institute of International Studies, Copenhagen. He is presently Professor at the Faculty of Politics and Social Science at Petrozavodsk State University. Prozorov is the author of three monographs, the most recent being Foucault, Freedom and Sovereignty (Ashgate, 2007) as well as articles in Alternatives, Political Geography, Journal of Political Ideologies, Millennium and other journals.