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Panagiotis Sotiris: On the Possibility of a Democratic Biopolitics

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought forward all the questions associated with the field of biopolitics, not only in terms of theory but also in terms of government policies and measures, exemplified in the varieties of the lockdown strategy. The aim of this presentation is to suggest the possibility of an alternative democratic biopolitics that could be part of a potential ‘communist governmentality’ and that would overcome the many limits and problems associated with the 'lockdown strategy'. To that aim, I will revisit the conceptualization of biopolitics that we can find in the work of Michel Foucault, reading both his writings on biopolitics and his later writings on care of the self and parrhesia (the courage to speak the truth), before attempting to see the relevance of such notions in the context of the pandemic and the need for radical alternatives to the dominant strategy.

Panagiotis Sotiris works as a journalist in Athens and teaches at the Hellenic Open University. He is a member of the Historical Materialism editorial board. His most recent book is A Philosophy for Communism: Rethinking Althusser (Brill, 2020). He has published several professional and scientific articles on the topic of the COVID-19 pandemic, including “Against Agamben: Is a Democratic Biopolitics Possible?” (Critical Legal Thinking, March 2020) and “Thinking Beyond the Lockdown: On the Possibility of a Democratic Biopolitics” (Historical Materialism, September 2020).

The lecture will be in English and moderated by Lea Kuhar, a member of the ILS programme committee. It will be streamed on YouTube.