Neoliberalism and Education

Event Date: 

Saturday, February 28, 2015 - 1:45pm

Event Location: 

  • Maude Fife Auditorium
  • Wheeler Hall
  • UC Berkeley
  • Talk

Conference Title: Neoliberalism + Biopolitics

Talk Title: Innovation as Biopower—and After

Over the past two decades neoliberalism and biopolitics have emerged as essential terms for critical theorists of all stripes attempting to analyze ongoing transformations in social and political life. As both objects of study and frames for analysis, neoliberalism and biopolitics have served as key ciphers for those attempting to appreciate the novelty of contemporary political rationalities, forms of social control, technological developments, and economic orders. This conference aims to produce a conversation among major thinkers currently working to develop and problematize these two concepts. Envisioned as a dialogue among diverse theorists, we hope to extend the discussion across disciplinary lines by bringing together scholars from both the humanities and social sciences.

Michel Foucault’s 1978-79 College de France lectures famously linked biopolitics and neoliberalism at both the historical and conceptual level; contemporary usage of both terms, however, extends well beyond Foucault’s original articulation. Part of the ambition of this conference is to interrogate the compatibility or incommensurability of different approaches seeking to deploy both concepts. Along these lines, we hope to probe the possibilities and limitations of neoliberalism and biopolitics as paradigms for critically analyzing how power operates in late capitalist modernity.

To this end we hope to consider some of the following questions:

  • In what ways do neoliberalism and biopolitics demand a rethinking of traditional Marxian and post-Marxist approaches and categories for analyzing capitalism, labor, commodification, production, consumption, and culture?

  • How do neoliberalism and biopolitics differently account for the emergence of human capital, processes of economization, and the governance of individuals and populations? Which elements and shifts are most significant in the attempt to theorize and historicize the transformation of liberalism to neoliberalism in the past half-century?

  • What novel technological developments do neoliberalism and biopolitics deploy in the regulation, transformation, and management of life? How do contemporary approaches to the study of science and technology intersect with critiques of neoliberalism and biopolitics?

  • To what degree do regimes of biopolitical and neoliberal governance extend or differ as they cross national and international borders? How do they force us to reconsider relations among nations, states, international institutions, and non-governmental organizations in the context of processes of globalization, decentralization, privatization, and economic integration?