The Biopolitics of Catastrophe

“The Biopolitics of Catastrophe, or How to Avert the Past and Regulate the Future”

My article for a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly (Volume 115, Number 2, April 2016) edited by Sara Guyer and Richard C. Keller. 

Table of Contents


Catastrophes now are part of our daily lives, as though the apocalypse could hit us each morning. Yet this crazy relation to the world is a sane response to postmodern society. A new form of governance that I call the biopolitics of catastrophe has come into being in the attempt to metabolize this new relation to the world, this new sensitivity to potential disasters. Biopolitics of catastrophe has two modes: (1) an averting mode, whose goal is to avert events in advance, and (2) a regulating mode, whose function is to erase events after the fact. Grounded on this perverted temporality, this new form of governance blocks the advent of an ecopolitics that could act on the causes rather than the effects of the environmental damages that we are already suffering.

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