At the turn of the last century, African thinker Achille Mbembe developed an urgent decolonial critique of Michel Foucault’s concept of “governmentality,” the process through which techniques of governing become modernized. For Foucault, whose thinking was largely focused on the history of central Europe, modernity was characterized by the displacement of a necropolitical understanding of sovereignty (in which power is exercised as violence) by a biopolitical management of the population. According to Mbembe, Foucault’s notion of biopower is insufficient to explain modern forms of subjugation: it does not account for the persistence of necropolitical techniques within liberal democracies, and it also disregards the centrality of colonial slavery as the condition of possibility for the development of western capitalism. The Industrial Revolution is inseparable from colonial imperialism and its technologies of race and power. As Saidiya Hartman has argued, central to the progress of capitalist economies was the possibility of transforming human life into an object of economic transaction—the slave—within the plantation regime. At the core of liberalism was, on one side, the conflation between violence and sovereignty, and, on the other, the tension between the free circulation of property and the political freedom of subjects. In parallel with Mbembe, contemporary feminist and trans thinkers, such as Judith Butler, Silvia Federici, Jack Halberstam, and Dean Spade, have developed different accounts of the persistence of sexual violence against women and sexual minorities within democratic regimes, which have nuanced Foucault’s understanding of biopolitics.
Necropower has become a key concept for understanding the generalized instrumentalization of life and the material destruction of the Earth in the global postcolonial condition that includes the extermination of all biocultural systems. Today, understanding the exercise of power as death is crucial for conceiving the possibility of action and resistance within what Jason W. Moore has called the “Capitalocene” (the age of the capital) and Donna Haraway has termed the “Chthulucene,” the age in which we will learn to survive through the collaborative entanglement of human and nonhuman ecologies.
In the context of proliferating wars, economic violence imposed by debt policies, racism, sexism, neocolonial occupation, mass incarceration, ecological exploitation, restriction of the right of migration, and cultural destruction, the Society for the End of Necropolitics meets once a month to explore contemporary links between power and terror, between subjectivity and violence within the neoliberal global condition. These meetings bring together artists, activists, and contemporary thinkers in discussion and include lectures, screenings, artists’ interventions, seminars, and workshops. Ultimately, the aim of this Society is to enable the production of dissident narratives that trigger resistance, cooperation, and survival for political and poetic transformation.
All events of the Society are free and open to the public.