Rowman and Littlefield International

The Aesthetics of Necropolitics

Edited by Natasha Lushetich

Publication date:

11 December 2018

Length of book:

228 pages


Rowman & Littlefield International

ISBN-13: 9781786606853

Every politics is an aesthetic. If necropolitics is the (accelerated) politics of what is usually referred to as the ‘apolitical age’, what are its manoeuvres, temporalities, intensities, textures, and tipping points? Bypassing revelatory and reconstructionist approaches – the tendency of which is to show that a particular site or practice is necropolitical by bringing its genealogy into evidence – this collection of essays by artist-philosophers and theorist curators articulates the pre-perceptual working of necropolitics through a focus on the senses, assignments of energy, attitudes, cognitive processes, and discursive frameworks.

Drawing on different yet complementary methodologies (visual, performance, affect, and network analysis; historiography and ethnography), the contributors analyse cultural fetishes, taboos, sensorial and relational processes anchored in everyday practices, or cued by specific artworks. By mapping the necropolitics’ affective cartography, they expand the concept beyond its teleological, anthropocentric, and reductive horizon of ‘making and letting die’ to include posthuman and posthumous actants, effectively arguing for the necropolitics’ transformatory, political potential.
The Aesthetics of Necropolitics offers penetrating essays on contemporary artistic and theoretical attempts to grapple with our shiny techtoys and medicalized bodies, and the abattoirs, literal and metaphorical, of their bio-informatic production. Natasha Lushetich's Prologue locates Mbembe's term in its theoretical matrix and sets up the way in which the essays probe and twist that which "necropolitics" reveals of our world: its gendering, racializing, and sexualizing practices; the politicizing and de-politicizing of "citizens" and "refugees"; and intersecting all of them, the management of life and the dealing of death. The essays themselves produce a mixed feeling of pride and shame: pride at the courage and inventiveness of the authors, and shame at living in a world whose practices they so carefully investigate. One can only hope that such shame can provoke resistance to what so many have to see and suffer today.