Death in Biopolitical Times

French philosopher Michel Foucault argues that it is not sex but death that is the true taboo in the modern, biopolitical era. The result is that regular death has been privatized and institutionalized, capital punishment has become a scandal, and suicide has been pathologized. Foucault portrays suicide not as a mark of pathology, but as a form of resistance (tragic or pleasurable) to disciplinary power. This presentation will discuss Foucault’s accounts of suicide and will explore the thesis that the pathological model of suicide produces the subjects that it intends to treat.

Chloë Taylor is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alberta. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and was a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University. Her research interests include twentieth-century French philosophy (especially the works of Michel Foucault), philosophy of sexuality, feminist philosophy, philosophy of food and animal ethics. She is the author of The Culture of Confession from Augustine to Foucault (Routledge 2009) and is currently working on a manuscript entitled Sex Crimes and Misdemeanours: Foucault, Feminism, and the Politics of Sexual Crime. She is an editor of the journals Foucault Studies and PhaenEx.