Ashgate Research Companion to Biopolitics

The problematic of biopolitics has become increasingly important in the study of political science. Inspired by the pioneering research of Michel Foucault and the subsequent development of this problematic in a variety of theoretical schools, political scientists have started addressing the rationalities of power that go beyond traditional sovereign-territorial logics and rather take the vital processes of the population as their object.

One of the main puzzles of the studies of biopolitics has been the relation between the positive and productive orientation of biopower and the negative power of exclusion and annihilation, which Foucault associated with sovereign power. The conversion of biopolitics into ‘thanatopolitics’ that annihilates the very life it was intended to protect was already noted in Foucault’s History of Sexuality I, but its full implications have been elaborated in the more recent works of Giorgio Agamben, Roberto Esposito and other authors who emphasise the inextricable link between biopolitics and its apparent opposite. This paradox makes biopolitics the site where the fundamental questions of political theory pertaining e.g. to power, legitimacy and community, intersect with empirical inquiries into the governance of reproduction, health promotion, pandemics, torture, euthanasia and other issues.

This Section follows two Sections on biopolitics that I organised at the 8th EISA Conference in Warsaw in 2013 and the 9th EISA conference in Giardini Naxos in 2015. These Sections contributed to the formation of a pan-European multidisciplinary network of biopolitics researchers and many of the presented Papers were eventually published in the Ashgate Research Companion to Biopolitics (2016), co-edited by Sergei Prozorov and Simona Rentea. This Section seeks to further develop this network, this time focusing more on the domestic rather than the international context. The Section will bring together scholars with diverse disciplinary backgrounds in order to address the relationship between biopolitics and thanatopolitics both theoretically and empirically.

The Section will comprise five Panels, each with five Papers. Two Panels are reserved for theoretically oriented Papers, dealing with the relation between bio- and thanato-politics in Foucault’s political thought and post-Foucauldian theories of biopolitics. The remaining Panels address the same relation in three key contexts of biopolitical governance: political economy, particularly the forms of life promoted by neoliberal governmental rationalities; gender politics, particularly the deployment of gender as an instrument of governance, and, finally, the impact of innovations in technology on the transformation of the political subject. The Section Chairs are open to other Panel and individual Paper proposals.

Section Chairs’ Bios

Sergei Prozorov is Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki. 
He is the author of seven monographs, the most recent being The Biopolitics of Stalinism: Ideology and Life in Soviet Socialism (Edinburgh University Press, 2016). He has also published numerous articles on political theory and global politics in Political Theory, Political Studies, Theory, Culture and Society, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Political Geography and other international journals.

Mika Ojakangas is Professor of Political Thought at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. He is the author of six books and over 80 articles. His latest book, The Voice of Conscience (Bloomsbury, 2013) is a genealogy of the Western ethical experience. His new book on biopolitics in classical Greece is forthcoming with Routledge in 2016.

Stage 1: Call for Sections

Deadline 16 November 2015 (midnight GMT)

Sections: Anyone from an ECPR member institution may organise a Section. Co‑Chairs may come from Full, Associate or non-member institutions. You can check your institution’s membership status here.

All proposals to organise Sections must be in English, and submitted online using the form on the ECPR website.

Before completing the form, please note:

  • A Section consists of 3-8 Panels on a specific topic. Section proposals should describe the kind of Panels planned for the Section, including themes and potential Chairs. Formal Panel proposals should be submitted by Panel Chairs at the second stage of the application process
  • Only the proposed Section Chair can submit a Section proposal
  • Standing Groups can only endorse one Section proposal; however, this does not guarantee the Section’s acceptance
  • The submission process will be managed through the MyECPR part of the ECPR website. The proposed Section Chair and Co-Chair must both have a MyECPR account (please create an account here if you do not already have one)
  • Section proposals should be written in English

You should have the following information to hand to complete the Section proposal form:

  • The title of the Section (no more than 12 words long)
  • The proposal, containing an abstract, 3-8 well-developed Panel ideas, and a biography of each Section Chair (altogether no more than 1000 words long)
  • The Section Co-Chair’s email address, as registered in their MyECPR account
  • The number of Panels you wish to request (3-8)

Academic Convenors use the following criteria to judge Sections for acceptance:

  • Quality of the proposal
  • Experience and competence of Section Chairs
  • Participation potential

All proposals to organise Sections must be submitted online by 16 November 2015. The Academic Convenors will accept or decline proposed Sections by 1 December 2015. The number of Panels in each Section is determined by the Academic Convenors.

Proposers will be notified of the outcome of their Section submission in early December 2015. If you have not heard by the end of December 2015, contact the Events Team as soon as possible. Any queries regarding the academic content of the proposed Section should be addressed to the Academic Convenors via before the 16 November 2015 deadline.


Stage 2: Call for Panels (with Papers) and individual Papers

Deadline 15 February 2016 (midnight GMT)

The second stage of the process is open to anyone wishing to propose a complete Panel with Papers, and those wanting to propose individual Papers to a particular Section. Panels that have been provisionally proposed as part of accepted Sections must also be submitted through this procedure. Panels should include 4-5 Papers. There are no rules requiring proposers of Panels to belong to an ECPR member institution, but they must hold a MyECPR account.

Panel and Paper proposers have to complete the proposal process through the MyECPR area of the ECPR website. Once logged in, they will be asked to select which Section their Panel or Paper should be considered for (and, in the case of topics that cross more than one theme, to include the name of the alternative Section within their abstract). Panel proposers are required to select up to eight keywords. There is also an Open Section welcoming full Panel and individual Paper proposals that do not fit into any of the listed Sections.

When completing their application, Panel proposers must include details of the Panel abstract, Chair, Discussant, Papers and Paper presenters and co-authors.

You should have the following information to hand to complete the Panel proposal form:

  • The name/number of the Section you wish to propose to
  • The title of the Panel (no more than 20 words long)
  • The abstract (no more than 500 words)
  • Selection of 3-8 keywords
  • The Panel Co-Chair’s email address as registered in their MyECPR account
  • The Discussant’s email address as registered in their MyECPR account
  • The title of each Paper
  • The abstract of each Paper (no more than 500 words)
  • The Presenter’s email address as registered in their MyECPR account
  • The Co-author’s email address as registered in their My ECPR account

You should have the following information to hand to complete an individual Paper proposal form:

  • The name/number of the Section you wish to propose to
  • The title of the Paper  (no more than 20 words long)
  • The abstract of the Paper (no more than 500 words)
  • Selection of 3-8 keywords
  • The Co-author’s email address as registered in their My ECPR account

The deadline to submit complete Panels (with Papers) and individual Paper proposals is 15 February 2016 (midnight GMT).

From 2 December 2015, Section Chairs can view Panels and Papers being proposed to their Section via MyECPR. From 16 February 2016 they may accept and decline Panel and Paper proposals in their Section. Section Chairs have until 10 March 2016 to finalise their Sections via MyECPR.

Besides Panels provisionally indicated in their original Section proposal, Section Chairs will have received additional Panels (with Papers) and individual Paper proposals to their Section. These proposals should be evaluated equally alongside any already suggested by the Section Chairs.

When judging Panels for acceptance, Section Chairs should use the following criteria:

  • Quality of the proposal
  • Fit with Section theme

From 11 March 2016 the Academic Convenors will review the accepted Panels and Papers in order to finalise the Academic Programme. The deadline for Academic Convenors to complete their review is 25 March 2016.

The Academic Convenors may use their discretion to reallocate Panels and Papers to Sections and Panels where this is required. Section Chairs may, therefore, be asked to accommodate new Panels in their Sections, and Panel Chairs may be asked to accommodate extra Papers within their Panels.

Section Chairs, Panel Chairs, and Paper presenters will be contacted with the Academic Convenors’ decision in early April 2016.

Final Academic Programme

The Academic Programme will be available on the ECPR website by 1 April 2016 and participants will be notified of the outcome of the proposal by this date. A full timetable will be published by late-May 2016.

Amendments to Section/Panel/Paper information must be sent to the Events Team by 1 July 2016 in order to be included in the printed programme.


Online registration opens on 1 April 2016. Further details, including registration fees, will be on the ECPR website in due course; please check the cancellation policyParticipants attending and appearing in any capacity in the Academic Programme must register and pay before midnight GMT on 16 May 2016. Registration and payment takes place through MyECPR. Anyone who has not registered and paid by this date will not be included in the conference and automatically withdrawn and replaced.

Co-Authors who do not intend to register and attend the conference should email the Events Team by midnight GMT on 16 May 2016 to ensure their names appear in the conference programme.

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