Section on Biopolitics and Violence

Biopolitics and Violence in International Relations

The problematic of biopolitics has become increasingly important in the study of international relations. Inspired by the pioneering research of Michel Foucault and the subsequent development of the problematic of biopolitics in a variety of schools, IR scholars 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 on 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 noted already in Foucault’s History of Sexuality I, but its full implications have been elaborated in the more recent theories of Giorgio Agamben, Roberto Esposito and other authors who emphasize the inextricable link between biopolitics and violence. The relation between biopolitics and violence is a particularly important theme for IR research, since the contradiction between the ambition of governance to protect and improve life and its actual subjection, exposure and negation is arguably most striking in the international context. The proposed section aims to bring together scholars with diverse disciplinary backgrounds in order to address the relationship between biopolitics and violence both theoretically, through hermeneutic and genealogical analysis, and empirically, focusing on the thanatopolitical conversion of power at a variety of sites in contemporary global politics, e.g. security, economy and development.

Sergei Prozorov,
University of Helsinki/Academy of Finland

The programme chairs of the 9th Pan-European Conference on International Relations invite paper, panel, and roundtable proposals for submission to any of the 64 sections on the 2015 programme.

All sections welcome individual paper proposals, and most welcome panel/roundtable proposals as well – please contact section chairs to inquire about this. Each 105-minute panel/roundtable should comprise five papers/presenters plus a discussant who will also act as panel/roundtable chair. 

Proposals (with abstracts of 200 words maximum) must be submitted, starting 8 December 2014, via our online submission system:

Please note that there will be a participation limit of three contributions per participant – whether as paper giver, roundtable speaker, or discussant/chair (any of these roles counts as one contribution).

There will be no open section: all paper, panel, and roundtable proposals must fit into the sections listed above and be submitted online to the appropriate sections. A given proposal can be submitted to only one section at a time.

The closing date for paper, panel, and roundtable proposals is midnight (CET) on 15 January 2015

For any question regarding their section please contact the section chairs

For any questions on the conference, please contact the programme chairs, Ian Bruff and Inanna Hamati-Ataya at

If you have any technical problems with the online submission system, please contact Elem Eyrice

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