Biopolitics and Democracy in Global Governance

Researcher: Sergei Prozorov

The project addresses the relationship between the two logics at work in contemporary global governance, democracy and biopolitics. Since the end of the Cold War, democracy has become the fundamental principle of global governance. Governance policies at such diverse sites as health care, development and environmental protection are both legitimized and contested in terms of democratic principles of participation, equality and accountability. At the same time, contemporary studies of global governance increasingly highlight its biopolitical character, oriented towards the positive management of the vital processes of the population. These two logics clearly follow different rationalities, the universalist and egalitarian aspirations of democracy contrasting with particularistic and quasi-naturalist presuppositions of biopolitics. While the problematic character of their combination has been noted by political theorists, it has barely been addressed in empirical studies. The project aims at filling this gap by inquiring into the relation between democracy and biopolitics as rationalities of governance. This question is addressed both on the theoretical level in the genealogy of the two rationalities in the Western politico-philosophical tradition and on the empirical level through the analysis of the interplay between democracy and biopolitics at specific sites of governance. The scientific impact of the study consists in bridging the gap between the studies of global governance and democratization on the one hand and the studies of biopolitics on the other. The societal impact of the project consists in illuminating the key contradictions, paradoxes or tensions in these practices, which enables both a reassessment of their effectiveness and a reconsideration of their legitimacy.

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