Neoliberalism + Biopolitics Working Group | Revisiting Foucault: The Biopolitics Lectures and Beyond

Michael Kowen

The opening session of the Neoliberalism + Biopolitics Working Group provides a space for discussion of the lasting insights, limitations, and potential applications of Foucault’s The Birth of Biopolitics Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978-79. Linking neoliberalism and biopolitics at both the historical and conceptual level, Foucault’s prescient lecture series lays the groundwork for the working group’s concern with the contemporary management of populations through diverse practices of economization, privatization, and financialization. Potential topics of discussion include the differences between liberal and neoliberal political rationality; human capital and modes of neoliberal conduct; the specificity of neoliberal governmental techniques; and the difference between biopower and biopolitics. In preparation, we will read the last section of The History of Sexuality and three lectures from The Birth of Biopolitics, digital copies of which will be available for workshop participants.


Michel Foucault, “Right of Death and Power Over Life,” The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction, Vintage 1998, 134-158.

—. “Lecture Eleven: 17, March, 1976,” “Society Must Be Defended,” Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975-1976, Picador 2003, 239-263.

—. “Lecture Six: 14, February, 1979,” Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978-1979, Picador 2010, 129-151.

—. “Lecture Nine: 14, March, 1979,” Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978-1979, Picador 2010, 215-233.

—. “Lecture Ten: 21, March 1979,” Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978-1979, Picador 2010, 239-261.

**This session is full. Please contact to register for future sessions. We will also be recording many of these events and invite you to check back one week after the event for the recording.

The Neoliberalism + Biopolitics Working Group is supported by The Program in Critical Theory, UC Berkeley’s Divisions of Arts & Humanities and Social Sciences, and the University of California Humanities Research Institute. The program is organized by UC Berkeley graduate students William Callison (Ph.D. Candidate Political Science, DE Critical Theory) and Zachary Manfredi (Ph.D. Candidate Rhetoric), and supervised by Program in Critical Theory faculty Martin Jay (Professor of History) and Wendy Brown (Professor of Political Science).

Introduction: William Callison, PhD. Candidate in Political Science, Designated Emphasis Critical Theory, UC Berkeley