Biopolitical Correspondences: Settler Nationalism, Thanatopolitics, and the Perils of Hybridity


‘How does (post)colonial literary culture, so often annexed to nationalist concerns, interface with what Michel Foucault called biopolitics? Biopolitics can be defined as the regularisation of a population according to the perceived insistence on norms. Indeed, biopolitics is crucially concerned with what is perceptible at the macroscopic level of an entire population - often rendering its operations blind to more singular, small, identitarian, or even communitarian representations and imaginaries. Unlike the diffuse, microscopic, governmental mechanisms of surveillance that identify the need for disciplinary interventions, biopolitics concerns itself with the regularisation of societies on a large scale, notably through demography. As Ann Laura Stoler has put it, Foucault’s identification of these two forms of power, ‘the disciplining of individual bodies…and the regularization of life processes of aggregate human populations’ has led to much productive work in the postcolonialist critique of ‘the discursive management of the sexual practices of the colonized’, and the resultant ‘colonial order of things’ (4).’ (Author’s introduction, 20)

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Published 1 June 2011 in Volume 26 No. 2. Subjects: Aboriginal assimilation (Government policy), Aboriginal-White conflict, Aboriginality, Biopolitics, Colonialism & imperialism - Literary portrayal, Human relations, Hybridity, Population growth.

Cite as: Griffiths, Michael R.. ‘Biopolitical Correspondences: Settler Nationalism, Thanatopolitics, and the Perils of Hybridity.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 26, no. 2, 2011, doi: 10.20314/als.faeabec9e4.