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Democratic Biopolitics

Popular Sovereignty and the Power of Life

Sergei Prozorov

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Develops the first positive synthesis of democracy and biopolitics

Contemporary studies of biopolitics assume that the rise of biopolitical governance entails the eclipse of democracy. The abstract egalitarianism of democratic government appears to be incompatible with the concrete, particularist and individualising operations of biopower.

Sergei Prozorov challenges the assumption that the biopolitical governance means the end of democracy, arguing for a positive synthesis of biopolitics and democracy. He develops a vision of democratic biopolitics where diverse forms of life can coexist on the basis of their reciprocal recognition as free, equal and in common. He demonstrates how this vision can be realised and sustained by using examples of our lived experience.

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Prologue: Towards an Experimental Analytics of Government
Biopolitics and the Eclipse of Democracy
Affirmative Biopolitics
A Note on Method
Outline of the Argument

Part 1: Rousseau and the Critique of Biopolitics

1. Rousseau’s Aporia
The Divided Demos
Subtraction: The Constitution of the Sovereign
Emanation: The Constitution of Government
Politics: the Existence of the People
Government over Kingdom
Individual as Universe

2. The Community of Solitary Walkers
The Free Subject of Reverie
The Universal and the Singular
Rousseau and Radical Democracy
Rousseau’s Ambivalent Legacy
Democracy as the Experience of the Generic

Part II: Freeform Life

3. Biopower and the Politics of Contingency
Towards a Democratic Biopolitics
Biopower in the Void
The Scandal of Contingency
Freedom, Equality, Community

4. Is There a Democratic Form of Life?
The Disappointments of the Faithful Democrat
Democracy of the Incommensurable
Democratic Mannerism 

5. Demos Distracted
Between Captivation and Boredom
The Importance of Getting Carried Away
The Unborable

6. How to Enjoy Democracy Again (and Again)
The Malaise of Democracy
The Pleasure of Formation
Democratic Biopolitics in the Age of Post-Truth

Epilogue: Why Democracy is Good for Life

About the Author

Sergei Prozorov is Professor of Political Science at the University of Jyväskylä. He is the author of books including The Biopolitics of Stalinism (2016) and Agamben and Politics (2014), also published by Edinburgh University Press. He has published over 30 articles in major international journals. His research interests include political philosophy, theories of democracy and totalitarianism, biopolitics and governance.

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