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ANS Adv Nurs Sci. 2010 Jul-Sep;33(3):234-43. doi: 10.1097/ANS.0b013e3181eb4200.

Rethinking biopower: posthumanism, bare life, and emancipatory work.

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College of Nursing, University of Utah, UT, USA.


This article answers a call, recently published in Advances in Nursing Science, to more fully explore the use of Italian political philosopher Giorgio Agamben's theory of biopower in nursing research and scholarship. Giorgio Agamben argues that biopower is not a modern phenomenon, and critical analysis of the historical origins of Western political practice shows how humanist discourse has been complicit in a long tradition of marginalization and violence, accomplished in each era by designating certain classes of human beings as "bare life." I discuss how I have used Agamben's theory to frame my own research, and the challenges of applying this theory in emancipatory work.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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