Week 3 posts

Post your response to week 3’s readings in the comments below.

Here’s a website that gives super short definitions of Foucault’s key concepts.


8 thoughts on “Week 3 posts

  1. In Part Five of his The History of Sexuality, titled Right of Death and Power over Life, Michel Foucault begins by discussing the grand scale on which states now enact power over human life. In order to secure the lives of their citizens–the folks at home– (so the reasoning often goes), states threaten and sometimes carry out the destruction of entire populations. “The principle underlying the tactics of battle– that one has to be capable of killing in order to go on living– has become the principle that defines the strategy of states,” Foucault writes (Foucault 137). This quote is applicable to any number of historical situations, but I find it particularly timely today as the United States continues to destroy lives overseas through direct military intervention and by attempting to completely shut its doors to the already small number of refugees once allowed to seek asylum in the US. The rhetoric behind this bloody mindset is that such actions will maintain the security of Americans, despite the fact that several statistics prove otherwise. As Foucault states, “at stake is the biological existence of the population”, something states are becoming increasingly concerned with (Foucault 137).
    Foucault goes on to describe the dual poles constituting the “power over life” that he argues evolved after modes of sovereignty started shifting away from the power to take life towards the power to foster life, “the disciplines of the body and the regulations of the population constituted the two poles around which the organization of power over life was deployed… the old power of death that symbolized sovereign power was now carefully supplanted by the administration of bodies and the calculated management of life” (Foucault 138-40). Foucault sets up these two poles of power– one concerned with the body and the other with the body politic– in order to highlight the extreme importance of sex, “[Sex] was employed as a standard for the disciplines and as a basis for regulations… but one also sees it becoming the theme of political operations, economic interventions (through incitements to or curbs on procreation), and ideological campaigns for raising the standards of morality and responsibility” (Foucault 146). Here, I believe Foucault uses the term sex to mean a variety of things, that is, one’s sex, one’s gender, one’s sexuality, and the act of sex itself. Later, he goes on to argue that sex must not be thought of as an an independent entity which gives rise to sexuality, but “on the contrary, sex is the most speculative, most ideal, and most internal element in a deployment of sexuality organized by power in its grip on bodies and their materiality… It is through sex– in fact, an imaginary point determined by the deployment of sexuality– that each individual has to pass in order to have access to his own intelligibility” (Foucault 155). It is easy to see where Foucault has influenced Butler’s ideas about the performative sexed ideal, the norm produced by power and reinforced by its infinite citations that one has to embody in order to be readable by society.
    When Foucault speaks of power, discipline, and regulation as means of asserting control over the body and the body politic, he is speaking of the power, discipline, and regulations asserted by “apparatuses”. As Giorgio Agamben concludes in his aptly titled essay “What Is an Apparatus”, this term has a long history in traditions not just of philosophy, but of theology, that makes its meaning rich and complex. Agamben traces the term through linguistic time. He starts with Greek oikonomia, which was significant in the theological explanation of the “Divine Trinity” in Christianity: that God, in his being, is one, but his oikonomia, or his management of the world, is triple (Agamben 9-10). The Latin translation of oikonomia is dispositio, which leads to the French word dispositif, meaning apparatus. Agamben makes this insight, “The ‘dispositifs’… can be in some way traced back to the fracture that divides… in God being and praxis, the nature of essence… and the operation through which He administers and governs the created world, on the other. The term ‘apparatus’ designates that in which, and through which, one realizes a pure activity of governance devoid of any foundation in being. This is the reason why apparatuses must always imply a process of subjectification, that is to say, they must produce their subject” (Agamben 11). I quote Agamben at length here because I think that this particular definition of “apparatus” (he gives many throughout the essay) is key. A subject, according to Agamben and Foucault, can only be constructed through a system of apparatuses. The theological background is helpful in understanding subjecthood not as an existence, but as a praxis over which subjects themselves have little to no control. It is an operation operated by apparatuses.
    All of this theory can be seen in the examples provided in “Hormonal Biopolitics”, the fourth chapter of Emilia Sanabria’s Plastic Bodies: Sex Hormones and Menstrual Suppression in Brazil. In 2009 study of public health institutions in Brazil, Sanabria investigated the means by which private and public health care reflects and creates social differences across populations. Let’s go back to Foucault’s two poles. In discussing the biological existence of the population, Foucault underscores the importance not only of the disciplines of the body, but also the regulation of the population. Well, the regulation of the population is not only related to sex, but to methods of preventing or encouraging reproduction. Sanabria notes, “many of the micro-interactions I observed in public-sector or nongovernmental family planning services are directed at getting women to ‘take responsibility,’ in a context where birth control is seen as integral to lifting the nation out of underdevelopment… poverty is considered to be the result of excessive fertility, rather than its cause” (Sanabria 138). This being the case, the public health institutions push injectable birth control, rather than the daily pill, on their patients because there is a sense that working-class women who can’t afford private health insurance are most likely to misuse the pill, which could mean bearing the type of children that the healthcare “apparatus” hopes to prevent (Sanabria 140). Issues not only of class but of race come to bear here, and poor patients of color are more likely to be approved for vasectomies and tubal ligations than their middle-class, white counterparts, even if they don’t meet the usual criteria used to determine whom to perform the procedure upon (Sanabria 143-5). This are some aspects of the complicated issue of population regulation in Brazil. When it comes to disciplines of the body, Sanabria notes that wealthier women who can afford private-sector health care are more concerned with the extracontraceptive effects of subdermal hormonal implants, which, according to the Brazilian elite to whom this type of birth control is marketed, give women higher libidos, and make their bodies more aesthetically pleasing. In this way, the private healthcare system is invested in the disciplines of the female body. The public-sector is one pole in Foucault’s biopolitics, and the private sector is the other. And, as apparatuses, they both play a crucial role in the production of subjects (as in, the conception of actual human babies and the production of the ideal female subject that females are supposed to strive to be).


  2. The section “The Right of Death and the Power Over Life” from Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality Volume 1, traces the history of the state’s power over life, death, and the body. He begins with the earliest form of this, which was the Roman idea that the father, who had given life to the slave and the child, also had the power to take it away. This eventually evolved into the sovereign’s unconditional right to wage war and/or force citizens to defend the state in his name. This evolved into the more modern concept of war, which relies on an argument of survival, not just of the prince, but of the entire population. This modern conception revolves around massacring the other population before our population is massacred. Ironically enough, he claims this issue of survival is also what might bring the end to war once and for all, as atomic bombs bring the question back into the forefront. Starting in the 17th and into the 18th century, power over life began to morph into two completely different forms. The first focused on the body as a machine to increase efficiency (by increasing usefulness and docility among workers), and the second focused on the advances in technology that affected things like life expectancy and other biological processes. Also at this time, and into the 19th century, a transformation was occurring within the nature of life and death. Humanity began to master them; death became less random, and life became more of a concrete thing. With this, the most significant form of control over the body was not through death, but through controlling in life.
    Giorgio Agamben’s “What is an apparatus?” explores what Foucault means exactly by his word apparatus. He uses an interview with Foucault to surmise that what he meant was essentially the “network” that is established by any number of things being sorted under the same heading. Using some ideas from Hyppolite, Foucault’s teacher, he identifies that the power in the term is its very breadth, or its ability as a general term to refer not specifically to “this or that technology of power,” but to the network between them. He then explores the history of the term “oikonomia” and how it changed because of the need for people to convince Christians that God, of one of the biggest monotheistic religions, is actually part of a Holy Trinity while still being a single God.

    The third reading is about Brazil and its quest to “humaniz[e] medical attention” in response to an increasing culture of disinterest in the individuality of the patients. Sanabria aims to highlight the differences between the way that patients with public and private health care are treated in this country. She mentions that the success of the private health care places comes from a highly individualized process that is different for each patient, while the SUS patients’ treatments were standardized. She goes into the different ways that sex hormones are distributed in Brazil, which vary a lot in both price and medium of use, and she indicates that her interest is finding how politics intersects with these different methods. The foremost way that this is seen is through a kind of stigma that exists in Brazil whereby you are considered somewhat of a second-class citizen if you are not receiving health care. Therefore, for many low-income people, entrance into this system of body regulation is necessary for attaining a certain social status.


  3. This week’s readings primarily focused on the different ways in which the different apparatuses of society control the body and our movement within it. For a being to be recognized within society, they must first be seen as existing within that environment. Emilia Sanabria’s piece Plastic Bodies explored menstrual suppression in Brazil, and the ways in which women’s bodies are not truly recognized by the apparatuses of control. Sanabria writes, “[h]ere, taking responsibility is part of constructing oneself as a (good) citizen. Good patients are those who comply with medical protocols and display proficiency with regaurd to both medical and institutional protocols” (Sanabria 138). In order for a woman to be recognized by the state apparatus in Brazil, she must exhibit the qualities of a “good” citizen. This means that she must be the “perfect” vessel of the rules and ideologies of the state. To the apparatus of control present within this culture, women do not in the same way that men do. This was evident when Sanabria was talking about men getting vasectomies. The man is a man regardless of his level of “machismo”, but a woman is only acknowledged if she is good. This idea carries over into the Brazilian policies on abortion, as well:
    “Abortion, as we saw, is illegal, and low-income women, for whom the cost of a safe abortion in a private clinic is prohibitive, rely on a range of alternative techniques to induce abortion themselves. If complications ensue—as they often do— a woman will present herself to a public maternity unit, stating that she is having a spontaneous abortion. In Brazil, medical councils, police, and health authorities all know about the private clinics but generally turn a blind eye” (Sanabria 152).
    The state will only help a woman if she is having complications with a “natural” abortion, rather than help her get through the process of terminating an unwanted child. The state would rather see these women die and still be “pure” in their eyes, than “tainted” and safe. Their lives do not matter if they are not in accordance with the laws of the state. A woman cannot be visible or move throughout the society of Brazil unless she is accepted as being a certain way.
    While Sanabria comments on the apparatuses present within culture today, both Agamben and Foucault take theoretical approaches to the ways in which apparatuses control society. In “What Is an Apparatus?”, Agamben defines an apparatus as “literally anything that has in some way the capacity to capture, orient, determine, intercept, model, control, or secure the gestures, behaviors, opinions or discourses of living beings” (Agamben 14). According to this definition there are a great many things that are present within the our realm that can be considered apparatuses. Apparatuses objectify the subject through the process of categorization. Apparatuses force us to see the world a certain way. The subject (or the individual) becomes its cog. The apparatus is dependent upon the individual to exercise it and continue its perpetuation. In that way, some apparatuses can be considered types of ideologies. Because these systems have so much control, they determine the ways in which we move through them. They do this through the process of categorization. Agamben writes, “[t]he fact is that according to all indications, apparatuses are not a mere accident in which humans are caught by chance, but rather are rooted in the very process of “humanization” that made “humans” out of the animals we classify under the rubric Homo sapiens” (Agamben 16). However, it is through that process that we limit the human experience. Through the defining of the experience and categorizing it, we are making it impossible to see the world without seeing it through one of the apparatus’s lenses: “[i]f a certain process of subjectification… corresponds to every apparatus, then it is impossible for the subject of an apparatus to use it “the right way.” Those who continue to promote similar arguments are, for their part, the product of the media apparatus in which they are captured” (Agamben 21). To regroup, Sanabria is arguing that in order for people to be recognized they must be seen within the apparatus and Agamben is arguing because we have given these apparatuses all the control, we cannot move freely throughout society.
    In the section of The History of Sexuality entitled “The Right of Death and Power Over Life”, Foucault investigates the ways in which power was transferred into these apparatuses. This text reminded me a lot of his other piece Discipline and Punish, because it talked about the powers of society lying in the societal forces that control our perception. The transfer of power over to these societal forces happened when the value of life was given more value than the act of taking it away. Foucault writes,“[t]he old power of death that symbolized sovereign power was now carefully supplanted by the administration of bodies and the calculated management of life” (Foucault 140-141). The monarchy and others who had power would hold that over their head. Now, “death is power’s limit, the moment that escapes it; death becomes the most secret aspect of existence, the most “private” (Foucault 138). We see death as the game over. The real punishment lies in the ability to control someone’s life, “[p]ower in this instance was essentially a right of seizure: of things, time, bodies, and ultimately life itself; it culminated in the privilege to seize hold of life in order to suppress it” (Foucault 136). The apparatuses of control within our society operate under this idea that they can control the time that we have while we are alive. I would argue that laws and rules are a type of apparatus that dictate our actions. Foucault writes, “[law is a power that] has to qualify, measure, appraise, and hierarchize, rather than display itself in its murderous splendor; it does not have to draw the line that separates the enemies of the sovereign from his obedient subjects; it effects distributions around the norm” (Foucault 144). We cannot escape the law and still be considered active members of society in which we live. We are not recognized without it. An extension of this apparatus is the apparatus of law enforcement. The police only have power because they can take away the most precious thing from you–your time. They can make the days of your life miserable. Simply ending your life would be an easy way out.
    All of these texts explore the ways in which a subject’s movement through space and time can be manipulated by the forces of society around them. By further exploring these texts, the reader can see that although these forces manipulate our perception, because they are manmade apparatuses, we can manipulate them through communal resistance. I believe it is our responsibility to examine the subjects that have been ignored and abused by these apparatuses of control and make the world better for them.


  4. Foucault’s History of Sexuality, specifically the Right of Death and Power Over Life, begins by drawing a clear dividing line between the intent and realized capabilities of power structures in the classical age and the modern western approach. The before, a time of godlike sovreighnty, expressed power in the potentiality to end life and begin it, a somewhat broad though clear idea: killing slaves at whim, killing children and family, ending all they know. Moving forward, focus shifts into a less brutish though harder to pin reality: that power’s main role “was to ensure, sustain, and multiply life, to put this life in order” (Foucault 138). Excessive execution became a contradiction, and that dissonance then shifted from an outright life-and-death dialectic to a somewhat grey control of the human experience, “replaced by a power to foster life or disallow it to the point of death” (Foucault 138). This line of thinking can be applied to our current time with great ease, as globally entire cultures are erased and killed by poverty, which is systemic but indirect. Suicide, once a “way to usurp the power of death” (Foucult 138) is now dissent because it violates the structure of power as fostering life, not simply because it reclaims the power to die. He then details the power of life system, beginning in the seventeenth century, by establishing two poles: the body as machine (the body politic), and the body as organism, with of which still hinged on the perseverance of life as valuable. The management of the body, social and individual, is a driving force of capitalism, also then making the body a perpetually political vessel. Sex as an act falls into both poles, and is thusly political as well. He asserts that sex uniquely succeeds as a tool of power because “while the deployment of sexuality permits the techniques of power to invest life, the fictitious point of sex, itself marked by that deployment, exerts enough charm on everyone for them to accept hearing the grumble of death within it” (Foucault 156); it charms and subtly influences, to the joy of mankind. Sex and the body as power self-perpetuates, and gladly.
    Branching off of Foucault’s dual body concept is Agamben’s analysis of ‘apparatus’, which clarifies that an apparatus is not merely the organism but the organism with governance, which “must always imply a process of subjectification, that is to say, they must produce their
    subject” (Agamben 11). The term refers to specifically the control of the body as power, as Foucault implied as well, which seeks to orient and direct behavior for ultimate productivity. There are living beings, he explains, and there are “apparatuses in which living beings are incessantly captured” (Agamben 13), be they material or conceptual with material repercussions (such as prison, or language). Then, the intersection of these poles, echoing the tension of Foucault’s body and body politic, is the subject, or “that which results from the relation and, so to speak, from the relentless fight between living beings and apparatuses” (Agamben 14). The apparatus could not exist without the origination of ‘humanization’, thereby the destruction of apparatus, and then the destruction of power, is inherently challenging, and subjectification happens to spawn a false freedom, and apparatus (in the form of religion or technology) enforces docility.
    Sanabria’s Plastic Bodies illustrates these terms in the real, using a case study of the biomedical dilemmas in Brazil, and breaking down the social divides but also social regulation of medical care, in this instance creating “sub- and super- citizens” (Sanabria 131). The regulation of contraceptives for example directly relates to Foucault’s assertions, with forms of contraceptives and availability being clear markers of caste. Easier, more permanent forms of contraceptives are suggested to the lower classes as means of population control, while upperclass women practice hormonal alteration and abundance, a hypersexuality, as top of the social ladder. The healthcare system is apparatus, exerts control over body, creates power. The lower class flings itself into this system for social reasons, and the cycle continues, creating both subjects (organisms under apparatus), and actual babies at the dictation of the state.


  5. Foucault so clearly states that “the purpose of the present study is in fact to show how deployments of power are directly connected to the body-to bodies, functions, physiological processes, sensations, and pleasures; far from the body having to be effaced, what is needed is to make it visible through and analysis in which the biological and the historical are not consecutive to one another, as in the evolutionism of the first sociologists, but are bound together in an increasingly complex fashion in accordance with the development of the modern technologies of power that take life as their objective” (151, 152). It is with this statement, and the rest of this chapter, that a reader can make the assumption that Foucault is arguing for the recognition of the use and consequential capital humans’ bodies and serve and deliver in modern Western capitalist society. This concept questions the current and pertinent use our bodies serve, who has control over them, and where that control generally stays. Through this question, I am reminded of a discussion I recently had with friends surrounding the legitimacy of prostitution, and what defines it. One friend questioned the relation athletes have to prostitutes, and if that relation is similar. This made me question the relations ballerinas have to prostitutes, and I have synthesized that their differentiation lies in legality and societal acceptance, as ballerinas (and athletes) and prostitutes similarly sell their bodies, however, the stakes and acceptance are different. I am interested into hearing others ideas of socially accepted prostitution, and the theoretical relationship it has to modern day biopolitics.

    In Agamben’s What Is an Apparatus, Agamben enforces the importance of terminology and a definition’s importance to understanding theory. He does this for the word and concept “apparatus,” and term frequently and discussed and used by Foucault, to illuminate the importance of apparatus. Agamben defines apparatus in summation to be a diverse and mixed set of concept and action found in hegemonic relation at “the intersection of power relations and relations of knowledge” (3). Then, Agamben finds apparatus to be subjectification and consequentially, desubjectification, as he argues that every subject, which is created from apparatus, is de-subjectified. For purposes of our conversation, I think this chapter is a great beginning to question our own subjectification and desubjectification as humans (simultaneously performers) and how that clashes with or adheres to our own agency, eg Agamben’s phone example.

    Sanabria’s chapter on hormonal bioethics was amazing! I find that her sentence: “the bio is always becoming, not something that is given or foundational to identity in the sense that genetic or disease classifications are” exemplifies the issue of accessibility to and opinions surrounding female hormones and menstruation in Brazil. She details the major problems between private and public sectors of healthcare, but I find the most compelling idea is that of the unchanging and nearly stubborn opinions surrounding the women receiving the different types of healthcare. These unchanging opinions promote self-fulfilling prophecies in both private-receiving and public-receiving communities. I would argue that this could call into question the validity of practices like sociology, where academics define a demographic, and those definitions stay around for way too long, forcing its demographic into cyclical self-fulfilling prophecy.


  6. Foucault’s section on Right of Death & Power over Life describes the transition between a ideological “symbolics of blood” to an “analytics of sex” (148). In place of the right of the sovereign to end life, came the potential power of optimization of bodies and groups of bodies and administration of life-extending strategies in order to generate more biopower. Through his concept of biopower, Foucault explains that the particular apparatus distributed around sex redefines a kind of power and control which conceals itself behind the positivistic rhetoric of liberation. Foucault tracks the transition from the direct and indirect threat of death to its rebirth in the mechanisms of sexuality and disciplinary power of the normative. By re-establishing the mechanisms that govern and make useful both individual bodies and bodies in large groups, the terms through which we, as individual subjects, understand ourselves to be free and ignore the ways in which we are regulated and exploited.

    Through Foucault’s ideas about sexuality in the modern understanding of subjectivity, Agamben fleshes out the apparatus that structures of biopower are built upon and embedded within. Agamben’s investigation into the apparatus as a network of connections that, like Foucault explains, exist in institutional structures and in discourse, creates the subject and defines the subject within the apparatus. On an individual level, the apparatuses that constrain the subject are transformed into an internalized system of beliefs and feelings and how these translate into practices and behaviors. The inescapable scope of these apparatuses are illustrated through Agamben’s example of the praxis of confession. The overlapping practices of making and unmaking subjects through confession shows how apparatuses create the framework through which the subject is constituted, “a new I is constituted through the negation…the split of the subject performed by the apparatus of penance resulted, therefore, in the production of a new subject” (20). The practice of confession is one example of the governing institutions that, through acceptance and continued practice, upholds a certain kind of personhood that works to discipline the individual and divide the masses into governable bodies.

    Sanabria takes Foucault and Agamben’s ideas about bodies and governance and applies them to a particular political and social context within Brazil’s reproductive health and family planning industry. The interaction between apparatuses of free market economics, government and NGO funding of public health, social and class hierarchy, and cultural understandings of gender and family create a dense web of conflicting interests when it comes to how the medical industry approaches reproductive health care in Brazil. The industry is structured to incentivize higher volumes of patients versus quality of care. In addition, the supply and cost of contraceptive methods constrains what is available to patients. The determining of how patients receive care is largely determined by factors of class, race, age, and gender. Sanabria’s analysis shows how ideas about families in conjunction with the aforementioned identity markers not only affects what kind of treatments doctors recommend but also how it colors their interactions with medical professionals is like. Under the neoliberal ideology of individual culpability, women can be determined to be too ‘forgetful’ to be offered oral contraceptives and are instead given hormonal shots which are regulated by their doctor. From the level of government down to the individual healthcare provider, the apparatus of control over reproduction is colored by myriad social, political, and economic forces that are inescapable and have immediate effects on the individuals constrained by the systems which seek to monitor and control them.


  7. The common narrative of the readings for this week is that of the recognition of value and meaning within a system. Foucault’s work acknowledges of the shift in ruling power from taking life to giving life. This is further stressed in the need to promote the life and well being of a community, even if this means ultimately sacrificing life for the lives of others to be continued. “Wars are no longer waged in the name of a sovereign who must be defended; they are waged on behalf of the existence of everyone; entire populations are mobilized for the purpose of wholesale slaughter in the name of life necessity” (Foucault, 137). This increasing power over life gave way to the value of the body as a source of labor and a source of life. It became important to subjugate bodies and regiment dominance over the population. Foucault refers to this value of the body as “bio-power”, which he ties to the needs of capitalism. This can also be seen from a Marxist approach as the way that bodies gain value is through their participation within a system. As Foucault later brings up sex, this can be regarded as the continuation of marking and subjugating bodies in order to determine their value and enter them into this system of “bio-power”. These systems are established through the use of the apparatus, as subjects can only exist within an apparatus.
    As Agamben states, “the term “apparatus” designates that in which, and through which, one realizes a pure activity of governance devoid of any foundation in being. This is the reason why apparatuses must always imply a process of subjectification, that is to say, they must produce their subject” (11). The notion of sex and value is not originated from the materialization of a body, but rather, the materialization of a body is marked by the apparatus in which it exists, which further dictates the interpellation of that body into subjecthood. Since the subjecthood of a body is controlled by the apparatus the meaning and purpose of that body is then categorized and entered into a system in which its value is marked and therefore it can be exchanged within that system. We can see how the value of certain bodies become evident within a system through Emilia Sanabria’s Plastic Bodies. In Brazil, women who follow medical protocol when it comes to reproductive health are considered “good” citizens. Those that do not follow protocol are marked as “bad” citizens. Both “good” and “bad” citizens are acknowledged as subjects within the ideology of Brazil’s health system, however their value is determined based on their compliance with the system. In this piece, Foucault’s concepts are shown in the real world. The markings of sex and value of blood, lineage and class, also further mark value and impact the treatment received by those within the healthcare system. Those marked as lower class are offered more permanent types of birth control. This can be interpreted as a method of population control, decreasing the number of lower class citizens or is can also be regarded as a way to reduce the stress that is put onto lower class families who can’t afford to adequately support their children and often struggle to get by. Additionally, this reduces the ultimate strain on taxpayers to support more bodies that cannot afford health care. Ultimately, this comes down to the ideology of the state and the ways in which it designates value to its subjects.


  8. Foucault writes about sexuality as a key technology through which power takes hold over subjects. One must pass through sex in order to “know themself”—or perhaps to know of themself as a self. Regulatory institutions (apparatuses) develop around this “passing through.” One example is the regime of reproductive health administration and distribution Sanabria writes about. Something in particular that grabbed my attention was the careful attention Sanabria pays to how the process of “passing through” this regime is both the movement/articulation of the individual body to the national body and how this movement is fractured along class and racial lines. Arguing that “social differentiations are re-embedded in biomedicine in Brazil… distinctions in treatment—both literal and symbolic—served to differentiate between ‘common citizens’ and ‘private individuals'” (151), Sanabria shows how the management of life among the urban poor and the middle classes works to reinscribe those lives as poor/rich and darker/whiter. The individual body meets/becomes the national body in its contact with the apparatus of reproductive health administration and distribution in Brazil which also works to reproduce inequality. One cannot become a national subject without also becoming poor/rich, white/black.

    Another thread I picked up on from the Sanabria was anxiety about the norm amongst richer Brazilians: “Placing oneself above cultural or legal norms—or differentiating oneself from lo normal—is thus central to being elevated out from the impersonal mass of individuals and acquiring what DaMatta calls ‘personhood'” (152). Foucault writes of the norm as the technology of power where (again) the individual body meets the national body. This would seem to be in an ambivalent relationship with another technology of power: identity. If we come to know ourselves as discreet selves, being part of the norm could be unsettling. We see this at work in Brazil where the higher social classes have access to private health insurance and the “personalizing tendencies” of “technical and biomedical interventions on middle-class bodies” (150). Distinction from the norm, and perhaps an individual identity itself (ambivalent about this point!), are reserved for the middle and upper classes while the poorer folks get the standardization of the state. It is interesting that in this model, those left to “the market” gain access to a differentiated self. Perhaps we can see this as part of the mythos of the “free market” that goes hand-in-hand with “the individual” wherein one gains access to their individuality through the “free market” and an individualized constellation of consumption habits.

    Also—just wondering if there is anything we could say is not part of an apparatus? Or if that question is “missing the point”?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s