Anthropologists have used Michel Foucault's thesis on biopolitics to critique modern institutions. Yet while useful, biopolitics is often misapplied. The arrests, killings of unarmed Blacks by police, COVID-19 racial health inequities, and the January 6 white nationalist act of sedition made visible fault lines between a biopolitical system set up to care for whites and a necropolitical system that treats Black bodies as expendable. By critiquing the facile overuse of biopolitics and biopower, this article also speaks to what COVID-19 uncovered within the academy.
Keywords: United States; biopolitics; necropolitics; pandemic; protests; race.
© American Anthropological Association 2021.