NECROPOLITICS VERSUS BIOPOLITICS: Spatialization, White Privilege, and Visibility during a Pandemic

Cult Anthropol. 2021 Aug;36(3):360-367. doi: 10.14506/ca36.3.03. Epub 2021 Aug 26.


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.