Between Life and Death: Bio-Politics and Migration in the 21st Century

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This course aims at introducing students to the concept of bio-politics, its origins and its modern forms in national and increasingly global perspectives. We want to discuss the notion of population, its governmentality and the politics of “life” – regulation and distribution of forms of life - in contexts of violence and crisis, war and peace drawing on examples from German and European policies to international regimes of conflict intervention, from current changes in regulations on migration and asylum to intended and unintended side effects of humanitarian aid. Using some of the theoretical groundwork from social theorists as Michael Foucault we will delineate the interrelation between power techniques and new forms of knowledge to uncover the hidden matrix of socio-economic and political space. By doing so, throughout the course tensions and conflicts between the governance of population and modern human rights regimes will be our focus.  The course offers an interdisciplinary approach. It attempts to incorporate field trips, films, exhibitions, and art on the topic into the discussion. Our focus will be on current issues of exclusion, migration policies in Germany and Europe.