call for chapters: Inscribed on Flesh: Culture, Trauma, and the Reemergence of Biopower during Times of Pandemic

With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the crisis following to the increasing number of deaths, forced closures, exclusions and lockdowns, and the social, emotional economic aftermaths; the reemergence of the biopolitical argument is hardly surprising. In his last lecture “Society Must Be Defended,” (1975-1976), French philosopher Michel Foucault refers to biopolitical governmentality, which determines the differential exposure of human beings to health and social risks. According to Faucault’s historicized view of modernity, citizens are not subjects of law, but a biological entity to be controlled by means of epidemiological (biostatistical) surveillance. The emergence of biopolitics paved the way for fragmenting the biological continuum, in order to create hierarchies between different groups and, thus, differences in the way in which the latter were exposed to the risk of death. Racism became the “condition of acceptability” of such a differential exposure of lives in a society in which power is mainly exercised to protect the biological life of the population and enhance its productive capacity.

In multiple contexts from late 1800s to recent decades, biopower was used as a framework for analyzing authoritarian regimes and their use of torture, repression and violence to inscribe on flesh the projection of power as stated by Macias (2013). These means were employed systematically as part of social reorganization processes all over the world: from the military dictatorships in Latin America during the 1970s; the genocides and civil wars in Africa and Eastern Europe; to the Cold War aftermaths and the post-9/11 War on Terror.

From this perspective, in many political, hemispheric and geographic spheres, multiple layers of commemoration and oblivion should be considered while studying how traumas are inscribed on the body matter. The legacies of forced migrations, exiles, persecutions and exclusion, disappearances, annihilation and the repression of the public voice, interplay with the demands for justice and recognition on behalf of victims in multiple cultural, social and political terrains. Yet, how to remember, how to transmit a memory of the traumatic event without converting the trauma into a commodity or cliché? How to inscribe the victims’ silence and the horror through words, forms, sounds and shapes? Particularly at present, as uncertainty looms over and governmentality once more speaks in terms of state of exception (Agamben, 2020), one should reflect on the way in which old and new traumas interweave rapidly to expose new biopower manifestations of racism, exploitation, inequalities in the current pandemic (Butler, 2020).

            This volume proposes to explore the multiple expressions of memorization processes and recuperation of the public voice to narrate, recreate, exhibit, and shape trauma from a wide range of theoretical and disciplinary cultural perspectives such as art, literature, music, film and the performative arts.

We invite colleagues and independent researchers to send us a title and 150-word abstract in English by May 1, 2022, to Amalia Ran: and Moshe Morad,  

  Proposals should follow MLA style guidelines and include the following information: full name, academic affiliation, and contact details.

We look forward to your valuable contribution,

Best wishes,

Dr. Amalia Ran                                                                       Dr. Moshe Morad

Tel-Aviv University/Oranim College                                     Ono Academic College