Anthropological Machines, Biopolitics, Production and Genealogy of (bare) Life

fundamental research project
Basic Info


The research will carry out a detailed philosophical analysis of the concept of life as elaborated by different branches of contemporary anthropology. It will focus upon the process of production of life, taking for its staring point the anthropological machine as paradigm of contemporary conceptions of life. Drawing on the concept of biopolitics it will try to trace more precise limits of transformations of life in contemporary anthropology and political philosophy.
Presented and analysed will be the philosophical history of notions of human being and of life, two crucial notions in the lately predominant conception of history as history of becoming-human. The research will not be limited only to philosophy, but will also include some of the key anthropological concepts. The reason for this is that philosophy and anthropology are both responsible for the establishing of anthropogenesis – a process that considers all life from the perspective of becoming-human. Apart from Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze, it was Giorgio Agamben who contributed most to the contemporary critical evaluation of anthropogenesis and biopolitics. Most relevant for our research is his thesis according to which there are two types or two modes of life that states promote in the era of globalisation: the modal life and the bare life. The first type, the modal life, is identified with the notion of life as existing in western democratic, consumerist societies; the life-style it implies could be defined as the life-that-chooses. The other type, the bare life as bare ground of life, is in itself split in two: on the one hand, it is the fundament of sovereignty of all contemporary states, regardless of their “development” or their level of democracy; on the other hand it is embodied, above all, in the underdeveloped societies or societies in the process of democratisation.
The research of the genealogy of the concept of life in the western tradition of thought will start from the following thesis: in western democratic societies life appears as that which is impossible to define. This impossibility of an exact determination of life has, as a consequence, a never-ending process of splitting and (sub-)dividing of the notion of life itself. In our research we will confront two genealogies of the concept of life: the official, predominant one, dictating cultural, political and ethical standards of contemporary societies, and another genealogy of the concept life, revealing what is repressed, neglected, ignored in the first genealogy, or excluded from it.

Basic research project "Anthropological Machines, Biopolitics, Production and Genealogy of (bare) Life" is founded by Slovenian Research Agency.