Biopower: Hygiene, Eugenics, Genetics, and Iran’s Double Demographic Problem

Cyrus Schayegh

in Who Is Knowledgeable Is Strong

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780520254473
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943544 | DOI:
Biopower: Hygiene, Eugenics, Genetics, and Iran’s Double Demographic Problem

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The Iranian semi-colonial version of biopower combined basic features with other colonial as well as Western models, on which it drew in the first place. Reproduction came to be seen as, not simply a personal, but a social and national concern; the reproductive body, formerly understood as natural, was reinterpreted as social. Foucault's concept of biopower helps shed light on the fact that population quantity and quality were identified as key, socially relevant reasons for individuals' restraint. Moreover, biopower was not one-dimensional just as in Western countries, where state and bourgeois class interest in demographic control was grounded in a shifting network of economic, social, gender-related, and racial contexts, so in Iran, too. Economic reasons were crucial, but class, professional, and state interests, and modern rearticulations of patriarchal male guardianship were at work as well.

Keywords: biopower; colonial; Foucault; reproduction; rearticulations

Chapter.  21395 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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