Nomadic life: war, sovereignty, and resistance to the biopolitical imperium

Julian Reid

in The Biopolitics of the War on Terror

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2006 | ISBN: 9780719074059
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701676 | DOI:
Nomadic life: war, sovereignty, and resistance to the biopolitical imperium

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This chapter argues that it is a mistake to construe the War on Terror, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that have followed it, and the broader reassertion of American military and strategic power globally, in the simplistic terms of the ‘return’ of a state-fermented form of imperialism. For sure, the 2001 attack on the World Trade Centre did initiate some changes in the organisation of power internationally, but it did not forge a regression. Central to the argument is the continuing and essential role of biopolitical forms of discourse and agency in the twenty-first century. In essence, while the reassertion of the military power of this one particular state, the United States, ought to make us aware of the continuing importance of traditional forms of sovereign power, it remains as, if not more, necessary, to concentrate on the imperial function of biopolitics here in the post-9/11 era. If we want to understand how it is that the United States is able to wage war in the terms that it is doing today, to reassert its capacities as a sovereign state, it is necessary to focus upon the roles of non-state biopolitical forms of agency in constituting and legitimising such violence. Bereft of its biopolitical context, such violence would be meaningless and impossible to sustain. In this sense it is the biopolitical which is the constitutive force within the imperial machine which we see today expanding and intensifying its controls over life globally.

Keywords: War on Terror; United States; imperialism; biopolitics; military power

Chapter.  10930 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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