The ban and the biopolitical order of the 'global city'

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Nador u. 9, Faculty Tower
Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 3:30pm
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Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 3:30pm to 5:10pm

Triggered and reinforced by processes of reterritorialization that the competition for globalized capital entails, ‘global cities’ apparently drive urbanization to its limits. As major agents and the prime spaces of fostering the proper environment of biopolitical circulation, they effectively emerge as “Republics” that produce citizens (Samaddar 2011). Accordingly, crystallized, for instance, in radically recasting access to basic infrastructure, neoliberal urban governance manifests the extreme biopoliticization of citizenship. In oscillating between the decision on the ban from the city (Agamben 1998) and the equally ancient technologies of the politics of dispersal (Rancière 1995), in realms irredeemable for the ‘world class’, neoliberalism operates through the refusal of care and thus virtually turns biopolitics on its head. With struggles for a dignified place in the city emerging worldwide, on the one hand, and with development reconstructed as the imperative to be resilient in the face of the threats to a life unsecured, on the other (Reid 2011), we are urged to rethink the relations between the city, resistance, and life’s demand to be cared for. Approaching this problematique from the perspective of the political practice of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the largest South African shack dwellers’ movement, the paper ponders the potentials of struggles that call into question the lethal rationalities of contemporary urban governance. Through what could be understood as the Abahlali’s demands to be integrated into the biopolitical order – or to be integrated into it otherwise – it thus assesses the stakes of the defiant repoliticization of survival.