chapter  18
23 Pages

Governing disorder: biopolitics and the molecularization of life

WithBRUCE BRAUN

In what ways can it be said of the molecularization of life that it has made our biological existence a political concern in new ways? Nikolas Rose (2001) gives us one answer.1 With advances in molecular biology, genetics and biochemistry, he argues, we have come to understand the body in terms of its genetic inheritance, with important implications for how we are governed, and the ways in which we govern ourselves (see also Novas and Rose 2000). Like his colleague Sarah Franklin, and the anthropologist Paul Rabinow (who uses slightly different terminology – biosociality – to understand similar practices of bodily self-regulation and management), Rose understands this to entail a shift within the biopolitical regimes of modernity, from political rationalities directed toward the management of risk at the level of populations, to the individual management of the genetic risks peculiar to one’s own body, or what he calls “ethopolitics.”2