chapter  6
17 Pages

Up the River (from Home): Where Does the Prisoner ‘Count’ on Census Day?

This chapter offers an analysis of hunger strikes by detained asylum seekers compared with Foucault's writings on governmentality. It outlines scholarship that draws upon and sometimes critiques Agamben's conception of bare life to account for hunger strikes. The chapter presents an account of recent media interest in hunger strikes among asylum seekers. It discusses scholarly attention to hunger strikes, paying particular attention to how these actions are accounted for and how they are sometimes cast as manifestations of heroic resistance by asylum seekers. The chapter highlights how much of this work draws on and seeks to extend Agamben's work in an effort to retake 'bare life'. It argues that hunger strikes by detained asylum seekers enact counter-conducts and critical attitudes. The chapter shows that counter-conducts, hunger strikes involve desubjugation, and through this process hungering for freedom becomes a political and potentially transformative practice.