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INFO Unltd with Elizabeth Povinelli and Ana Guzmán

24 April 2019

“The division of biology and geology or non life and life is not merely a division that is artificial it is a division that is dangerous.”

Elizabeth Povinelli

Today on the show we do things a little differently. Rather than conducting an interview, I will introduce a conversation author, film marker and professor of anthropology at Columbia University, Elizabeth Povinelli accompanied by Ana Guzmán who is a research fellow and co-curator at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin.

Povinelli is know for tracing the foundations of power and hierarchy of late liberalism beyond biopower. Biopower, and biopolitics, was most famously written about by french philosopher, Michel Foucault and has been approached by many others. In The History of Sexuality Vol. 1, Foucault describes biopower as “an explosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies and the control of populations.” In other words, biopower gives a vocabulary for understanding how a governing body exerts control and establishes hierarchy through the regulation of life processes. 

In Povinelli’s 2016 book Geontologies: A Requiem of Late Liberalism, she pushes the taxonomy and delineations of power, challenging the very frame of Biopower. Geontological Power, or Geontopower, refers to the hierarchy of power within late liberal society as determined by what is called life and non-life. In this frame, for example, the distinction between biology and geology serves as mechanism to exclude indigenous peoples from the practices participation of western society and as justification for colonialism. 

In addition, Povinelli will discuss her work with the Karrabing Film Collective. A collective of Indigenous Karrabing film makers from Norther Australia. The collective has revived multiple international awards has participated in exhibitions at the Sydney Biennale, the Tate Modern in London, Documenta-14, and currently, MoMA, PS1 in New York through May 27.

This conversation is a part of a series of interviews on Info Unltd produced in anticipation of Life Forms, the final event in the Technosphere project, an extended examination and inquiry into the identity and dilemma of global technology.

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