Interview with Jonathan Xavier Inda on Racial Prescriptions

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-09-01 00:40Z by Steven

Interview with Jonathan Xavier Inda on Racial Prescriptions

Theory, Culture & Society

Sibille Merz, Doctoral Researcher
Goldsmiths, University of London

Questioning Racial Prescriptions: An interview with Jonathan Xavier Inda

Sibille Merz: Racial Prescriptions provides a timely, illuminating and theoretically-engaged analysis of the making of BiDil, the first (and only) drug that was marketed exclusively to African Americans. Even though it has proven commercially unsuccessful, the drug has triggered a remarkable discussion, academic as well as activist, about the increasing geneticisation of race, the nature of racial health disparities in the US, and the re-articulation of racial politics under neoliberalism. What motivated you to write the book?

Jonathan Xavier Inda: One of my main concerns as a scholar has been to explore the exclusionary politics of race in the United States. For example, my first book, Targeting Immigrants: Government, Technology, and Ethics (2006), deals with racial politics of immigration. The major aim of this book is to situate the government of “illegal” immigration within what scholars have called advanced liberal modes of rule. These are forms of governance in which the political apparatus no longer appears obligated to safeguard the well-being of the population through maintaining a sphere of collective security. Instead, it becomes incumbent upon individuals to take upon themselves the primary responsibility for managing their own security and that of their families. Targeting Immigrants notes that while scholars have nicely analysed how advanced liberal governments work through promoting the self-managing capacities of individuals, they have paid scant attention to how such regimes also operate through practices of exclusion…

…Racial Prescriptions continues my examination of the politics of race in the United States. However, instead of dealing with the domain of immigration, it analyses the field of pharmaceutical production and marketing. The book is intended as a contribution to the rethinking of race and biopower in the genomic age. In The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault remarks that biopower designates “what brought life and its mechanisms into the realm of explicit calculations and made knowledge-power an agent of transformation of human life” (1980: 143). Biopower thus points to how political and other authorities have assigned themselves the duty of administering bodies and managing collective life. Building on Foucault’s work, scholars such as Paul Rabinow and Nikolas Rose (2006) have sought to rethink biopower for the 21st century by taking into account developments in the genetic and biological sciences. They suggest that new knowledges of life have fundamentally altered society’s capacity to engineer human vitality. Specifically, the molecularisation of life—that is, the understanding of life at the level of genes and molecules—has led to the envisioning of biological existence as a collection of intelligible vital elements that can be identified, isolated, controlled, mobilised, and reassembled. As such, life is no longer seen as natural or immutable destiny, but envisioned as inherently manipulable and re-formable. From this perspective, biopower today is about controlling and managing human biological processes in order to prevent disease, enhance health, and optimise the quality of individual and collective existence…

Read the entire interview here.

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