Annual Symposium – Biopolitics and Democracy in Global Governance


Annual Symposium

20 September 2017

Unioninkatu 37, Seminar Room 1

The Academy project ‘Biopolitics and Democracy in Global Governance’ addresses the relationship between the two logics at work in contemporary global governance, democracy and biopolitics. Since the end of the Cold War, democracy has become the fundamental principle of global governance. Governance policies at such diverse sites as health care, development and environmental protection are both legitimized and contested in terms of democratic principles of participation, equality and accountability. At the same time, contemporary studies of global governance increasingly highlight its biopolitical character, oriented towards the positive management of the vital processes of the population. These two logics clearly follow different rationalities, the universalist and egalitarian aspirations of democracy contrasting with particularistic and quasi-naturalist presuppositions of biopolitics. While the problematic character of their combination has been noted by political theorists, it has barely been addressed in empirical studies. The project aims at filling this gap by inquiring into the relation between democracy and biopolitics as rationalities of governance. The symposium addresses this question both on the historico-philosophical level in the genealogy of the two rationalities in the Western politico-philosophical tradition and on the empirical level through the analysis of the interplay between democracy and biopolitics at specific sites of governance.

The symposium will feature a keynote presentation from one of the international partners of the project, Dr Catherine Mills (Monash University). Dr Mills is an Associate Professor in the Monash Bioethics Centre and current recipient of an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship. She is the author of three books, most recently Biopolitics (Routledge, 2017).

The symposium is funded by the Academy of Finland.


15:00-16:00: Catherine Mills (Monash University): Presentation of Biopolitics (Routledge, 2017)

16:00-16:20: Sergei Prozorov (University of Helsinki): The Possibility of Democratic Biopolitics

16:20-16:40: Lauri Siisiainen (University of Helsinki): Foucault, Biopolitics and Resistance

16:40-17:00: Marco Piasentier (University of Kent): Biopolitics between Language and Life

17:00-17:20: Jaakko Ailio (University of Tampere): Affirmative Biopolitics in Practice

17:20-17:40: Cai Weaver (University of Helsinki): The Biopolitics of Anti-Gay Legislation in Russia

17:40-18:00: Concluding discussion