This conversation with Michelle Murphy is divided into two parts:
BIOPOLITICAL FEMINISM: The first part introduces Foucault’s concept of biopolitics and applies it to forms of economization of life particularly in relation to female bodies. Paraphrasing Foucault, Michelle affirms that governmental capitalism needs for “some must not to be born so that future others will live more consumptibly, productively in the logic of macro-economy .” She thus unfolds the political history of regulation and ‘marketing’ of reproduction and contraception that organizes such an economization of life at a scale of a population. Further, we discuss of Michelle’s concept, “The Girl” as the problematic current vessel of financial investment in the context of imperial humanitarianism.
CHEMICAL INFRASTRUCTURES: The second part considers the body as topological, blurring the limits between inside and outside and, following Peter Sloterdijk think of it as a “being-in-the-breathable.” Michelle has been working on the elaboration of the concept of “chemical infrastructures” to think of our era as the Anthropocene: a time when all atmospheres are fundamentally manufactured (deliberately or not) by human activity. Following Spinoza and his approach of the Genesis’s apple, we talk of our ignorance, as humans, of what ecologies really are, and how we can start thinking of them as ethical systems rather than moralistic ones.
Michelle Murphy is a Professor in the History Department and Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, with graduate appointments in Science and Technology Studies at York University and the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at U of T. She is an organizer of the Toronto Technoscience Salon. I am also coordinator of the Technoscience Research Unit. She is the author of Seizing the Means of Reproduction: Entanglements of Feminism, Health, and Technoscience (Duke UP, 2012) and Sick Building Syndrome and the Problem of Uncertainty: Environmental Politics, Technoscience, and Women Workers (Duke UP, 2006), as well as the co-editor of Landscapes of Exposure: Knowledge and Exposure in Modern Environments, Osiris v. 19 (University of Chicago Press, 2004).