Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mignolo on Bare Life

The PIC Conference went incredibly well, and hopefully I will talk about it in more detail in a future post.

However, I wanted to share an insight that I thought was certainly provocative, and probably correct. Walter Mignolo was the keynote, and during the the Q&A of his talk, he explained that there was a difference between the decolonial conception of disposable life (poblaciĆ³n chatarra) and the Agamben notion of bare life. Specifically, bare life is a legal concept, and comes particularly from the crisis of the nazi concentration camps, while disposable life is an economic concept that comes from the transatlantic slave trade. If you were an enslaved person in the middle passage, and you got sick, you were simply thrown over board.

I think that is an interesting, and even useful, distinction.