In The Birth of the Clinic (1963), Michel Foucault suggested that for each model of power there was a healthy body and a diseased body, a specific way of organising sexuality and reproduction, a spatialization of differences in the city and a utopian ideal of national immunity. What would the model of somatopolitical administration be in the case of contemporary neoliberal societies?
On the one hand, the techniques of appropriation and slavery, the management of syphilis and the pathologization of insanity and homosexuality – characteristics of the 18th and 19th century – have been displaced by new techniques for the management of migration, of the seropositive body and also by the pathologization and media's production of disability, autism, obesity, infertility, intersexuality and transexuality. Heterosexuality as the naturalized and politically-legitimised procreation technique has given way to the commercialisation of technofluids and genetic material. The figure of the indebted body, as Maurizio Lazzarato has written, emerges from the neoliberal condition.
Feminist and homosexual politics of the 1970s were characterised by their efforts to understand what Foucault called “the birth of the clinic,” in an attempt to dismantle its disciplinary institutions: the family, the school, the hospital, the prison or the factory.
However, the political context has changed radically: the new neoliberal condition, the economy of debt and the cutbacks in social services portend an untimely death for the clinic. Paradoxically, this collapse of the disciplinary institutions forebode a strange process of privatisation and transformation of the clinic into a pharmacopornographic industry.
How are we to understand this displacement? What are the new forms of activism and the critical languages capable of responding to it? This lecture examines this situation and inaugurates the public activities of Somatheque 2013, and will be followed with interventions by Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stephens.
Beatriz Preciado is a philosopher and activist. She has published Manifiesto Contra-Sexual (Balland, 2000), Testo Yonqui (Espasa Calpe, 2008), Terror Anal (epilogue to El Deseo Homosexual by Guy Hocquenghem, Melusina, 2009) and Pornotopía. Arquitectura y Sexualidad en Playboy durante la Guerra Fría (Anagrama, 2010). She teaches political history of the body and queer theory in the Critical Practices Program at Museo Reina Sofía and in MACBA's Independent Studies Program, and also at University of Paris VIII.