Capitalization of the Body: Contemporary Entanglements of Race and Biopolitics. NEMLA 2022 Baltimore (accepted) Panel

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Robert L. Berger
contact email: 


This panel is organized to discuss the entangled concepts of race, biopolitics and capitalization as they have functioned in the Transatlantic colonial period, during America's national history and in the present day. Following the work of Achille Mbembe in Necropolitics and Alexander Weheliye in Habeas Viscus, it is clear that if an accurate understanding of Power’s relationship with the subject can be articulated, it must account for the centuries long process of capitalizing and destroying the Black body. Examining the West’s exit from democracy, the quantification of human life both in its real world existence and digital presence is directly preceded by the practices of slave traders and owners who via intense and cruel means of surveillance determined the transaction price of human lives and reduced the human being from being itself into an mass of “flesh” that could be sold, used up, annihilated and kill for the convenience of profit. From this insight comes the reality that the Black body as it has been constructed by the West, is in many ways the central subject of its discourse. It is the Black body’s treatment which anticipates the schema of Power/subject relationship that all of humanity is hurtling towards, one in which humanity is reduced to bio-data and mere flesh and made available to both state and non-state entities for capitalist exploitation.

Panel Description and Submission Information:

This panel seeks papers exploring the relationship between capitalization, race, and biopolitics throughout the Transatlantic colonial period and in the unfolding of American history up to the present day. Theoretical touchstones for the panel are Mbembe's Necropolitics and Weheliye's Habeas Viscus, although related and adjacent discourses are most welcome.

Please submit all proposals via the NEMLA portal include a 300 word Abstract and a brief bio for the purposes of introduction at the session. Proposals maybe submitted June 15th-September 30th, 2021. Session Number: 19393

Contact Information: 

Dr. Robert L. Berger