Biopower in Putin’s Russia From Taking Care to Taking Lives

Andrey Makarychev

In this book, Makarychev and Medvedev examine the importance of biopolitics in fueling Russia’s confrontation with the West. In their view, the development of Putin’s illiberal authoritarianism was largely triggered by what they call a biopolitical turn. This shift is exemplified by the use of an increasing number of regulatory mechanisms to discipline and constrain the human body. Such political practices concern issues of sexuality, reproductive behavior, adoption, fertility, family planning, public hygiene, and demography. This turn created a new disciplinary framework for the population and the elite. Bans and restrictions of a biopolitical nature, became one of the main tools for articulating the rules of belonging in the political community and drawing its political boundaries. Biopolitical discourses have taken up the core of the Russian identity formation, which contrasts a positive “conservative Russia” with a supposedly vicious “liberal West.”

The presentation of the political genealogy of the body-centric structures of power and hegemony in Russia implies their transformation from bio- to necropolitics. Necropolitical (repressive and life-depriving) components are inscribed in the biopolitical regimes of power: they form the core of Putin’s rule over Russia and are a key factor behind the war against Ukraine.


Author: Aisseco

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