Biopolitical subjectification

  • Ott Puumeister Department of Semiotics University of Tartu Jakobi 2, 51005 Tartu
Keywords: biopolitics, dispositive, umwelt, subject, Jakob von Uexküll, Michel Foucault


The article proposes a semiotic interpretation of the concept of biopolitics. Instead of a politics that takes “life itself ” as its object and, as a result, separates life as an object from subjects, biopolitics is read as subjectification – a governmental rationality that constructs social ways of being and forms of life, that is, social subjectivities. The article articulates this position on the basis of two concepts: Jakob von Uexküll’s umwelt and Michel Foucault’s dispositive. While the former makes it possible to show that the process of life can be conceptualized as subjectification, the latter enables us to argue against an interpretation of biopolitics as a totalized structure of power intervening directly, without semiotic mediation, into “life itself ”.


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How to Cite
Puumeister, O. (2019). Biopolitical subjectification. Sign Systems Studies, 47(1/2), 105-125.