David Lea
Pages 17-29
DOI: 10.5840/cultura20151212


The events of 9/11 have underlined the relevance of the thought of Georgio Agamben in so far as he attempts to explain the genesis of an authoritarianism that increasingly implements extraordinary measures and enhanced surveillance. This can be understood in terms of the expansion of a biopolitical regime. Biometric analysis: finger printing, iris and retina scans etc., are to be understood in their relation to the individual as bare life, the individual stripped of his/her political legal identity and thus identified without reference to the latter. The camp, according to Agamben, is said to be the ultimate space, a lawless zone, where questions of legality and illegality become irrelevant. However, this paper argues that Agamben fails to underline the importance of the Cartesian legacy that initiated a form of conceptualization in which the ordering of reality replaced qualitative distinctions with mathematical quantification. Biometric analysis, which relies heavily on mathematized quantification of biological features, is integral to the biopolitical regime, as described by Michel Foucault and Agamben. This paper argues that a rejection of this Cartesian inheritance is necessary if we are to overcome insidious forms of control based on surveillance, biometric identification or even managerial oversight through supposedly quantifiable metrics of performance.