Agamben's Theory of Biopower and Immigrants/Refugees/Asylum Seekers: Discourses of Citizenship and the Implications for Curriculum Theorizing

Michalinos Zembylas


In this essay I attempt to map the intersection between fearism and liberal/humanitarian discourses of citizenship and discuss the implications for curriculum theorizing.  Drawing on Agamben's analysis of biopower, this essay draws upon elements of Agamben's theory to highlight how liberal and humanitarian ideas to garner recognition on behalf of others risk perpetuating the logic of abandonment, which Agamben articulates in his theorization of bare life and the camp. Agamben's theory of biopower invokes a scrutinization of liberal and humanitarian perspectives in relation to issues of belonging, subjectivity, and inclusion/exclusion in citizenship education curricula. This interrogation suggests the need to form a different conceptual framework for citizenship education curricula"”one that recognizes the impact of fearism yet it moves beyond liberal and humanitarian discourses and provides opportunities for meaningful resistance to both fear and the disavowal of others.

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JCT: Journal of Curriculum Theorizing is an interdisciplinary journal of curriculum studies. It offers an academic forum for scholarly discussions of curriculum. Historically aligned with the "reconceptualist" movement in curriculum theorizing and oriented toward informing and affecting classroom practice, JCT presents compelling pieces within forms that challenge disciplinary, genre, and textual boundaries.

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