Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy

Roberto Esposito, translated by Timothy Campbell
Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy

Malcolm Bull writes:

This is the paradox that lies at the root of the recent work of the Italian philosopher Roberto Esposito. In a sequence of books – Communitas (first published in 1998, and probably the best introduction to his ideas), Immunitas (2002) and now Bíos – Esposito has developed an account of modern politics in terms of immunity, where immunity is defined as the negation of community. The interpretation is derived from the linguist Emile Benveniste, who showed that, etymologically, ‘if munus is a gift carrying the obligation of an exchange, immunis is he who does not fulfil his obligation to make due return . . . Consequently communis does not mean “he who shares the duties” but really “he who has munia in common”.’ A community is therefore ‘a group of persons united by this bond of reciprocity’.

(LRB 1 January 2009)

Published by University of Minnesota Press
17 April 2008
ISBN: 9780816649907