Family Values to Family Debilitation

Migrant Child Detention and the Aesthetics of Neoliberal Authoritarianism with Associate Professor Claire Blencowe

  • Thu 30 Jan 20

    16:00 - 18:00

  • Colchester Campus


  • Event speaker

    Associate Professor Claire Blencowe

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars

  • Event organiser

    Sociology, Department of

  • Contact details

    Professor Linsey McGoey

Join the Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation and Centre for Ideology and Discourse Analysis (cIDA) for an insightful open seminar with Associate Professor Claire Blencowe.

Claire Blencowe is Associate Professor of Sociology, and co-Director of the Social Theory Centre, at the University of Warwick. Her first book in 2012 was Biopolitical Experience: Foucault, Power and Positive Critique. Subsequent work has centred on the theme of theorising authority-production – including critical exploration of the role of biopolitics in the production of neoliberal authority as well as more hopeful explorations of alternative authority production, including collaborative work on participatory democracy, knowledge politics and healing with the Authority Research Network. Current work (in both critical and hopeful directions) circles around the role of religion in neoliberalism and the new/old authoritarianism – linking biopolitical presents to the ongoing colonial history.  

The first widely reported act of the newly elected Johnson government was to remove the UK government commitments to continuing the programme of refugee children family reunification in post Brexit Britain. The most notorious act of the Trump administration has been the ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy, separating migrant children from their families and the incarcerating them at the US/Mexico border. Both of these moves encourage and enact the abuse of migrant children and their families. Both are highly spectacular and can be read as a part of the strategic aesthetic through which these regimes attempt to produce authority. This paper takes migrant child detention as an image through which to refract the spectacle of neoliberal authoritarianism. That image highlights the role of the normative family in the political economy of neoliberalism. Alongside this, flashes the memory of the role of family separation and child detention in the ongoing history of dispossession and the colonial project of ‘civilisation’. Our understanding of neoliberal authority production shifts from the life-productivity of biopolitical-normalisation and family values toward family separation as an authority-producing strategy of debilitation. 

This seminar is part of an open seminar series, hosted by the Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation and Centre for Ideology and Discourse Analysis (cIDA).

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