Biopolitics and the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Foucauldian Interpretation of the Danish Government’s Response to the Pandemic

Philosophies 7 (2):34 (2022)
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With the coronavirus pandemic and the Omicron variant once again forcing countries into lockdown, this essay seeks to outline a Foucauldian critique of various legal measures taken by the Danish government to cope with COVID-19 during the first year and a half of the pandemic. The essay takes a critical look at the extra-legal measures employed by the Danish government, as the Danish politicians attempted to halt the spread of the, now almost forgotten, Cluster 5 COVID-19 variant. This situation will serve as a critical point from where to start using Foucault’s writings on life and biopolitics in order to expose various legally problematic governmental decisions that became visible during the handling of COVID-19 in general and the Cluster 5 mutation in particular. Reframing the pandemic within Foucault’s concept of biopolitics, this essay concludes that the state of exception has led to an increase in biopolitical logic, where some lives have come to matter more than others. As a critical counterpoint to this logic, the conclusion suggests that the notion of biocommunism could provide a suitable reconfiguration of communism. A reconfiguration that could mitigate some of the issues related to biopolitics is uncovered earlier in the essay.

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Philip Højme (Hoejme)
Polish Academy of Sciences (PhD)


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