May 25, 2024  
College Catalog 2022-2023 
College Catalog 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

RELI 278 - Marx, Religion, and Biopolitical Race

Cross-Listed as GERM 278 MCST 278 , and POLI 278  
All readings and class taught in English; no pre-knowledge required. In this course we shall examine the relation of religion to both capital and the modern forms of political power (what Michel Foucault termed biopolitics or biopower), as well as the biopolitical formations of race and racism as means for sustaining power-while discovering the enduring pertinence of Marx’s work in theorizing the above issues. Biopower emerges gradually in secular capitalist modernity as a form of power that legitimizes itself not through its right to “take life” (as in traditional forms of sovereignty) but through its obligation to protect and enhance life. Yet, albeit “secular,” biopower is a form of “pastoral power” (Foucault). We shall explore: the interconnectedness of modern biopower and religion; Marx’s critique of the dominant (Enlightenment) critique of religion and his thesis that the secular state presupposes religion; the colonial and racial constructions of religion; racial capitalism; and the biopolitical constructions of race in its relation to social class and other forms of domination.  Offered occasionally. (4 Credits)