Biopolitics and the Emergence

Sven-Olov Wallenstein

A part of the FORuM Project Publication series published in association with the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University, this book introduces Michel Foucault’s work on bio-politics to an architectural audience. It explores Foucault’s conception of bio-politics in order to analyse the emergence of modern architectural theory at the end of the 18th century. His views on power are used to understand how architectural concepts and practices come to structure life and how they work to shape the modern individual. A horrifyingly beautiful example of this is the concept of the panopticon: a circular prison designed in 1785 which allows a prison guard or other observe to see all prisoners without the prisoners being able to tell whether they are being watched; in other words, a centralised policing system. The concept of biopolitics is increasingly important in cultural/literary studies as taken up by other thinkers such as Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt in their best selling books Empire and Multitudes. This book is also being published on the heels of the release of the first English translation of Foucault’s The Birth of Biopolitics (release date June 10, 2008, Palgrave Macmillan), based on Foucault’s course taught at the Collège de France in 1978–1979 and continuing some of the concepts of identity explored in The History of Sexuality and which should be of great interest to scholarly architectural thinkers. The book uses the structure and institution of the hospital as a case study for familiarising the concept to the architect/architecture student.

Creator Bio

Sven-Olov Wallenstein teaches philosophy at the University College of S?dert?rn and architectural theory at the Royal Institute of Technology, both in Stockholm. He is the editor-in-chief of SITE (, the author of several books and essays on contemporary art, philosophy and aesthetics as well as the translator of works by Kant, Frege, Husserl, Heidegger, Levians, Derrida and Deleuze. A brilliant and eloquent intellectual whose recent books Image Wars: Lecutres on Aesthetic Theory, 2001, The Last Image: Crisis and Transformations of Modern Painting, 2001 and The Philosophies of Modern Architecture, 2004. As well as Swedish translations of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgement (2003) and Gilles Deleuze’s, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque (2004).

Price £13.99
Format Paperback / softback
Publication Date 1 November 2012
Pages 96
Height 216mm
Width 143mm
Illustrations 20 colour and 60 black & white images
ISBN-13 9781616891114