About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

21 Whitehead J. Dipl. & Int'l Rel. 62 (2019-2020)
Human Right - Which Human; What Rights? Biopolitics and Bare Life in Migration and COVID-19

handle is hein.journals/whith21 and id is 162 raw text is: 


Randolph   B. Persaud, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, School of International Service, American University

Jackson  Yoder
B.A. in International Studies, School of International Service, American

Abstract: This article argues that human rights are outcomes of relations of power. Invariably,
the privilege of enjoying state protected rights are at the expense of vulnerable and marginalized
populations. We apply the concepts of homo sacer and bare life to interrogate differential rights
in the Europe and the United Sates with specificfocus on two issue areas - migrants/refugees!
asylum seekers, and the effects of Covid-19 on African Americans.


T   his paper argues that what are generally known as human rights are really
    relational forms of power where some must be denied rights for others to
have them. Human   rights go beyond juridical rights; rather, they are one of the
conditions of emergence and reproduction of state sovereignty, where the denial
and  guarantee of rights are not disconnected instances, but are outcomes of
different constellations of social forces within a social formation. In what follows we
draw on the work of Michel Foucault1 and Giorgio Agamben2 both of whom have
broached the reduction of the human to 'bare life' (zoe) in order to make possible
life as bios, which is life within a political community where rights are granted
and protected. We show that there are relations of antagonism between zoe and
bios and that these relations are an essential part of life in liberal democracies. Zoe
amounts to the reduction of the human to a position of overdetermined insecurity,
while bios is constituted in the language and symbols of the dominant social forces.
Accordingly, we argue that unless the human in toto becomes the referent object
of security, liberal democracies and other forms of socio-economic and political
configurations will not be able to establish rights as a generalized condition. We
look at recent and current developments in European and American  security
policies and practices, with emphasis on migrants who come from marginalized
populations. We also analyze current developments around COVID-19, not only
because the pandemic has revealed the unevenness in human rights, but because
it is indicative of the idiom of the bare life thesis-that some must die for others
to live. One must recall that as the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc, Texas

Vol XXI, No.2 Spring/Summer  2020

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing thousands of academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline.

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most