Julian Honkasalo’s Superfluous Lives - An Arendtian Critique of Biopolitics is the first monograph length study to examine the political thinking of Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) as a critical response to the modern rise of biopolitics. Taking the previously undertheorized notion of superfluity as a key category for navigating and reinterpreting Arendt’s conceptual, ethical, and political distinctions, the study brings a novel analytical layer to Arendt scholarship. The study elevates the second book of The Origins of Totalitarianism as the central text for deciphering Arendt’s sophisticated critique of ideological racism and European nationalism. Through an examination of Arendt’s notion of modern politics as the faceless, bureaucratic administration of “life for the sake of life itself,” the study establishes Arendt as a precursor to both Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben. Taking On Revolution as a point of reference for theorizing counter-discourses to biopolitics, the dissertation demonstrates that Foucault’s and Agamben’s accounts of resistance are only partially successful. As a critical counterpart to biopolitics, the study works through Arendt’s concept of the conscious pariah and her ideal of revolutionary spontaneity as her most important contributions to the theorization of radical political freedom.
Julian Honkasalo is currently affiliated with the University of Helsinki, gender studies. Honkasalo received a PhD in gender studies (university of Helsinki) in 2016 and graduated from the New School for Social Research with a PhD degree in political science in 2018. Honkasalo’s current, postdoctoral research project Unfit for Citizenship: Eugenics and the Pathologization of Gender Nonconformity advances and reconstructs earlier scholarly literature on 20th century eugenic discourses by examining gender reassignment related sterilization legislation in Scandinavian countries from a queer-theoretical and historical perspective. The research project is funded by the Kone Foundation. Honkasalo’s interests include biopolitics, social and political constructions of the fit and able-bodied citizen, dynamics of racialization, transgender social justice and theorization of resistance. Honkasalo’s research approach and interests are multidisciplinary and stem from personal interests in human rights activism.