Penelope Deutscher’s lecture considers the role played by time in modern analyses of differentially disposable life: its complex priors, presents, and futures. She explores a related preference for understanding political violence not just at the level of the catastrophic, sudden, and spectacular, but as enfolded in the everyday of ordinary life.Her analysis then probes how such claims can reconfigure the modern understanding of the sexual contract.
Post-Foucauldian biopolitical theory counts among the capacities of life's administration the ability to retroactively transform the status of life, the production of deaths said no longer to count as murders, and forms of living death. Such analyses have, however, also met with criticism. Do they fail to describe the prior or framing conditions under which certain human lives are more vulnerable than others to becoming disposable life? Engaging in this debate, Achille Mbembe, Veena Das, and Judith Butler are among those who have considered the anteriority and after-life of slavery, the plantation, colonialism, and the sexual contract.