Writing Prompt: ‘the biopolitics of epidemic in the settler colonial nation’

Writing Prompt: ‘There is a hierarchy to care’

For the first writing prompt, I’m inviting you to reflect on our guiding theme for this unit: “the biopolitics of epidemic in the settler colonial nation”. Foucault’s theory of biopolitics suggests modern state power engages a politics of ‘life itself’, but also ignores death. Building on Foucault’s account of biopower, Ed Cohen argues the biomedical notion of ‘immunity’ conditions an understanding of the modern body as individual and isolated from its environment. Lee Maracle’s novel Ravensong (in its first 75 pages) comments on the place of epidemic within histories of colonial violence, and calls attention to what Stacey identifies as the ‘hierarchy of care’ separating the people of white town from her village.

How is Maracle’s novel theorizing the biopolitics of epidemic in the settler colonial nation? How does the novel meditate on death, illness, healing and community? How do these meditations allow us to reflect differently on Foucault and Cohen’s respective accounts of life, death and embodiment under biopower?

Your response need not provide an answer to all of these questions –feel free to explore the topics more generally. You can also choose a different topic, but you must analyse Ravensong with reference to our critical readings. Craft 1-2 paragraphs exploring your chosen topic with careful and considered reference to the text(s). You could explore an aspect of the novel and pose questions, or trace links between and across course readings, or make connections to current events, politics or history. The goal is to create a short and concise piece of writing that informs our ongoing class discussion.

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