The Biopolitics of Gender

Hardcover | October 20, 2015

byJemima Repo

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Michel Foucault identified sexuality as one of the defining biopolitical technologies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As Jemima Repo argues in this book, "gender" has come to be the major sexual signifier of the mid-twentieth and early twenty-first century. In fact, in thishistorical excavation of the biopolitical significance of the term, she argues that it could not have emerged at any other time. Repo shows that gender is not originally a feminist term, but emerged from the study of intersex and transsexual persons in the fields of sexology and psychology inthe1950s and 1960s. Prior to the 1950s gender was used to refer to various types of any number of phenomena - sometimes sex, but not necessarily. Its only regular usage was in linguistics, where it was used to classify nouns as masculine, feminine, or neuter. In the mid-twentieth century, gendershifted from being a nominator of types to designating the sexual order of things. As with sexuality in the Victorian period, over the last sixty years, the notion of gender has become an entire field of knowledge. Feminists famously took up the term in the 1970s to challenge biological determinism, and in government, "women" have been replaced by "gender" in policy-makingprocesses that aim to advance equality between women and men. Gender has also become a key variable in social scientific surveys of different socio-political phenomena like voting, representation, employment, salaries, and parental leave decisions. The Biopolitcs of Gender analyzes the strategies and tactics of power involved in the use of "gender" in sexology and psychology, and subsequently its reversal and counter-deployment by feminists in the 1970s and 1980s. It critiques the emergence of gender in demographic science and the implicationsof this genealogy for feminist theory and politics today. Drawing on an a wide variety of historical and contemporary sources, the book makes a major theoretical argument about gender as a historically specific apparatus of biopower and calls into question the emancipatory potential of the categoryin feminist theory and politics.

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From the Publisher

Michel Foucault identified sexuality as one of the defining biopolitical technologies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As Jemima Repo argues in this book, "gender" has come to be the major sexual signifier of the mid-twentieth and early twenty-first century. In fact, in thishistorical excavation of the biopolitical significan...

Jemima Repo is a Research Fellow at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and Birkbeck College, University of London.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:232 pages, 9.21 × 6.18 × 0.91 inPublished:October 20, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190256915

ISBN - 13:9780190256913

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. The Birth of Gender: Social Control, Hermaphroditism, and the New Postwar Sexual Apparatus2. The Sex/Gender Split, Transsexualism, and the Psychoanalytic Engineering of Capitalist Life3. Feminist Deployments of Gender4. The Demographic Problematization of Gender5. Gender Equality as Neoliberal Governmentality6. Feminism and Biopolitics: Complicities and Counter-MovementsNotesReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"In this groundbreaking reappraisal of both Foucault and feminism, Repo shows how gender became an apparatus for the regulation of life processes, and gender equality policy became embedded in governmental, bioeconomic projects to optimize population management. Such projects have, she argues,been fortified by feminism while also relying on disturbing differentiations between women's reproductive worth. Boldly arguing for a provisional suspension of 'all theories of gender,' The Biopolitics of Gender assesses the distribution of inequality constitutive of gender equality." --Penelope Lisa Deutscher, Professor of Philosophy, Northwestern University