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Abstract

This paper brings together Foucauldian approaches to biopolitics and recent developments in climate change and disaster studies on vulnerability, adaptation, and resilience to develop a biopolitics of adaptation. I approach climate change impact assessments, vulnerability approaches, and resilience approaches as distinct systems of knowledge with biopolitical effects. This means that each renders life amenable to governmental intervention and control through specific sets of techniques and rationalities that produce “truths” about emergent life and how to secure this life. A biopolitical reading offers a critical alternative to conventional narratives of these fields' development, which suggest that the emergence of vulnerability and resilience approaches provide progressively more complex accounts of risk that shine new light on the “vulnerability puzzle.” In contrast, this review suggests that the emergence of vulnerability and resilience approaches allow researchers and practitioners to target increasingly intimate levels of socio-ecological life, the affective relations between people and their environments. In drawing attention to the often under-acknowledged politics of life at play in climate change and disaster studies, this review seeks to highlight possibilities for a subversive and affirmative biopolitics of adaptation that transgresses rather than sustains existing political ecological order.