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Population and Affective Perception: Biopolitics and Anticipatory Action in US Counterinsurgency Doctrine



Abstract:  This paper analyses the biopolitical logics of current US counterinsurgency doctrine in the context of the multiple forms of biopower that make up the “war on terror”. It argues that counterinsurgency doctrine aims to prevent spectral networked insurgencies by intervening on the “environment” of insurgent formation—the relations between three different enactments of “population” (species being, logistical life and ways of life) and a fourth—affectively imbued perception. Counterinsurgency is best characterised, then, as an “environmentality” (Foucault M 2008 The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collége De France, 1978–1979. Translated by G Burchell. London: Palgrave Macmillan) that redeploys elements from other forms of biopolitics alongside an emphasis on network topologies, future-orientated action and affective perception.