The psychic life of biopolitics: Survival, cooperation, and Inuit community



What does it mean for Inuit to cooperate with the (disavowed) desires that emerge in a colonial bureaucracy dedicated to improving Inuit lives? In this article, I consider the psychic life of biopolitics in the context of welfare colonialism in the Canadian Arctic. I suggest that the colonial desire that Inuit cooperate in their own survival is haunted by other desires the colonist can never name and that such unspeakable desires are also at work in the response to the contemporary suicide epidemic among Inuit youth. Attention to Inuit naming practices provides an alternate way of linking death, desire, and community in a postcolonial world.