Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Foucauldian Biopower in Contemporary Anglo-American Theater: Margaret Edson and Nell Dunn

Marta Fernández Morales


French philosopher Michel Foucault’s theories of biopower as presented in The Birth of the Clinic (1963) and other works appear as extremely relevant today. In a moment when debates about euthanasia, palliative care and the limits of medical research are opened and alive in many developed countries, Foucault’s analyses of the modern clinic, the use of medical discourse as a site of power, and hospital technologies understood as tools of surveillance and control can be introduced into the social dialogue. In their theater, contemporary playwrights like American Margaret Edson and British Nell Dunn use different dramatic techniques to stage illness (especially women’s terminal illness) and the hospital setting, in an effort to raise consciousness about the necessity of a humane treatment of the sick, the right to decide over one’s pain, life or death, and the difficulties of the medical profession in the face of real people’s suffering and dying.

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