This article discusses Giorgio Agamben's work on “bare life,” or life with no political meaning. It argues that there is a critical absence in Agamben's work when it comes to women and gender, and it examines how the reproductive body complicates his concept of bare life and its corresponding figure, homo sacer, or sacred man. It does so through a discussion of Alfonso Cuarón's 2006 film Children of Men, looking at how the film's story line—an infertile world in which one refugee, Kee, is found to be pregnant—links pregnancy to political systems that regulate who gets counted as worthy of state protection. Agamben argues that it is possible to be physically alive but politically abandoned, and this is clearly the position Kee occupies as a refugee or “illegal” immigrant in the film. However, she gains political agency through the protection already afforded her fetus. Therefore, the film also shows us how it is possible to be politically protected but not yet physically alive through its focus on the status of the unborn child. Kee's body becomes the battleground for these two opposing forces as the film offers a critique of the politics of migration at the same time as it fetishizes the future child.
Research Article|September 01 2011
Heather Latimer; Bio-Reproductive Futurism: Bare Life and the Pregnant Refugee in Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men. Social Text 1 September 2011; 29 (3 (108)): 51–72. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-1299965
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