This essay examines two modes, qualities, and dynamics of lethality in contemporary late liberal societies: the state of killing and letting die. Using contemporary debates in Australia over indigenous health and welfare and new federal security laws, the essay explores contemporary social life at the catachresis of what appears to be a Schmittian strong state and a Foucauldian biopolitical state. The essay is particularly interested in the future redemptive, the catastrophic sublime, and the ethics of empathy on which these two forms of killing depend. The purpose is to understand, on the one hand, how the crossing of these two forms of killing euthanize thinking about forms of dying that are cruddy, chronic, and cumulative, and, on the other hand, a new form of ethics that refuses late liberal imaginaries of the future redemptive, the catastrophic sublime, and the ethics of empathy.
Skip Nav Destination
Elizabeth A. Povinelli; The Child in the Broom Closet: States of Killing and Letting Die. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 July 2008; 107 (3): 509–530. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-2008-004
Download citation file: