The biopolitical theatre: tracing sovereignty and history in the 2009 Iranian show-trials.




Shohadaei, Setareh

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This work looks at the 2009 Iranian show-trials through modern discourses of biopolitics, sovereignty, and history. I argue that, understood as a theatrical phenomenon, the show trials are situated within the Foucauldian mode of biopower. The latter entails a shift from a politics of death to the preservation of the bios. The show-trials also perform a particularly modern narrative of state sovereignty and teleological history. To consider them in this way requires a rethinking of Michel Foucault’s theory so as to include juridico-philosophical discourse within a biopolitical framework. I propose that, as a performative act, the confessions transform the very thing they are confessing. Through the work of Jean Baudrillard and Jacque Derrida, I argue that the confessions make possible a reconceptualization of the political space of sovereignty as simulacrum and that of the political time of history as hauntology.



Biopolitics, Confession, Iran, Green Movement, Show-Trial, Sovereignty, History, Simulacrum, Hauntology, Political Theatre