Publication Details

This article was originally published as Rasmussen, ML and Harwood, V, Young people, education and unlawful non-citizenship: spectral sovereignty and governmentality in Australia, Globalisation, Societies and Education, 7(1), 2009, 5-22. Copyright Taylor & Francis 2009. Original item available here


This paper considers Judith Butler’s discussion of the intersections between governmentality and sovereign power in Precarious life: the powers of mourning and violence. We consider this interrelationship with a view to considering how this might enable us to expand our understanding of contemporary discourses governing young people within and outside Australia. In particular we focus on the production of groups of young people, such as those classified as ‘illegal immigrants’ who may be situated outside the frame of ‘public good’ or the ‘private interest’. This enables for a theorisation of the lives of groups of young people who may ‘have no definitive prospect for a re-entry into the political fabric of life, even as one’s situation is highly, if not fatally, politicized’. It is questionable whether the Foucauldian notion of governmentality gives sufficient account of the lives of these young people whose conduct is effectively considered irrelevant by the State. As educators, it is arguable that we have an ethical imperative to encourage our students to care for themselves, and for others, especially those others whose lives have been ‘fatally politicized’.


160809 Sociology of Education

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