Apr 20th, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM


The Bio-politics of Drugs in U.S. Political Discourse


This paper has two goals. First this paper examines the historical and theoretical relationship between bio-power and drugs as a modern form of political power. Secondly, it describes how people in modern society are subjected to bio-political mechanisms in terms of public health. Three dominant types of drug discourses result from the analysis: crime, health, and commerce. As the modern bio-politics has taken hold and increased in its reach, the frequency of drug discourses in Presidential speeches has also increased. The data set includes 220 speeches from 1790 to 2007 collected from “The American Presidency Project.” They were indexed using a text retrieval program called Word Cruncher 6.0. Results conclude that drugs and crime discourse is the most prevalent followed by health and commodity. The modern era of drug use in 1968 split presented these discourses before and after. The use of bio politics as a mechanism is displayed through its connection of different discourses mentioned earlier in a table which I have completed and displays the year of the first presidential speech to the present. Different examples from the actual state of the union addresses are utilized to reflect the analysis. To also highlight the conclusion section of this analysis, it seems to be that the regulation of drug policies, concerning crime as well as utilizing the health sector, bio-power seems to be a force in the care, management, regulation and maintenance of the nation state’s population.


Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Michael Blain