Politics in Knowledge: Malaria, State-Formation and the Making of Objects of Government

Omri Tubi, Northwestern University

Studies of the state show that states take territory, population, nature and the environment or any combination of these elements to be the primary objects of government and foci of political power. However, the question of how these objects of domination and government come to be or change remained largely undertheorized. Scholars who attempted to answer this question stress the importance of scientific knowledge in the process of governmentalization. Drawing on the case of malaria eradication in British ruled mandatory Palestine, I argue that it is not scientific knowledge per se that makes an object “legible”, but assumptions about political power and its limits – what I call politics in knowledge – that are “folded into” knowledge are the key to understanding processes of governmentalization.

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 Presented in Session 20. The Politics of Knowledge and Historical Memory