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Journal Articles Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory Year : 2021

The Life Strike


Abstract This article examines the forms of disobedience practiced by migrants at the European border to circumvent biotechnological modes of surveillance and identification, which are rooted in involuntary movements that can be used as evidence against migrants. What actually happens when bodily growth, heart rate, respiration, and body heat are integrated into technologies for the detection of life with a view to their measurement (biometrics) and the constitution of a database needed for border surveillance? What happens when life is turned against itself? How to disobey when the involuntary dimensions of the body—not only one's appearance but the body's very organicity and biochemistry—become the sites of a surveillance from which one can only escape by holding one's breath or burning one's fingerprints? This essay asks how the emerging tactics of migrants seek to escape their interior, organic lives, and identifies the “life strike” as a form of thanato-mimesis that consists in playing dead and limiting what in organic life is recognizable as such in order to go unnoticed and to interrupt racial interpellations.

Dates and versions

hal-03997618 , version 1 (20-02-2023)



Hourya Bentouhami. The Life Strike. Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory , 2021, 4 (2), pp.233-262. ⟨10.1215/26410478-9092334⟩. ⟨hal-03997618⟩
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