Blade Runner 2049 /
Thanatopolitics and colonial logics in Blade Runner 2049
Articled in Peer-Reviewed International Journals
Thesis Eleven, 166(1), 109–117
Link to article

This article critically engages with Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, focusing on the relationship between colonial logics and biological engineering that understands the natural world as property. First, it discusses the connections between the film and the shifting status of biopolitics becoming thanatopolitics, prompted by advances in synthetic biology. It argues that the film’s preoccupation with the reproductive capacity of its replicants retraces a racialized (post) colonialism and reconfigured slavery, or the voluntary labour of the occupied – as normalized in synthetic biology and the ongoing processes of devaluing of some lives over others for socioeconomic reasons. Second, and relatedly, the film reveals how deeply the thanatopolitics of a biopolitical economy is rooted in an intensification of racialized and colonial logics. The film thus doubles as a medium in which to grasp the centrality of colonial and racial logics to the ongoing real subsumption of life by capital, and the ways in which it continues to shape the present.