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The Bioeconomy and the Birth of a “New Anthropology”

By Ruben Andersson

Cite As:
Andersson, Ruben. 2022. “The Bioeconomy and the Birth of a ‘New Anthropology.’” Cultural Anthropology 37, no. 1: 37–44.


This concluding reflection of the Colloquy considers how the bioeconomy, as an analytical lens, may cast light on processes of colonization beyond the territorial frame of spatial domination, settlement, and exploitation. Examining the power to colonize with special reference to the politics and policing of migration, it shows how certain migrants have come to serve as a laboratory in the quest to extract value from life itself—which itself links back to historical colonizations. What we may call a “new anthropology” is taking shape at the confluence of algorithms of artificial intelligence, mechanisms of finance and surveillance, and the multipolar geopolitical world emerging amid the Western project’s demise. Understanding the new frontiers of value extraction of this piecemeal yet powerful (quasi) science of humankind constitutes a crucial analytical task for us “old anthropologists,” and the bioeconomy may serve as a tool in this endeavor.


bioeconomy; migration; mobility; colonization; surveillance