The Government of the population functions through techniques of power which aim at shaping people’s lives and determining their actions in a way that follows a specific rationality. Accordingly, human life is intrinsically linked to politics, and the society and its individuals enact and reproduce power in their everyday actions. The analysis of the techniques of government, therefore, focuses not only on the mechanisms of legitimizing domination or masking violence, but includes examining the knowledge behind these practices of government, the “rationalisation” and normalization of these specific historical practices.
Citizenship regimes and human rights are two contested fields of such techniques of government. They play a role in defining those who count as worthy and unworthy of rights, as citizens, and those who are marginalized and excluded. The question of how life is governed, therefore, sets the framework for grasping these mechanisms and can enable ways of rethinking these boundaries and develop different possibilities of living.
DEMOS adopts this notion of government in its research and aims at investigating the politics of life and the practices of knowledge, truth and subjectivation behind these practices of government. DEMOS understands human rights and citizenship as a specific field of inquiry in this context and focuses its work on the borders of mainstream understandings of human rights, especially in respect to right to truth.