This essay discusses the use of analogies drawn from the Holocaust in cultural representations and critical scholarship on dementia. The paper starts with a discussion of references to the death camp in cultural narratives about dementia, specifically Annie Ernaux’s account of her mother’s dementia in I Remain in Darkness. It goes on to develop a critique of Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s work on biopolitics and “bare life,” focusing specifically on the linguistic foundations of his thinking. This underpins a consideration of the limitations of his philosophy and ontologically derived notions of weakness and passivity in imagining life with dementia as a potential site of agency or as the locus for transformative ideas about care, community, and non-instrumentalist conceptions of human value.
Published in Bioethical Inquiry 16, 195–205 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-019-09913-5