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Examining Metaphors in Biopolitical Discourse
Unformatted Document Text:  Metaphors in Biopolitics, page 4 Peter Andrée made a compelling case for discussing metaphors in biopolitics, which he described as “modern relations of power, rooted in specific expert truth-claims and material practices, that enable the regulation and efficient production of ‘life’ by scientists, governments and industries, as well as the forms of resistance that emerge in this context” (2002, p. 164). We anchor our discussion of metaphors in cognitive linguistics, building on three decades of research by scholars including Sam Glucksberg (2008), George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1980, 1999), and Ray Gibbs, Jr. (2006, 2008). Biopolitics allows us to address the political dimensions of how scientific information is communicated and how life is managed. We turn to discourse as the scaffold that supports our examination of metaphors in biopolitics. For Foucault, discourse served as a mechanism where truth claims are produced, reproduced and challenged. We argue that issues that engage biopolitics are fraught with claims of truth, objectivity and morality, and that such claims influence individual judgments, public opinion and policy. Truth, Foucault asserted, is spun through discourse, and any examination of discourse requires deconstructing the tactics and techniques used to bolster truth claims. We argue that metaphors have become effective tactics through which truth claims unfold. Cognitive linguistics provides an empirical, evidence-based foundation for our discussion of metaphors and metaphor interpretation. From the perspective of biopolitics—a particularly salient avenue to discuss metaphors and frames—we have selected four issues that promote both figurative and literal interpretations (resulting in entailments) of metaphors: Frankenfood, designer babies, vegetative state and death tax. We examine the literature that explicates figurative and literal entailments in metaphors, drawing linkages with message and cognitive framing in the mass communication arena. We then demonstrate through the four exemplars how meanings are created in discourse about biopolitics, attending to

Authors: Coleman, Cynthia-Lou. and Ritchie, L. David.
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Metaphors in Biopolitics, page 
4
Peter Andrée made a compelling case for discussing metaphors in biopolitics, which he 
described as “modern relations of power, rooted in specific expert truth-claims and 
material practices, that enable the regulation and efficient production of ‘life’ by 
scientists, governments and industries, as well as the forms of resistance that emerge in 
this context” (2002, p. 164). We anchor our discussion of metaphors in cognitive 
linguistics, building on three decades of research by scholars including Sam Glucksberg 
(2008), George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1980, 1999), and Ray Gibbs, Jr. (2006, 2008). 
Biopolitics allows us to address the political dimensions of how scientific information is 
communicated and how life is managed. We turn to discourse as the scaffold that 
supports our examination of metaphors in biopolitics. For Foucault, discourse served as 
a mechanism where truth claims are produced, reproduced and challenged. We argue 
that issues that engage biopolitics are fraught with claims of truth, objectivity and 
morality, and that such claims influence individual judgments, public opinion and policy. 
Truth, Foucault asserted, is spun through discourse, and any examination of discourse 
requires deconstructing the tactics and techniques used to bolster truth claims. We 
argue that metaphors have become effective tactics through which truth claims unfold. 
Cognitive linguistics provides an empirical, evidence-based foundation for our discussion 
of metaphors and metaphor interpretation. 
From the perspective of biopolitics—a particularly salient avenue to discuss 
metaphors and frames—we have selected four issues that promote both figurative and 
literal interpretations (resulting in entailments) of metaphors: Frankenfood, designer 
babies, vegetative state and death tax. We examine the literature that explicates 
figurative and literal entailments in metaphors, drawing linkages with message and 
cognitive framing in the mass communication arena. We then demonstrate through the 
four exemplars how meanings are created in discourse about biopolitics, attending to 


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