La utopía biopolítica: Bartolomé de las Casas y la gestión de la vida indígena en el Memorial de remedios para las Indias (1516)
This article examines the relationship between biopolitics and colonialism in the Memorial de Remedios para las Indias (1516) by Bartolomé de las Casas, a detailed government plan proposed to the Sovereign in response to the exploitation of indigenous people and the catastrophic depopulation of the Antilles. Las Casas argues that indigenous life is the responsibility of the Sovereign and that the economic prosperity of the kingdom depends on the care of the precarious lives of the population that works in the mines and agriculture. Lascasian design includes a series of agrarian communities of Spaniards and indigenous people organized under a governmental and biopolitical rationality that takes care of life management and health care (refugee camps, hospitals, food, reproduction and miscegenation), at the same time it delineates a series of anthropomorphic policies (education, evangelization, discipline). Las Casas advocates a sort of “peaceful coloniality” and a benevolent regulation of labor that is unraveled with the violent realities of primitive colonial accumulation. The interest in life is not simply a product of the Christian caritas or a Renaissance humanism interested in good treatment, but a proper biopolitical calculation.
Key words: Colonial biopolitics, humanitarianism; government; agrarian communities, La Española; Carib; public health; refugees; human rights; remedial colonialism.