We are experiencing a fundamental shift in public health policies. For several decades, medical ethicists and cultural philosophers have warned about the increasing medicalization of life and the politicization of health care. The French philosopher Michel Foucault coined the term bio-politics to describe how human life becomes defined and controlled by the mechanisms of state authority. Governments increasingly utilize perceived crises to evoke states of emergency for curbing civil rights. Are these developments, which are advanced in the name of protecting health and security, compatible with traditional anthropologies that stress human freedom and responsibility? Are we witnessing the development of an Orwellian biomedical security state?

Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, clinical psychiatrist, ethicist, and author of The New Abnormal: The Rise of the Biomedical Security State (2022) will address these questions by describing the origin and effects of novel biomedical technologies and public policy changes. Dr. Kheriaty critically evaluates digital technologies of population surveillance and control favoured by the emergent biosecurity model of governance. He explores the potential dangers to our human identity and well-being posed by biomedical security approaches to public health.

Dr. Douglas Farrow, Professor of Theology and Ethics at McGill University, is our respondent. He will reflect on how the Christian church should evaluate and respond to the diminishment of human identity that undergirds biomedical security. Farrow is the author of many books including Ascension Theology (T&T Clark, 2011), Desiring a Better Country: Forays in Political Theology (McGill-Queens, 2015), and Theological Negotiations (Baker Academic, 2018).


The lecture will be held at Sage Bistro (6331 Crescent Road | Vancouver, BC | V6T 1Z2). Paid parking is available at the UBC Rose Garden Parkade.

The Rise of the Biomedical Security State | OFFICIAL INTERVIEW