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Abstract

This dissertation examines the topic of “global well-being” (as something distinct from global health or global mental health) through an emergent discourse in the science and politics of happiness on “subjective well-being.” It is argued that this discourse attempts to combine two traditions of thinking about well-being: the ancient eudaimonic tradition on the one hand, and the tradition of political economy on the other. Consequently, it examines a new configuration of both—a political economy of eudaimonia—and a new kind of person emerging at the center of that discourse, a paradoxical biopolitical figure I call homo-eudaimonicus. Through the example of mindfulness meditation, I offer a history and ethnography of that person as it turned up in science, politics and personal practice, highlighting in particular the importance of three kinds of “teleological affects” (mindlessness, tranquility and compassion) that, taken together, represent the affective dimensions of homo-eudaimonicus. Finally, through these teleological affects, I also argue for a rethinking of the bios in biopower, to include not just the concept of life itself, but the good life, and with that a teleo-power grounded in experiences of affective fullness.

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