In the mid-1990s, Côte d'Ivoire witnessed the rise of the ideology of ivoirité, a conception of citizenship based on autochthonous origins. Ivoirité was elaborated by a group of Ivorian intellectuals in the context of the political struggle opposing Henry Konan Bedié to Alassane Ouattara in the succession to the late President Houphouët-Boigny. Through the tactical use of the rhetoric of ivoirité, Ouattara was depicted by his adversaries as a ‘Burkinabé’ trying to rule the country. Going beyond this tactical aspect, the article addresses the ideological relations linking ivoirité to the ‘project of an Ivorian liberal society’ explicitly constructed by the same intellectuals. These relations contributed to the emergence, in the Ivorian public space, of a discourse establishing self-evident, hegemonic connections between notions like autochthony, modernity and nationality, on the one hand, and biopolitical concepts like population, immigration, security and resources on the other. The article uses two complementary perspectives to frame this emergent discourse. One focuses on the historical continuity of the political-economic strategies and population policies implemented by colonial governments and post-colonial elites. The other uses Giorgio Agamben's critical enquiry into citizenship and nationality to bring to light the implication of the ivoirité intellectuals in the construction of a national bios, and thus in the singling out of a paradigmatic form of bare life.