A Farewell to Homo Sacer? Sovereign Power and Bare Life in Agamben’s Coronavirus Commentary
Prozorov, S. (2023). A Farewell to Homo Sacer? Sovereign Power and Bare Life in Agamben’s Coronavirus Commentary. Law and Critique, 34(1), 63-80. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10978-021-09314-x
Published inLaw and Critique
© 2023 the Authors
The article addresses Giorgio Agamben’s critical commentary on the global governance of the Covid-19 pandemic as a paradigm of his political thought. While Agamben’s comments have been criticized as exaggerated and conspiratorial, they arise from the conceptual constellation that he has developed starting from the first volume of his Homo Sacer series. At the centre of this constellation is the relation between the concepts of sovereign power and bare life, whose articulation in the figure of homo sacer Agamben traces from the Antiquity to the present. We shall demonstrate that any such articulation is impossible due to the belonging of these concepts to different planes, respectively empirical and transcendental, which Agamben brings together in a problematic fashion. His account of the sovereign state of exception collapses a plurality of empirical states of exception into a zone of indistinction between different exceptional states and the normal state and then elevates this very indistinction to the transcendental condition of intelligibility of politics as such. Conversely, the notion of bare life, originally posited as the transcendental condition of possibility of positive forms of life, is recast as an empirical figure, whose sole form is the absence of form. We conclude that this problematic articulation should be abandoned for a theory that rather highlights the non-relation between sovereign power and bare life, which conditions the possibility of resistance and transformation that remains obscure in Agamben’s thought. ...
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media LLC
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Additional information about fundingOpen Access funding provided by University of Jyväskylä (JYU).
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