Agamben Affirmative and Neg - Wake 201

Agamben Affirmative – SJS 2018
Current US immigration is premised off deterrence – directing migratory paths
through nature’s killing fields along the border. The active decentering of sovereign
power into border agents has strengthened a virtual border of security devices and
puppet sovereign which elides responsibility and excludes migrants to bare life
Dowle 17 (Lewis, University of St Andrews, Postgraduate ESRC, “Spaces of Exception and Refusal? The
Borderzone of Mexico/US”, E-International Relations, Online:
zone_of_MexicoUS, 7/4, DTS)
Since the 1990s, the
borderzone has become a space of exception through the enforcement of the US
strategy of ‘Prevention through Deterrence. Through deterrence, this policy seeks to quell the number
of migrants attempting to cross the border, directing migratory paths through deserts and allowing
‘nature [to] take its course. Powerful discourse pertaining to securitization legitimizes these extremities and (re)writes the modern
Mexico/US borderzone. The scripts utilized in the branding of such migrants has evolved from a threat to
local jobs to the breach of national security. To enforce their soevereignty, the US could not afford to
be inattentive to the unparalleled level of migration, therefore action was deemed necessary. This
policy to defend the Homeland Security renders migrants as bare life, with states wielding their
weapons of sovereignty and biopower Though not absolutely sealed, this borderzone serves as a ‘moral alibi’,
determining nature to blame for deaths. These areas develop into ‘killing fields’, with the state of
exception becoming the rule, the material realization of Agamben’s Camp. Coleman contests that the spatiality
regarding this Camp is not limited to the borderzone, but that it is relocating into America’s interior. Thus Coleman takes a nuanced reflection
asserting that border enforcement therefore becomes increasingly everywhere. Building on Coleman’s observations, two further reflections can
be drawn. Firstly,
the nature of ‘Prevention through Deterrence’ is applicable to US immigration policy
beyond the Mexico/US borderzone. Deterrence is present in the media, witnessed in the scripts of
politicians and citizens across the nation. Racial discourse deters those who do not represent the
traditional American. Secondly, the prevention can be seen to increase this occurrence. Undocumented migrants from
Mexico (and elsewhere) desire for greater standards of living which the US is perceived to possess.
The bare life of the economically inactive are rejected, with the elite of society only welcoming in Foucault’s homo
economicus. This very act of prevention to the economically less able re-enforces the dominance of the US economy. Utilising spatial and
temporal scales, we can thereby trace prevention through deterrence not only across the borderzone, but throughout the United States.
Considering temporal scales allows one to see the complexity to which US policy is deeply seated. In short, prevention through deterrence
assumes the emphasis on drastically decreasing the factors which previously encouraged migration. In reality, such actions serve to re-instate
the northward magnet of migration due to unparalleled economic disparities which are only going to grow. This topic will be returned to in
relation to the role resistance plays to such enforcement. Petty Sovereigns, Puppet Sovereigns With a borderzone that covers 26 million square
feet, how is this securitisation practiced in reality?
Beyond the actions of the state, responsibility for the ‘safety’ of
the border is delegated to individual non-federal officials and immigration agents. Though not the
sovereign, these ‘petty sovereigns’ (to use Butler’s terminology) are “delegated the authority to make
the decision on the exception for the sovereign”. Therefore, the assertion proposed here is beyond simply referring to these
agents as petty sovereigns, but rather as puppet sovereigns, succumbing to the will of the official sovereign. Border agents become
powerful to their particular realm. This power is not original or versatile, rather embedded in the
confines of the master puppeteer or sovereign. Immigration officials are vested the power to judge
the validity of the migrant, that is the identity performed during this moment of crisis at the border
(Salter, 2008; Sparke, 2006). The breath of the immigration officer dictates the political life or death of every individual in the borderzone. To
aid in the state’s endeavors, further help is required in the form of technology which will now discussed. Smart Borders and Tall Orders In order
to effectively discuss the utilization of borders within the Mexico/US context, a securitization framework is required. After 9/11, the Bush
administration was swift to look to technology to aid in the War on Terror with the introduction of Smart Borders. With the terrorist attacks of
2001 seen by some as an avoidable event if technology was more prevalently used, this discourse resulted in the significant funding of $10
billion in the (further) securitization of US borders. With every increase in expenditure, the Mexico/US border observed decreased attempted
crossings and the empowering of the barricade to migration. Used both north and south of the border, high-tech surveillance was brought to
the forefront of US immigration policies. Technology’s
role implemented a ‘virtual border’ with the use of x-rays,
fingerprints and retina scans to speed the process of immigration and cargo checks which had
previously brought cities to gridlock following 9/11. Amoore (2006) discusses the curious implications of the United States
Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US VISIT). The VISIT system applies risks to varying occupations, ethnicities, genders and
From this, systems would score certain members of society as ‘higher risks’ to national security
than others. This is a racial discourse of discrimination, as individuals are seen no longer as persons
but as numbers, reduced to a statistic of a population, foreseen by Foucault through biopower. To
combat this discrimination, humanitarianism bears a strong discourse to which we now turn.
Resolutional calls for an ease of mobility have been structured by the state of
exception to be weaponized against noncitizens to subject them to biopolitical
discipline and render them into bare life
Packer 2006 (Jeremy, Jeremy Packer received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 2001. Before
coming to the University of Toronto, he was Assistant Professor at Penn State University, and both
Associate Professor and Professor at North Carolina State University. He has also been a visiting Lecturer
in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam and in Media and Communication Studies at the
University of Jonkoping, Sweden, “Becoming Bombs: Mobilizing Mobility In The War Of Terror”, 20
August 2006, Cultural Studies Vol. 20, Nos. 4 -5,
An automobile
is a lethal weapon, an instrument of power
the little man given a hundred and fifty big horses. Under the
stress of hostility, he may use this power quite irrationally. (Zolotow 1955, p. 14) The war
is on and we are all becoming bombs.
Let me repeat. The war is on and whether you like it or not (upon entering the US Homeland), you are becoming a bomb. In the US’s new
war of terror a specific formation of the war machine has been turned upon its own citizenry . Citizens
and non-citizens alike are now treated as an always present threat. In this sense all are imagined as combatants and
all-terrain the site of battle. Mobility , the crossing of terrain, is in differing ways a prime form of weaponry. Contextually,
it has become something of a cliche´ to recognize the increasingly mobile global population. Yet, the explosive
possibilities of such mobility and how this alters the relation of governed and governance are something which has yet to receive ample
theoretical attention. Gillian Fuller (2003) stresses that ‘We might move more, and through increasingly complex landscapes, but we
are also
more streamlined and proceduralised in these movements’. When such movement is increasingly
processed and treated as if it might be a bomb, mobile subjects are made enemies in terms of the
state’s relationship to them. This essay examines previous forms of governing, or proceduralising, mobility and the legitimating
logic for doing so, and how these have been radically altered post 9/11 via implementations of Homeland Security. Whether at border
crossings, airport terminals, roadside police interrogations, ports, or security checks at government buildings, what is often referred to as
of movement’ has become one site where the ‘Homeland’s’ security is seen to be at risk. Points
that Fuller notes are thresholds where we are checked. Conceptions of whom has such freedom to cross, how, when,
where, and with what velocity, has all changed. As the Department of Homeland Security’s website ( 2002) states,
‘The increasing mobility and destructive potential of modern terrorism has required the United States to rethink and
rearrange fundamentally its systems for border and transportation security’. Yet, mobility is also imagined as a productive
force for ensuring homeland security as a number of programs call upon the auto-mobile citizen to expand the capacities of state surveillance.
For instance the Terrorism
Information and Prevention System called for citizens to keep an eye out for
potential terrorist activity while in their cars. The 300,000 transportation industry workers were called upon by the American
Trucking Association and the Department of Homeland Security to take part in Highway
Watch which would conscript truckers as
part of a mobile surveillance system. This is not to simply state that a more repressive form of power is being enacted in which
mobile individuals are constantly being told ‘No. You can not enter (or leave) here’. Though for many this has been the case.1 Rather, how
mobility is governed and used to govern has changed. It is in essence a question of ‘how has mobility been differently
problematized?’2 What follows is a detailed examination of how the governance of one form of mobility, automobility, provides insight into the
broader problematic. When
every car is imagined as a possible car-bomb, the rules of the road obviously
change. These new formulations draw from those derived of previous problematizations of mobility. The
technologies of governance present in the not so distant past have surely been ramped up, but they are not wholly new. As the head of
Technology and Public Policy Program for the Center for Strategic and International Studies states (Lewis cited in Shachtman 2003) in reference
to the most far-reaching of these new technologies, Combat Zones that See (CTS), ‘it’s just connecting things that already exist’. In fact, the very
technologies used under the guidance of what I call the automobility safety regime (Packer 2003); have been
applied extensively in this new security regime. Yet, it is partially the availability of such technologies that makes for their easy
application. David Lyon (2003) makes evident that such new applications have been widespread in the U.S’.s war on terror.
Homeland Security in this regard is a new use of old tools; a governmental and corporate game of shifting resources
and expenditures from one profitable arena to an even more profitable one. But, it is also much more
than that. The logic of automotive safety has worked part and parcel with a biopolitical formation of
disciplinarity and control. Safety as a set of practices and a legitimizing discourse has been both a goal of biopolitics
and a means for ensuring discipline and implementing a control society. More specifically it is one means for
‘governing at a distance’; that is, organizing, regulating, and making productive the mobility of individuals and the population alike
without direct governmental control.3 In other words, the goals of ensuring the safety of an auto-mobile population and the efficiency of the
automobile system demands that driving subjects become highly normalized and self-disciplined. The
goals of national security
are now imagined as depending upon the same disciplinary and control technologies that have proven effective in
both increasing automotive safety and in legitimating and extending the very possibilities for a control society. To
make clear, Homeland Security is not simply a means for creating the conditions for the safe existence of
citizens or for guaranteeing the security of the nation . It is also a means for further implementing what
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (2001, p. 38)
have termed Empire which is ‘based on a state of permanent
exception and police action’ . Such a state of exception turns all terrain, including the Homeland, into a
battlefield and all traversing it become actionable forces for police/ military use or intervention.
Previously the logic of safety was used as the moral cause by which the activation of a control society had come about in the realm of
personalized transport. And under such conditions the stated role of the police was to help save lives by enforcing rules of vehicular conduct.
Under current conditions attempts
for achieving the control society as described by Gilles Deleuze (1995) and later articulated
are animated in regards to mobility via security
as the primary mechanism of power for Empire (Hardt and Negri 2001)
concerns. What follows is (1) an examination of how the logics of safety and security differ, specifically as they relate to mobility and (2) an
investigation of how these logics are activated through a particular mode of mobility, the automobile. This essay then examines these
fundamental changes through a historical and theoretical analysis of how the control society has been operating in relation to automobility;
changes that it is argued are experiments ultimately for controlling all forms of human mobility
The border is no longer relegated to the physical – security devices replicate the
laboratory and compartmentalizes reality to be studied and manipulated to
reconfigure the world
Bourne et al 15 (Mike Bourne, Lecturer in International Security at Queen's University Belfast, UK,
Heather Johnson, Senior Lecturer School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Debbie Lisle,
Professor, international relations in the School of Politics, International Studies, and Philosophy at
Queen's University Belfast., Security Dialogue, Vol 46, Issue 4, pp. 307 – 325, Online:, 7/5, DTS)
Critical Border Studies shows that sovereign decisions of bordering practices (the decision to permit or
exclude) are not exceptional acts of an ‘unencumbered sovereign’ (Côte-Boucher et al., 2014: 199) or the force of a
singular security rationality, but are constituted by discretionary judgements performed by border guards
(Salter, 2008). While we acknowledge Butler’s (2006: 65) claim that these ‘petty sovereigns’ deploy power in order to
‘reanimate’ sovereignty, we also know that bordering practices exceed anthropocentric framings
because they also enrol non-humans, devices, practices, assumptions, and imaginations (Smith, 2009).
Thus, discretionary sovereign decisions are assemblages that emerge from the interactions of border
guards, procedures, detection devices, sniffer dogs, environmental conditions, screens and readings,
suspicions, mobilities, imaginations, and experiences (Connolly, 2010: 179; Deleuze and Parnet, 2007). Moreover, these
decisions occur continually and simultaneously at multiple sites and scales. Drawing upon recent conversations between security studies, STS,
Actor-Network Theory (ANT), and Post-Humanism, we do not seek to simply ‘apply’ STS approaches to issues of border security studies; STS
scholars continually caution against ‘application’ (Acuto and Curtis, 2013; Adey and Anderson, 2012; Aradau, 2010; Bellanova and González
Fuster, 2013; Salter 2015a, 2015b; Walters, 2014). Rather, we engage the strange yet mundane topologies of the intersections between science
and security that unsettle our familiar assumptions about both fields. We do not seek to merely identify fruitful correspondences or
controversies between these two fields, but to engage the space that emerges by working between them. Laboratories
assemblages of people, expertise, instruments, materials, routines, etc. They are constructed sites in which the
work of controlling variables and reducing ‘noise’ is done in order to detect and identify entities’ actions and to act or enable others to act upon
them. They
are never merely the secluded spaces of the production of scientific knowledge, but rather
are both the sites and the sets of productive forces that make the construction of reality possible (Latour
and Woolgar, 1979). Our research shows that the distinction between device/artefact and laboratory (site and forces) is a blurred one, better
grasped as the productive stabilization of different sites and times, and different actants and forces, into a particular co-functioning. For Callon
et al. ‘the
laboratory is a machine for producing inscriptions, for making possible their discussion,
interpretation, and mobilization’ (2001: 51). Laboratories transform ‘teeming, dispersed crowds into … traces that can be taken in
at a glance’ (2001: 51). Here, laboratory actions closely resemble bordering actions to be performed by the Handhold device:
transforming chaotic crowds into rapidly actionable traces and indicators that enable and shape
future actions. Our argument is that the politics of bordering are distributed and constituted in the
earlier transformations of ‘crowds’ into traces, traces into inscriptions, and inscriptions into decisions.
The development of a security device, then, is political, and contains multiple political actions. Rather
than separate worlds of laboratory sites and border sites we find connections and flows, we find
political forces active in the laboratory, bordering decisions enacted in the laboratory, and
anticipations of laboratory actions at the border. To draw out our claim that discretionary sovereign decisions include the
antecedent register of laboratories of device development, we use Michel Callon’s (1986) concept of ‘translation’ that articulates how multiple
things (goals, materials, devices, etc.) are brought into relation with one another, and how they are modified through this process (see also
Freeman, 2009). One of the most useful schematics of translation is set out by Callon, Pierre Lascoumes and Yannick Barthe (2001) to analyse
the political implications of an increasingly specialised and socio-technical world where the controversies of political life both entangle and
redefine the boundary of the social and the technical. For them, the
world does not divide neatly into separate technical
and political issues; rather ‘[t]o declare an issue is technical is effectively to remove it from the
influence of public debate; on the other hand, to recognize its social dimension restores its chance of
being discussed in political arenas’ (Callon et al., 2001: 25). Foregrounding this social dimension means understanding that
laboratory work does not exist in isolation, but rather develops through ‘ceaseless movement … permanent exchanges between specialists and
the world that surrounds them … the laboratory is only one element in a larger set-up, one stage in a long succession of comings and goings’
(Callon et al., 2001: 47–48). In theorizing these ‘comings and goings’ of science, Callon et al. (2001) present translation as an interconnected
process with three distinct stages. These are understood as Translation 1, which
represents the reduction of the
macrocosm to the microcosm or, more simply put, reduces the real world to the lab, ‘translating’
reality into simplified forms so that it can then be studied and manipulated. This manipulation is
Translation 2, as a group composed of human actors (scientists, technologists) and, crucially, also their
instruments and devices, explores these simplified objects, testing them in ‘laboratory conditions’ to
have real, if contained, effects. Translation 3 is the return of these objects to the ‘real world’ – but also
the reconfiguration of the real world to reflect laboratory conditions and so to produce analogous
effects to those experienced in the lab. Callon et al. (2001: 65) elaborate on this through their concept of ‘laboratisation’, which
suggests that what is achieved in one enacted space (Translation 2) must be retained in its movement to another (Translation 3). For Callon et
al. this is a rather unidirectional process of transformation: ‘For
the world to behave as in the research laboratory… we
simply have to transform the world so that at every strategic point a “replica” of the laboratory, the
site where we can control the phenomena studied, is placed’ (2001: 65). Not only does this ensure a
degree of stability of the assemblage as it moves/translates, it also ensures that the world ‘behave[s]
as in the research laboratory’.
State sponsored vigilantism and domestic surveillance systems have moved the states
of exception along the borders inwards, expanding sovereign control and reinforcing
biopolitical control of the interior to create the perpetual fear of death
Amoore and De Goede 2005 (Louise and Marieke, Louise Amoore researches and teaches in the
areas of global geopolitics and security, Marieke de Goede is Professor of Politics, with a focus on
Europe in a Global Order, at the Department of Politics of the University of Amsterdam, where she codirects the research group Transnational Configuration, Conflict and Governance, “Governance, risk and
dataveillance in the war on terror”, Springer, 2005,
Authority and authorization In their seminal discussion of the governmentalization of modern societies, Nikolas Rose and Mariana Valverde
conclude that
the “authority of authority” has been established and defended “through alliances
between the different legitimacies conferred by law and expertise” (1998: 550). The US VISIT programme
is just such a point of alliance between the law (embodied in the US Patriot Act) and expertise (conferred by the
contracts with a range of risk management experts). On announcing Accenture’s contract, the Department of Homeland
Security argued that “by harnessing the power of the best minds 166 L. AMOORE AND M. DE GOEDE in the
private sector it is possible to enhance the security of our country while increasing efficiency at our
borders” (DHS, 2 June, 2004a). Similarly, Accenture’s Eric Stange, managing partner of the Homeland Security practice, talks of the Smart
Border Alliance as “a strong team of highly qualified companies with significant border management expertise” (Accenture press release, 2004:
2). For one of Accenture’s sub-contractors, Titan Corp., some of this expertise was acquired through the supply of interrogators and
interpreters to the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Nonetheless, US VISIT represents a programme
of authorization that actively
decentres the state and blurs the boundaries of public and private domains of governance. By virtue
of a system that disperses power throughout a network of agencies, the “surveillance of migrant
illegality” (Coutin, 2000) takes a renewed twist that authorizes private authorities and individuals to engage in the everyday policing of the
movement of people. According to reports of Accenture’s bid for the US VISIT contract, for example, the consultants positioned immigrants at
the heart of their proposals: “Accenture wowed government officials with a demo that included wireless tags that tracked immigrants
whereabouts” (Business Week, 2004b: 74). Given US
VISIT’s status as a system designed to verify those who have
visas (i.e. not for immigrants), it is this targeting of immigrant groups under the guise of efficient border
management that is provoking widespread concern among civil liberties groups. As one civil liberties
representative explained: “since 9/11 the public authorities have turned to the private authorities to design the architecture of the systems, to
make ‘efficient’ systems.”12 The concern is that the
authorization of groups such as the Smart Border Alliance to act
to govern the movement of people has, in effect, depoliticized the US VISIT system and normalized its
practices on the grounds of expertise and technical know-how . The extension of border control
authority into the private sphere does not end with private firms , however. As Accenture’s Eric Stange explained in
an interview following the award of the US VISIT contract, what is needed in the war on terror is a “cultural change,” a
shift that extends beyond governments and firms, and into individuals’ perceptions of their own
responsibilities (CIO Insight, 2004). Perhaps an example of such a shift towards a state of constant vigilance can be
found in Town Compass LLC, a Seattle data company,
marketing personal products to fight the war on terror . Their
‘Most Wanted Terrorists’ database is available as a free download
to pocket PCs and smartphones as part of their
‘Terrorism Survival’ bundle. As Town Compass explain: “people can have the photos and descriptions at their fingertips at all times in case they
spot a suspicious person, easily comparing the person to the photo without endangering themselves” (cited in Military and Aerospace
the vigilant citizen succeed in
identifying a suspicious person, the package comes complete with one-touch dialling to the FBI and
full details of currently available rewards . The growth of technologies of self-governance has had an
important role to play in the extension of risk management in the war on terror. At the time of writing the exit
technologies for US VISIT are undergoing pilot trials at selected US airports. Ultimately, however, it will be the responsibility of travellers to
“check-out” by scanning their passport and their fingerprints at individual kiosks in departure lounges. Airline passengers are warned during inflight videos that their exit details are required in order to enable future entry into the United States. In a similar manner to the technologies
that establish credit ratings for individuals, the
US VISIT system will, over time, have risk “entry and exit” ratings
for individuals. Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport is already demonstrating future possibilities with its members only ‘Privium’ programme.
Open only to EU-passport holders, $ 145 annual fee and a biometric submission entitles members to expedited security queues and linked
frequent flier benefits (Fox, 2004). Such programmes have the effect of inculcating a culture of ‘responsible risk taking’ where the frequent flier
voluntarily engages in the governance of him/herself as well as that of others.
Bureaucracy’s complicity in its indirect decision over life and death renders migrants
to bare life. Using the selectiveness of legal status in mobility, the sovereign controls
movement which makes immigration a tool of necropolitics
Chakkour 15 (Soukaina, PhD Student, Utrecht University, Erasmus Mundus Master's Degree in
Women's and Gender Studies, “Speaking near Necropolitics: Sovereignty, Geopolitics of Death and
Sexual Difference”, Utrecht University, Online:, 7/6, DTS)
Bureaucracy as a System of Necropolitics Let us then attempt to also point out to the concrete manifestations and repercussions of the
restriction on movement. In
performing this exercise, it is necessary to analyze the bureaucratic procedures
dictated by the restriction on movement in order to demonstrate the complicity of the bureaucratic
system in the production of death. As it has been mentioned before, one example of the bureaucracy
of migration is the visa requirements. When those latter are not satisfied, then the decision over a
denied visa, for example, translates itself directly into putting one’s self in a situation of
precariousness, because it leaves the person wishing to cross over with no other choice than to do it
illegally. The absence of the option of a legal crossover, which wouldn’t put the life of the people involved in danger; is the direct result of
the bureaucracy put at place. To satisfy visa requirements is not available for all third world countries
nationals. This impossibility then leads the persons wishing to cross to giving in to other options,
which unfortunately, leads to their death as it is the case of the example I am using in this chapter. Another reading we can use
to understand the complicity of the bureaucracy at place is govermentality. As it has been mentioned in the first chapter, governmentality is a
set of tactics aimed at managing the population. As
a form of management, the bureaucracy put at place is also
embedded in the larger complex system of governmentality: by installing a policy of selectiveness
according to certain indicators in order to decide on who may or may not cross legally. By putting the
decision over who may cross and who may not in the hands of the bureaucrats, the decision over the life of the people involved is equally called
into question. For
third country nationals, who may cross and who may not, becomes, in some cases,
synonymous for who may live and who may die, which effectively activates the right to kill, although
this occurs in an indirect way, which is an aspect that must be emphasized since it contributes
significantly to the discourse produced on the death of the migrants. The general trend in this discourse prefers to
point to the direct factors contributing to the death of the migrants, for instance the human traffickers. And while it is important to also
consider these factors; it is no less important to also speak about other more subtle and structural elements which are responsible for the
death of the migrants as well. This is what Mbembe refers to as invisible ways of killing, which is an idea that was mentioned in the last chapter.
41 The
danger of such killings lies precisely in the fact that the complicity of the bureaucratic systems,
sustained by the sovereign order is hindered under the guise of legality. Since this decision is concerned with the
entry to another country, it is also simultaneously concerned with the issue of sovereignty since its objective
is to regulate the movement of the people through the border, which a significant manifestation of
the sovereign order, perhaps it is also the most obvious one. The decision for example over the visa, which is
completely made inside consulates and embassies, evaluated by bureaucrats and justified mostly by
papers determining certain legal aspects, invests those same bureaucrats, although in indirect ways
with the possibility of making a decision over the life of the people who wish to go to Europe. In this case, the reading of
Butler on the return of sovereignty is well placed to describe the situation: sovereignty indeed is reaffirmed through a
bureaucratic system and it effectively returns through governmentality. The visa requirement as an example is
only one way of trying to analyze how bureaucracy plays a role in producing necropolitics. It is therefore equally important to speak about the
political consequences of such remarks and their repecussions. In Precarious Life, Butler argues that the entanglement of sovereignty with
governmentality under the reign of the bureacrats leads to the cancellation of accountability (Butler, 2004: 66). It is
therefore to reflect on this cancellation of accountability as it also confronts us with the ethical
dilemma of who is responsible for the death of the migrants. This is an important question to consider, and the
objective here is not to answer the question in a certain way; but rather to invoke the ambivalence of the situation itself: it is not that a denied
visa kills the migrant; but how the denied visa may lead to the death of the migrant that I wish to point to in this case. The
of accountability can also be translated in Agamben’s language as the production of bare life: since no
one is held accountable for the death of the migrants, then their death is indeed unpunishable. There is a
certain liability that pertains to the bureaucratic system that is put at place in dealing with questions of the movement of the people, however
the difficulty lies in the impossibility of identifying a concrete liable party to account for the death of the migrant. Therein
lies the
danger of leaving the decision over movement in the hands of the bureaucratic system: the lack of
accountability and the absence of responsibility. These political repercussions are necessary to
consider in interrogating the sovereign system, here exemplified in the border system, in order to
articulate the defects of such system and its unfortunate political consequences. As a mechanism,
bureaucracy in this case fulfills a necropolitical function: to decide on who may cross and who may
not, who may live and who may die.
The impact is bare life – to be rendered invisible by the sovereign and be eradicated
under the guise of national security
Soyinka-Airewele 15 (Peyi, Professor of International Relations, & Comparative Studies, Carnegie
Fellow at the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Covenant University, Canaan
Land, Ota, “The End of Politics? Reclaiming Humanity in the Age of Biopower and Necropolitics”
Covenant University Public Lecture Series. Vol. 4 No. 2, March 2015, Online:, 7/11, DTS)
Agamben argued that in fact the modern political ―power over life (as in Foucault‘s theorization of biopower) is
predicated on a more fundamental ―power over death belonging to sovereignty (1998: 83). Since
sovereign power encapsulates the power to …suspend law and the protections it confers on subjects
(Hannah, 2006: 633), Agamben urges that individuals are ―biological beings ultimately vulnerable to death at the
hands of the sovereign, that is, as homo sacer or bare life This is tragically apparent in the hundreds of
thousands of enforced citizen disappearances and other human rights atrocities committed during the
cold war under military regimes across Latin America; and in the absence of investigations or justice
for those subjected to enforced disappearance in CIA custody under former President George W. Bush in the context of
the ―War on Terror. Similarly, under Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir‘s policy of Arabization and Islamization, a vicious
scorched earth ethnocidal policy designed to subjugate the southern racial and religious opposition
led to a cumulative death toll of well over 2 million pointing to a reality in which citizens are ―bare
life. Unfortunately, as in the case of China, we tend to initially negate and normalize the tragedies of everyday
biopower, absorbing everyday violence and violations without reflecting on their corrosive impact on
our communities, trusting in elections to move us from the jungle of death to the administration of
life. But has the old form of sovereign power, embodied in "the right of seizure of things, time, bodies, and
ultimately life itself," truly gradually yielded to the biopolitical "administration of bodies and the calculated
management of life?"(Kordela, 2015:1). Agamben insists that Foucault‘s construct of biopower as those everyday normalized ‘‘ forms of
biopolitical control actually, share common roots with the extreme programs of violence we associate
with totalitarianism One of the most brutal applications can be found in the atrocities of the Nazi
concentration camps, in which Jews and others "were exterminated not in a mad and giant [sacrificial] holocaust but, exactly as Hitler
had announced, 'as lice,' which is to say, as bare life". Of course, we do not have to go far back into history for proof. We live in a world
currently dominated by news of ISIS and Boko Haram who regularly upload gleeful videos of their
extermination of human beings as reminders of the capacity of the sovereign to imagine and eradicate
humans as bare life. However, Foucault did not suggest that a ―biopolitical regime effectively protects all life. On the contrary, he
admitted that the ―destruction of life remains an integral part of biopolitics in all modern states, but also
submitted that quite unlike life under the reign of the sovereign, biopolitical management of life in liberal states
―now requires a recodification of any assault on life in terms that justify it[‘; from a biopolitical point of view. Perhaps the difference between
exercising ―power over death and the ―power over life is negligible. Tyner puts it succinctly, ―Whether
characterized as bare
life ‘(Agamben, 1998), wasted lives , humans-as-waste, abandoned lives, disposable lives , precarious lives
‘(Butler, 2004), or any of the other myriad terms currently being introduced, the commonality is that some
populations are legally relegated to the realm of surplus and thus, rendered expendable (Tyner, 2013: 708).
No wonder Edkins insists that ―to be called traumatic- to produce symptoms of trauma, an event has to involve more than mere helplessness.
It has to involve a betrayal of trust as well, there is an extreme menace, but what is special is where the violence comes from. It
place when the ―very powers that we are convinced will protect us and give us security become our
tormentors: when the community of which we consider ourselves members turns against us or when
our family is no longer a source of refuge but a site of danger.
The 1AC is an embrace of the whatever singularity – to become a subject not reducible
to teleological ends which opens up new avenues of insurrectionary inoperativity to
resist states of exception
Newman 17 (Saul, Professor of Political Theory and Head of Department, University of London, “What
is an Insurrection? Destituent power and ontological anarchy in Agamben and Stirner”, Political Studies,
65(2), pp. 284-299. ISSN 0032-3217, Online:, 7/9, DTS)
The theological dimension which yet persists within modern forms of politics produces certain degraded forms of subjectivity, precisely because
it seeks to capture in a separate and sacred domain an essential identity we are required to live up to, and are excluded if we do not. Thus,
for Agamben, the continual attempt to separate bios from zoe, to isolate a dimension of bare life as
distinct from politically qualified life, produces forms of disqualified subjectivity – exemplified by the
figure of homo sacer – which are caught within the sovereign state of exception and are subject to
state violence (see Agamben 1998). Indeed, this is an aspect of a more general rationality operating at the heart of modernity, which,
according to Agamben, seeks to separate the nonhuman within the human (2004b: 37- 8). In projecting a figure of the human, of man, as
distinct from the animal – as has been the characteristic gesture of the Western philosophical and indeed political tradition - one ends up
simply animalizing man or at least certain kinds of men. A
similar point is made by Stirner, who shows that the
sacralising of man produces the ‘un-man’ as the irreducible remainder: ‘the un-man is a man who
does not correspond to the concept man, as the inhuman is something human which is not conformed
to the concept of the human’ Is there a way of thinking about subjectivity which avoids this political anthropology and the
alienating divisions it imposes? I would argue that both Agamben and Stirner propose an insurrectionary or
ontologically anarchic understanding of the subject: a form of subjectivity which is not founded on
any essence or firm ontological category, and which is not reducible to any kind of fixed identity; a
form of subjectivity without a particular telos or destiny which would otherwise bind us to systems of
sovereign power. This is what Agamben is proposing with his notion of form-of-life, which he defines as ‘a life that can never be
separated from its form, a life in which it is never possible to isolate something such as naked life’; a life ‘for
which what is at stake in its way of living is living itself… It defines a life — human life — in which the
single ways, acts, and processes of living are never simply facts but always and above all possibilities
of life, always and above all power.’ (Agamben 2000, 2-3). This profane conception of life, freed from
abstractions, and in which the divisions between bios and zoe, between politically qualified life and
bare or natural life, are suspended, finds a surprising parallel with Stirner’s peculiar understanding of egoism. Egoism might be
understood as a way of living and seeing oneself outside of the humanist abstractions and fixed ideas which otherwise consign us to an
alienated existence. So far from implying a simple selfishness, egoism is a singular form of life that is no longer consignable to any generality, be
it essence, species, class, citizenship, or even the abstract liberal category of ‘the individual’. Rather,
the ego (de einzige) or,
more accurately, the ‘unique one’, resists all such identities and categories, and is an open, fluid space
– a kind of continual becoming without any foundation, essence or destiny: ‘I do not presuppose
myself, because I am every moment just positing or creating myself, and am I only by being not
presupposed but posited, and, again, posited only in the moment when I posit myself’ There is a striking
parallel here, I would suggest, between the ‘unique one’ and Agamben’s figure of ‘whatever singularity’ - an open,
undefined subject indifferent to any representable identity, and reducible neither to particularities
nor generalities. Moreover, it is the coming together of these open, empty, undefinable singularities which poses an unacceptable threat
to the state precisely because they evade the representative channels of state power; Agamben’s powerful example here is the Tiananmen
Square protests in 1989 (see 2000, 85-8), although we could point to more recent examples such as Tahrir Square and Occupy Wall Street. Such
convergences of ‘whatever singularities’ – which signal what Agamben calls ‘the coming community’ – strongly echo Stirner’s enigmatic and
seemingly paradoxical notion of the ‘union of egoists’ (see 1995, 161). The
union is a contingent, open form of association
which, unlike established political communities - nation, state, political parties and so on - demands
no sacrifice of the individual to some collective higher goal or reigning ideology; rather, it is left to be
freely determined by those who join. What is embodied within these various figures of ontologically anarchic subjectivity, then,
is the possibility of a non-sovereign politics. In other words, in wanting to free subjectivity from essence, identity
and telos, Stirner and Agamben point to the possibility of alternative, non-statist and autonomous
forms of association and community which are not representable through existing political categories
and institutions; which are perhaps – indeed necessarily – vaguely defined, but which open up an alternative
insurrectionary horizon for politics.Passive and active insurrections: inoperativity and ownness I have characterised the
insurrection as a mode of political action which neither seeks power, nor opposes it in any simplistic sense, but which, rather, profanes it,
suspending its operation and fostering instead autonomous relations and forms of subjectivity. Central to this is Agamben’s key idea of
inoperativeness or inoperativity. Inoperativity
is a form of activity that is no longer consigned to ‘work’ and
which is freed from any overarching project or telos. Indeed, for Agamben, rather than politics being
about the strategic pursuit of universal ends, or the fulfilment of a historical destiny – such as liberaldemocracy or communism - it is more fundamentally about this ‘being-without-work’ or the absence
of vocation proper to human life (Agamben 2000, 140-1). Yet, to understand this thoroughly we must consider the closely related
notion of potentiality which, Agamben argues, is only meaningful if it includes the ontological condition of impotentiality. Here his
interpretation of Aristotle’s dynamis emphasises the ‘want of potentiality’: the potential to do or to be is thus also the potential ‘not to be’ or
‘not to do’ (Agamben 1999, 182-3). There
is, for Agamben, a radical potentiality and power contained in not
acting, a potentiality that is dangerous to governing regimes precisely insofar as it is withheld,
suspended, not put to use. At times, simply refusing to act, refusing to be drawn into codified forms of action – even those that
ostensibly protest and oppose governing liberal-capitalist regimes – is actually more threatening to these regimes than acting.
A perpetual state of exception has not only made war a structural condition of the
sovereign, decision making is also impossible because exception destabilizes
normative practices
Nosthoff 15 (Anna, M.A. in Sociology, Postgraduate Student, Department of Social Sciences, Johann
Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, “Normalized Exceptions and Totalized Potentials:
Violence, Sovereignty and War in the Thought of Thomas Hobbes and Giorgio Agamben”, Russian
Sociological Review, 2015. Vol. 14. No. 4, Online:
7/16, DTS)
Agamben’s examination renders it obvious that in incorporating the SoN as the included exception, the actualization of the Hobbesian
Common-Wealth rests on the nature of a form of violence, which, in modernity, goes far beyond that seemingly-envisioned by Hobbes (a
means-end-rational-punishment for the sake of the preservation of the whole).53 For
Agamben, contemporary violence is
embedded in what might be termed “bio-thanatopolitics,” i.e., an intermingling of Foucauldian biopolitical power and sovereign totalitarian violence. In introducing value into politics, “biothanatopolitics” is accompanied by a form of violence that works on an entirely different level than in Hobbes (cf.
Agamben 1998: 141). With the decision regarding the very definition of life itself having become juridical, violence here hides itself behind the
veil of creationary positivity, which makes life defined by the sovereign. For Agamben, the
reality of contemporary sovereign
politics is, thus, a politics of life and death itself, with the concepts of life and death having overcome
their past mutual exclusion. Bare life reveals itself as the indeconstructible origin lying at the core of
the social contract, being exposed to the sovereign sword of punishment. Even worse, following Agamben, the
latter reveals itself as the Damocles sword hanging over anyone,54 as the reducibility to bare life is a universal condition;
it is a form of potentiality which prevails, since its other—im-potentiality—has not succeeded in
actualizing itself. As Agamben asserts (cf. 1998: 137), contemporary sovereign politics, then, creates creatural
life, which, in being judged to be “unworthy of being lived,” can be destroyed whatsoever.55 According to
him, what we face today is the uncanniness of a politics that produces death for the sake of producing life (in the
sense of “to make live and to make die” as a radicalisation of Foucault’s biopolitical “to make live and to let die”); the hypothetically anticipated
violence whose actualization Hobbes’s “rational decider” opts against for the sake of selfpreservation has become the reality of a type of
violence that does not dare to undermine the Hobbesian first law of nature alongside the right to self-preservation. The
type of
violence Agamben has in mind finds its most violent illustration in the absolute evil of Nazi policies
conducted on so-called VPs (Versuchspersonen)56 and, certainly, the Muselmann, described by Primo Levi (1959: 101–103) as “an
anonymous mass, continuously renewed and always identical, of non-men who march[ed] and
labor[ed] in silence, the divine spark dead within them, already too empty really to suffer . . . the weak,
the inept, those doomed to selection [for the gas chambers].” For Agamben, the Nazi concentration camps serve as biothanatopolitics’ most extreme example. Respectively, he illustrates the figure of the Muselmann much in line with Adorno’s early claim, taken
from his “Meditations on Metaphysics,” that “the individual no longer died in the concentration camp, but rather the exemplar,” where the
“individual is expropriated of the final and most impoverished which remained to it.”57 Corpses here
become a matter of serial
production, with death becoming de-individualized and arbitrary. Eventually, the Nazis went as far as
to integrate the encamped in the process of producing death (Didi-Huberman and Bauman have both elaborated on
the so-called Sonderkommando in Auschwitz-Birkenau58, a group of selected encamped who were forced to work in the crematoria, they were
liquidated and replaced after approximately four months of work). For Agamben, after Auschwitz,
little has changed since
“non-men” were actively produced by the Nazis; little has been done to render impotential the
condition(s) of possibility for the emergence of the Muselmann. It is well known that Agamben found their contemporary expression
in figures such as the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay who were held in captivity under indefinite detention. However, it should be mentioned
that his analogy has always been at risk of somewhat being a generalization. Surely, his comparison to the Third Reich is problematic, and I
would agree here with Laclau that it potentially leads to a sort of “social indeterminacy.”59 However, while Agamben’s rhetoric might appear to
be not very finely nuanced in this respect, he is surely right in insistently pointing to the alarming extension of precarious lives. As we might
specify with Zygmunt Bauman (Bauman, 2013: 65f.), it is the refugees, those “ban-optically”60 surveilled, those who are encamped and
forcefully determined by an “absence
of a where to–the declared prohibition or practical impossibility of
arriving anywhere else” who are doomed to be singled out. Even if biopolitical selection mechanisms
have become subtler they are perhaps no less violent. Agamben is also right to insist that for
precarious lives to come-into- (abandoned) existence, the establishment of zones of indistinction
remains a necessary, if not a sufficient, precondition, and that this topology has turned into
contemporary global politics’ “central paradigm” (Agamben, 2014). For him, the political logic that produced 12 years of
Ausnahmezustand in the Third Reich prevails in a created threshold between life and law, and it does so in a radicalized sense: the
implementation of institutionalized exceptions has become the political’s very own condition of
possibility61 in the form of a “perpetual coup d’etat” (Agamben, 2014). In this sense, Agamben’s account illustrates
how violence itself has become structural in a radically different sense than Hobbes had envisioned or could have envisioned:
it operates through structures on the grounds of geopolitical situations requiring response
mechanisms far more complex than simple PDs. Violence is not visibly exerted by A over B; rather, it works via
mechanisms of exclusion/inclusion, or of producing life/letting (or even making) die. What is more, it
reproduces itself on normative grounds and through biopolitical dispositifs, when to govern is to manage effectively, and to manage effectively
is to carefully separate the productive from the unproductive, the People (capital P) from “people” (Agamben, 1993). Compare this focus on
productivity to (a Straussian reading of) Hobbes: the entirety of the Leviathan is focused on the question of how to avoid a violent death.62
There is little, if no mention of the effectivity of life or of the perfecting of the body politik, even if this logic might find a first visual expression
in the frontispiece of the Leviathan which seemingly unifies all individuals in one body. Biopolitics might thus be tacitly implied, yet if it is, then
it is implied negatively (avoiding a violent death is arguably different than a focus on the productivity of life). In other words, from there, it is
still a long road to travel to a utilitarian, Benthamite vision of the state as government occurring more than a century later. In Hobbes’s vision,
life was not (yet) to be made productive at the expense of some other; the question at stake was to avoid a worst-case scenario, i.e., to grant a
considerable level of security to anybody willing to consent to the contract. In other words, at the core of the Hobbesian contract still lay a
Decision (capital D) grounded on consent (and Hobbes was at least partly still concerned with respon60. Didier Bigo’s (2008: 8) concept of the
“ban-opticon” can best be described as a conflation of Agamben’s and Nancy’s concepts of the ban (as forms of being inclusively excluded) and
Foucauldian panoptical surveillance structures. Bigo accounts for the rise of a “Ban-opticon dispositif” to examine a new form of
“governmentality of unease” that, according to him, characterises the post-9/11-era: “This
form of governmentality of unease,
or Ban, is characterized by three criteria: practices of exceptionalism, acts of profiling and containing
foreigners, and a normative imperative of mobility.” dere and not solely with dicere, even though, as Agamben has shown,
a radical authoritarian potential is, by necessity, always-already latent in his conception of sovereignty). However, as Agamben (2014) clearly
asserts, it is precisely this situation that has changed entirely: “The
crisis, the judgement, is split from its temporal index
and coincides now with the chronological course of time, so that—not only in economics and
politics—but in every aspect of social life, the crisis coincides with normality and becomes, in this way,
just a tool of government. Consequently, the capability to decide once for all disappears and the
continuous decision-making process decides nothing.” In other words, the perpetual crisis undermines
our own capacity to decide, as there is no clear situation wherein a decision could be made when
faced with the merging between norm and exception. Alternatively, as Agamben (2015a) pointed out recently in an
interview, there is a different, important connotation of “crisis” in ancient medicine, which meant a decisive moment when the doctor was
confronted with the life or death of his patient. In this context, “crisis” meant judgement, and thus has an ancient connotation directly opposed
to the current praxis of enduring indecision and postponement, a divergence that is not just of terminological importance. I will expand on a
few further and more general implications related to this discussion of “crisis” in the following, concluding remarks.
Destituitive power renders sovereign power unoperative and forms new paradigms of
thought on action, praxis, and the individual subject
Agamben 13 (Giorgio, Italian philosopher, and Professor at the Università IUAV di Venezia, “What is a
Destituent Power?”, Translation: Stephanie Wakefield, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
2014, volume 32, pages 65– 74, Online:, 7/11,
It is a ‘destitution’ of this type that Benjamin imagined in the essay Critique of Violence, trying to define a form of violence
that escaped this dialectic: “on the breaking of this cycle that plays out in the sphere of the mythical
form of law, on the destitution (Entsetzung) of law with all the powers on which it depends (as they depend on
it), ultimately therefore on the destitution of state violence, a new historical epoch founds itself”
(Benjamin, 1977, page 202). Now what does “to destitute law” mean? And what is a destituent violence that is not only constitutive? Only a
power that is made inoperative and deposed is completely neutralized. Benjamin located this
‘destituent power’ in the proletarian general strike, which Sorel opposed to the simply political strike. While the suspension of
work in the political strike is violent, “because it causes (veranlasst, ‘occasions’, ‘induces’) only an extraneous
modification of working conditions, the other, as pure means, is without violence” (Benjamin, 1977, page 194).
Indeed, this does not entail the resumption of work “following external concessions and some modifications to working conditions”, but the
decision to resume only a work completely transformed and nonimposed by the state; that is, an
“upheaval that this kind of strike not so much causes (veranlasst) as realizes (vollzieht)” (page 194). The difference
between veranlassen, “to induce, to provoke”, and vollziehn, “to accomplish, to realize”, expresses the opposition between
constituent power, which destroys and always recreates new forms of law, without ever completely
destituting it, and destituent power, which, in deposing law once and for all, immediately inaugurates
a new reality. “It follows that the first of these operations is lawmaking but the second anarchic” (page
194). An example of a destituent strategy that is neither destructive nor constituent is that of Paul faced
with the question of law. Paul expresses the relationship between the messiah and the law with the verb katargein, which means to
render inoperative (argos), to deactivate (Estienne’s Thesaurus suggests, redo aergon et inefficacem, facio cessare ab opere suo,
tollo, aboleo). Thus Paul can write that the messiah “will render inoperative (katargese) all rule (potere), all authority, and
all power (potenza)” (1 Corinthians 15:24) and, at the same time, that “the messiah is the telos that is the end and
fulfillment of the law” (Romans 10:4): inoperativity and fulfillment coincide here perfectly. In another passage, he
says of the believers that they “have been rendered inoperative (katargethemen) with respect to the law” (Romans 7:5–6). The customary
translations of this verb with “to destroy, to abolish” are not correct (the Vulgate expresses it more cautiously with evacuari), all the more so
because Paul in a famous passage declares to want “to hold firm the law” (nomon istanomen—Romans 3:31). Luther, with an intuition whose
importance must not have escaped Hegel, translates katargein with aufheben; that is, with a verb that means as much “to abolish” as “to
conserve”. In any case, it
is certain that for Paul it is not a question of destroying the law, which is “holy and
just”, but of deactivating its action with regard to sin, because it is through the law that the people
know sin and desire: “I would not have known desire, if the law had not said: ‘do not desire: taking impulse from the commandment,
sin has made operative (kateirgasato, has activated) in me every desire’” (Romans 7:8). It is this operativity of the law that the
messianic faith neutralizes and renders inoperative, without thereby abolishing the law. The law “held
firm” is a law deprived of its power of command—that is, it is a law no longer of the commandments and of work (nomos
ton entolon—Ephesians 2:15; ton ergon—Romans 3:27), but of faith (nomos pisteos—Romans 3:27). And in its essence, faith is not a work, but
an experience of the word (“faith from the hearing and hearing through the word”—Romans 10:17). On the other hand, Paul, in a decisive
passage of 1 Corinthians 7, defines the Christian form of life through the formula hōs mē (as not): “But this I say, brethren, time contracted
itself, the rest is, that even those having wives may be as not having, and those weeping as not weeping, and those rejoicing as not rejoicing,
and those buying as not possessing, and those using the world as not using it up. For passing away is the figure of this world.”(6) The
not’ is a destitution without refusal. To live in the form of the as-not means to deactivate every
juridical and social property, without establishing a new identity. A form-oflife is, in this sense, that
which unrelentingly deposes the social conditions in which it finds (6)As translated in Agamben G, 2005 The Time
That Remains: A Commentary on the Letter to the Romans translated by P Dailey (Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA) page 23. 72 What is a
destituent power (or potentiality)? itself living, without negating them, but simply using them . If, writes Paul, in the
moment of the call you found yourself in the condition of the slave, do not worry: but if you would also be made free, use (chresai) your
condition of the slave (1 Corinthians 7:21). ‘Use’ names here the deposing potentiality in the Christian form of life, which destitutes “the figure
of this world (to schema tou kosmou toutou)”. It
is this destituent potentiality that both the anarchist tradition and
20th-century thought sought to define without ever actually succeeding. The destruction of tradition by
Heidegger, the deconstruction of the archē, and the fracturing of the hegemonies by Schürmann, and what, on the trail of Foucault, I have
called “philosophical archaeology”—they are all pertinent, but insufficient, attempts to return to an historical a priori in order to destitute it.
But also a good part of the practice of the artistic avant-garde and of the political movements of our time can be seen as the attempt—so often
miserably failed—to carry out a destitution of work that has ended instead with the recreation of powers even more oppressive inasmuch as
they had been deprived of any legitimacy. The
destitution of power and of its works is an arduous task, because it
is first of all and only in a form-of-life that it can be carried out. Only a form-of-life is constitutively destituent. The
Latin grammarians called deponents (depositiva, or, also, absolutive or supine) those verbs that, similar in this regard to the middle voice verbs,
cannot properly be called active or passive: sedeo, sudo, dormio, iaceo, algeo, sitio, esurio, gaudeo. What do the middle or deponent verbs
‘depose’? They do not express an operation, rather they depose it, neutralize and render it inoperative, and, in this way, expose it. The
subject is not merely, in the words of Benveniste, internal to the process, but, having deposed its action, it
is exposed and put in question together with it. In this sense, these verbs can offer the paradigm to
think in a new way not only action and praxis, but also the theory of the subject.
Liberal attempts at rehumanization are complicit in categorizations of victims as
suffering and reinforces ethnic boundaries in identity that sustain the invisible
violence against the immigrant
Zembylas 10 (Michalinos, Assistant Professor of Education at the Open University of Cyprus,
“Agamben's Theory of Biopower and Immigrants/Refugees/Asylum Seekers: Discourses of Citizenship
and the Implications for Curriculum Theorizing”, Journal of Curriculum Theorizing Vol 26, No 2 (2010),
Online: 7/2, DTS)
One of the central
strategies employed by liberal discourses of citizenship to respond to fearism is to
generate forms of recognition for immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers that work against their
identification as hate figures. Thus, there is a coupling of humanitarian and liberal values; that is, humanitarian discourses ask the
public and schools to see immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers as individuals with humanity, assuring ‘us’ (the hosts) that ‘they’ are just like
‘us.’ The strategy
of re-humanization of the Other is a pervasive one, seen especially in key professional
literature of the social studies, conflict resolution, and peace education and in the literature of non
profit and humanitarian organizations. In this discourse, normative values relating to respect, empathy and tolerance
ask ‘humanitarian’ subjects (e.g., teachers, students, the public in general) to place themselves in the position of
others (i.e., immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers) and recognize them as human beings, in ways that counter their
dehumanizing portrayals in public and the media It is usually assumed that liberal/humanitarian argumentation against the
misrecognition of immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers is a productive way of making dehumanization more difficult. However, a central
concern of this article is whether the
liberal/humanitarian response to fearism becomes in any way complicit
with the structures that legitimate the exclusion of immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers . Is it possible that
liberal/humanitarian arguments help sustain the ‘invisibility’ of immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers
insofar as they perpetuate
“the same categories of inclusion/exclusion, authentic/inauthentic, us/them, as xenophobic
discourses”? As noted earlier, immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers seem to be ‘visible’ to the public as objects of both fear and sympathy.
Other aspects of this population, however, are made ‘invisible’—for instance, granting that these
individuals are not citizens, many of their rights (e.g., work, education) are violated. In this sense,
then, their visibility as a symbol of fearism and invisibility as citizens depend on each other. This
connection highlights two major challenges to liberal/humanitarian arguments. First, the categories of ‘immigrants’,
‘refugees’ and ‘asylum seekers’ are rarely contested in liberal and humanitarian discourses of
citizenship education curricula, but rather they are taken for granted. Yet, these very concepts in their short life, as
Tyler (2006) argues, have worked to erase entire populations from view through strategies of
(mis)recognition. Seeking recognition (on behalf of the Other) is usually grounded on humanistic
representations of ‘the victims’ (e.g., photographic close–ups of faces and first–person accounts). Although such appeals can be
extremely effective in forming compassionate recognition, they are situated “within the language of the law which they nevertheless contest”.
In other words, these
appeals depend on the same categories of exclusion/inclusion, us/them as
xenophobic discourses. Interestingly, therefore, these dichotomous categories overlap with those
embedded in fearism and work together to reinforce both fear and sympathy toward
immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers. It is for this reason that Agamben does not hesitate to take the position that a failure
to question the foundations of social structures that tolerate such categorizations essentially
“maintain a secret solidarity with the very powers they ought to fight” Second, liberal/humanitarian
discourses of citizenship “are virtually impossible without recourse to identity politics” and the
preservation of bounded membership within ethnic and citizenship boundaries. Citizenship education
that is grounded in perceptions of bounded membership is still the most prevalent way that
citizenship is taught . In particular, Soysal (1994) points out that the feeling of national belonging takes precedence
to whatever precedence one happens to inhabit. Also, research on ethnic/citizenship identity, xenophobia, and stereotyping
in schools highlights notions of belonging and bounded membership. For example, some European studies raise concerns about students’
feelings of intolerance toward immigrants ; analyses of civics education curricular intent have also shown that different priorities of European
countries in relation to national and European citizenship goals create tensions about insiders and outsiders. In other words,
structures of modern sovereignty such as rights and citizenship are rarely challenged in any critical
way in citizenship education) and the consequences of their limits are not interrogated in terms of
struggling for a new political community that is more inclusive. For example, the very idea of legality (attached to
citizenship) must be opposed however, this opposition needs to be translated into material forms that increase the agency of marginalized
By emphasizing identities and differences (grounded in legal arguments) among social
groups, the politics of identity/difference diverts resources from efforts to address the unjust
material structures in which immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers find themselves and undermine the social solidarity
upon which a radical politics can be formed. There is certainly some form of utopianism in the hint for unbounded notions of
belonging and citizenship, pointing to a radicalized global village, which has no concrete basis in reality. However, ‘undoing’ the rights and
privileges of ‘western citizens’ functions as a shift away from ideological concerns (e.g., citizenship rights) toward issues of unjust material
structures and power imbalances.
Traditional risk calculus divides bodies into insiders and outsiders making data a
condition of being which reinscribes borders against marginalized identities and
Amoore and De Goede 2005 (Louise and Marieke,Louise Amoore researches and teaches in the
areas of global geopolitics and security, Marieke de Goede is Professor of Politics, with a focus on
Europe in a Global Order, at the Department of Politics of the University of Amsterdam, where she codirects the research group Transnational Configuration, Conflict and Governance, “Governance, risk and
dataveillance in the war on terror”, Springer, 2005,
Conclusions The central issue in the politics of the risk society, according to Beck (2002: 41) is “how to feign control over the uncontrollable”
(original emphasis). It is possible to argue that targeted
governance in the war on terror is one way in which control
over the uncertainties of globalization is feigned. As illustrated by Secretary Ridge: It’s truly no coincidence that the
threat to the stability and the peace of the world has coincided with the globalization of technology,
commerce, transportation and communication. The same benefits enjoyed by peace-loving, freedom-loving people across
the world are available not to terrorists, as well. (Department of Homeland Security, 2004b: 2). Risk management via targeted
governance, then, rests upon the representation of two worlds of globalization: one populated by
legitimate and civilized groups whose normalised patterns of financial, tourist and business behaviour
are to be secured; and another populated by illegitimate and uncivilized persons whose suspicious
patterns of behaviour are to be targeted and apprehended . In order that the legitimate world of profitable global
financial 168 L. AMOORE AND M. DE GOEDE transactions and business and leisure travel can remain an alluring
and enduring prospect, control over the illicit world of terrorism, trafficking or illegal immigration
must be given credence. As we have argued, the impression of policing the behaviour in the ‘illegitimate’
sphere rests upon the categorization and risk pooling of normality and suspicion, as well as problematic
dichotomies between civil and uncivil everyday practices (Amoore and Langley, 2004: 108–110). Yet, as Coutin et al. argue (2002: 803), and as
the legitimate and illegitimate spaces of globalization are more “mutually constituting
and interdependent” than is normally assumed . In the field of money laundering and terrorist finance , there is
we have illustrated,
increasing evidence that the ‘upper worlds’ and ‘underworlds’ are more closely linked and difficult to
separate than is assumed in much policy literature (van Duyne et al., 2002). Similarly, the governmental practices of
border control do not simply defend the ‘inside’ from the threats ‘outside,’ but continually produce our sense of the
insiders and outsiders in the global political economy. We have sought here to problematize the
techniques and technologies deployed to isolate and segregate the underworld of outsiders from the
upperworld of insiders.
In a system where
verification by dataveillance becomes a condition of being, it is
precisely the most subordinate and marginalized groups who will find their identities most difficult to
authenticate. From downtown banking halls to city airport terminals, the techniques of dataveillance will continually
inscribe and reinscribe a manufactured border between the licit and illicit worlds. Neglecting the
mutuality and contingency of the legitimate/illegitimate worlds of the movement of money and
peoples, however, not only serves to further marginalize the poor but also seriously underplays the extent to
which risk is deployed as a means of governing contemporary society. Of course, it suits the various players in the
homeland security market to talk up the threats and risks of the covert world. As the US business press note, “terror may be your portfolio’s
security” (Business Week Online, 2004: 14). But, our purpose here has been to challenge
the discourse of risk multiplication
and intensification that has played such a central role in both the war on terror and the booming
homeland security market . From our perspective, and following a tradition of critical thought on risk, it is not so
much that new risks have come into being, but that society has come to understand itself and its
problems in terms of risk management (De Goede, 2004; Amoore, 2004; Ewald, 1990). Among the implications of this
risk-based means of governing in the war on terror, as we have shown, is the ongoing displacement
and reallocation of risk that cannot be so easily calculated and controlled.
The US VISIT system extends the state of exception on the border to encode people
based off of “likeliness of risk” profiling and grouping people
Amoore and De Goede 2005 (Louise and Marieke, Louise Amoore researches and teaches in the
areas of global geopolitics and security, Marieke de Goede is Professor of Politics, with a focus on
Europe in a Global Order, at the Department of Politics of the University of Amsterdam, where she codirects the research group Transnational Configuration, Conflict and Governance, “Governance, risk and
dataveillance in the war on terror”, Springer, 2005,
Governing mobilities Announcing his plans for the US VISIT programme to the European policy community, US Secretary of Homeland
Security, Tom Ridge, highlighted the risks and rewards of living in a globalizing society. “As the world community has become more
connected through the globalization of technology, transportation, commerce and communication”, he explained, “the benefits of
the global economy enjoyed by each of us are available to the terrorists as well” (Department of Homeland Security,
2005: 1). Framed in this way, the problem becomes one of isolating the legitimate transborder activities of the
global economy, and segregating these from the illegitimate transnationalism of those who exploit the
possibilities of open borders. As we have argued elsewhere, following Pat O’Malley and others, the discursive deployment
of risk is closely allied to the representation of the risks and rewards of globalization (De Goede, 2004; Amoore, 2004; O’Malley, 2000). Far
from seeking to minimize or limit the risks of a globalizing society, the new penology of targeted governance rests upon
an “embracing of risk” made possible through the global integration of information technologies (Baker, 2002). The US VISIT
system deploys just such an “embracing risk” approach, appearing to hold out the possibility of
reconciling the image of porous international borders that are open for business, with the need for
security at the border (Brisbin, 2004). Accenture’s “smart border solution” to the policing of international mobilities
rests upon an electronic information-based system of risk management that engages in the “social
sorting” of people into categories of riskiness (Lyon, 2003b). As the US business press succinctly capture Accenture’s task:
Half a billion foreign visitors cross America’s borders, land at her airports, and dock at her harbors every year. Imagine trying to weed out the
criminals 162 L. AMOORE AND M. DE GOEDE and terrorists while keeping a track on everyone else as they vacation, conduct business, enrol in
college – and try to drop out of sight once they’ve overstayed their visa. (Business Week, 2004a: 32). The
“weeding out” of
criminals and terrorists from legitimate travellers is undertaken through the interfacing and
integration of over 20 existing databases. Among the most significant are: IDENT, an automatic fingerprint identification
system storing biometric data on all foreign visitors, immigrants and asylum seekers; ADIS, storing travellers’ entry and exit data; APIS,
containing passenger manifest information; SEVIS, containing data on all foreign and exchange students in the US; IBIS, a “lookout” watch list
interfaced with Interpol and national crime data; CLAIMS 3, holding
information on foreign nationals claiming benefits;
and an array of links to local law enforcement, financial systems and educational records. The integration of
these searchable databases allows the authorities to profile and encode people according to degrees of
riskiness . Accenture’s plans for computer assisted airline passenger profiling, for example, reject past systems of risk management that they
say “can really only check the single person who is walking out to the plane”. By contrast “Accenture’s system will check your associates. It will
ask if you have made international phone calls to Afghanistan, taken flying lessons, or purchased 1000 pounds of fertilizer” (cited in Business
Week, 2001: 1). As in the case of the surveillance of financial patterns of behaviour, the
assumption is that encoded risk
profiles can be used as a basis to predict future acts and behaviours. As David Lyon has put it, “the coded body
or a person who attempts to cross a national border may find that she is already welcome or already
excluded on the basis of an identity that is established by the codes” (Lyon, 2003b: 24). It is precisely this predetermining and fixing of
identities that is of central concern to privacy advocates, civil liberties organizations, and human rights groups. In April 2004 a coalition of such
organizations, including the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, National Immigration Law Center, Electronic Privacy Information
Center and American Civil Liberties Union, wrote to the Department of Homeland Security expressing their concern at the “ enormous
potential for error an violation of international human rights standards” in the US VISIT system.10 Of particular
concern was the
open question of what happens to people who come up as “hits” on the various
databases and how a “false hit” can be challenged . As one EPIC representative put the problem: “these technologies are
assumed to provide a complete picture of who someone is – leaving people having to dispute their own identity”.11 In these terms the US VISIT
system far exceeds Accenture’s “recording” of entry and exit of non-US citizens and “matching” GOVERNANCE, RISK AND DATAVEILLANCE IN
THE WAR ON TERROR 163 of people to their travel documents and visas (Accenture digital forum 2004: 2). Rather, by
encoding people
with a pre-determined identity and assuming that high-tech identification process to be indisputable,
US VISIT engages in what has been called “the legitimation work of globalization,” the everyday work
of “issuing and denying documents, sealing and opening records, regulating and criminalizing
transactions, and repudiating and claiming countries and persons (Coutin et al., 2002: 804). The risk management
system sold to the US government, then, is more appropriately described as a risk displacement system. The virtual border envisaged by Smart
Border Alliance and the Department of Homeland Security becomes actual in the lives of migrants who experience ever greater uncertainty in
their lives. De Genova’s reading of the US-Mexico border, for example, describes the border as the “exemplary theatre for staging the spectacle
of the illegal alien” (2002: 436). US-VISIT leaves open the possibility of entrance to the US for non-business/ non-global economy travel, for
example by Mexican workers, but with the proviso of the ongoing surveillance of Accenture’s virtual border which will come into play in
spheres from money and banking, to medical care, insurance and housing. The border thus becomes a mobile phenomenon that allows entry to
the physical space of the US without offering open entrance to the social, political and legal space of the US. In a very real sense, the mastery of
border risks by governments and their business and technology partners is undertaken on the back of the intensification and reallocation of risk
onto the most vulnerable groups. Biometrics and bodies The deployment of electronic personal data in order to classify and govern the
movement of people across borders can be captured under the rubric of dataveillance (Clarke et al., 1994). Yet the US
VISIT programme
extends the use of integrated personal data into biometrics, a move that signals what Levi and Wall
have called a “new politics of surveillance ” (2004: 194). The US Patriot Act introduced a set of practices for
the use of biometrics that have become the technology standard for US VISIT. In effect the US VISIT system
converges integrated databases with biometric identifiers such as electronic fingerprints, iris scans and facial recognition. Though the actual
implementation of biometric identifiers has been beset with problems – leading the DHS to drop the requirement for biometric passports by
October 2004, for example –
the seductive allure of biometric data in the governance of mobility has taken a
strong hold on public and private authorities (, 2004). The seduction comes from the human body
being seen as an indisputable anchor 164 L. AMOORE AND M. DE GOEDE to which data can be safely secured. What Irma van der
Ploeg has observed as a “gradually extending intertwinement of individual physical characteristics with information systems” (2003: 58), has
served to deepen the faith in data as a means of risk management. “In a world of identity politics and risk management”, argues David Lyon,
“surveillance is turning decisively to the body as a document for identification, and as a source for prediction” (Lyon, 2001: 72). In the US VISIT
programme the use of biometric technologies as a source of identification and prediction is taking two important turns. The first is to seek to
annex “low risk” travellers via the use of voluntary systems of biometric submission. As the Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge explains:
A fingerprint or iris scan is all that is needed for quick passenger identification and expedited processing through security. I’ve enrolled in the
program myself, and I can tell you that it is a great tool that helps move low risk travellers more efficiently so that resources can be focused
elsewhere, where the need is greater (Department of Homeland Security, 2005: 1). Tom Ridge’s participation in the US Air Transportation
biometrics is being used in a process of “risk pooling ” (Heimer, 2002), whereby individuals classified in a
Association’s ‘Registered Traveller’ project, which uses Unisys technology to link frequent fliers to a biometric database, suggests
similar risk category are grouped together for common treatment – in this case for swift passage through security
checks. However, in populations targeted for higher risk pools the electronic connection of data to bodies
is more invasive and the surveillance intensified. Regular commercial travellers across the Mexico–US border, for example,
can submit biometric information in order to fast-track the security check point. Unlike Mr Ridge’s frequent traveller card, however, the smart
cards used at the US–Mexico border may be radio frequency identification enabled (RFID), making them, at least in theory, trackable within the
Such faith in the ability of biometric data to secure identity is playing a central role in the war on
terror at the border . As exemplified by Mike Davis, director of FBI criminal justice services, when he informed a
European conference of technology companies that “ the
only way to trace a terrorist is through biometrics”,
reassuring them that “we are obtaining DNA from terrorists around the world as we encounter them”
(cited in The Guardian, June 18, 2004: 17). Leaving aside the question of the somewhat improbable nature of such a scenario, Mr Davis’s belief
that “ the
war on terror has come to rely on biometric technology” raises a number of questions. The first concerns
GOVERNANCE, RISK AND DATAVEILLANCE IN THE WAR ON TERROR 165 the purposes for which biometric data is collected and deployed.
Despite assurances by the DHS that the US VISIT system will not be in breech of international privacy laws limiting access to personal data, it
seems that
biometric data systems are being traded precisely on the grounds that multiple agencies can
have networked access . Western police and intelligence agencies have drawn up plans to share
biometric information, such that US VISIT biometric requirements become a Trojan horse for their
introduction elsewhere. As Accenture are keen to point out, “the US VISIT contract is a key win in a climate
where other countries on the front line of terrorism are interested in similar programmes” (Accenture press
release, 2004: 1). Plans in the UK to link a biometric ID card to US VISIT compliant passports, for example, suggest that there is a trend
towards linking the governance of international mobility to national systems of biometric
identification (Lyon, 2004). Our second question concerns the representation of biometric technologies as infallible and unchallengeable
verifiers of the truth about a person. The linking of biometrics to integrated databases not only appears to make
the identification of a person beyond question, but also lends authenticity and credibility to all of the
data that is connected to that identity. Treated as a scientific, neutral and “smart” solution to the problem of establishing
identity, biometrics become discrete entities that can be parcelled up, contracted out, integrated, applied and innovated. Yet, rather than
being a secure anchor to the human body, biometric technology represents an “informatization of the
body,” part of a process in which technologies are themselves incorporated into the bodily experience (van der Ploeg, 2003; see also Thrift,
2004). It is important, then, to challenge and destabilize the apparent security of the biometrics-body link, to point to the fallibility of
technologies, as well as to the agency that is enacted as “technologies tend to take on a life of their own” (Levi and Wall, 2004: 204).
Rapid expansion of border patrol initiatives and agents has trapped immigrants in a
position of bare life – to either die in an attempt to cross or be exploited through their
position of illegality
Doty 10 (Roxanne, School of Politics and Global Studies, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Arizona
State, “Bare life: border-crossing deaths and spaces of moral alibi”, Environment and Planning D: Society
and Space, Vol 29, Issue 4, pp. 599 – 612, Online:, 7/5, DTS)
Before considering how this phenomenon has played out in US border control strategies I want to highlight two interrelated issues that are
addressed somewhat peripherally or implicitly by Foucault but that are key when it comes to examining border politics and policies. First is the
issue of citizenship. Foucault's
writings refer to the population, but clearly the population is not a
monolithic, all encompassing entity. Foucault's writings on biopolitics can and have been interpreted
to mean the local or national population thus lending credence to the criticism of his neglect of the
international. However, as noted earlier, when his ideas are put to work in the arena of border policies, the international looms large, and
it becomes clear that the definition of who is part of the `the population' and who is not is to a great extent what is at stake. So the issue of
citizenship and the citizen is vitally important.(9) For
the citizen to live, the undocumented must be permitted to die.
Those lacking citizenship are potentially bare life.(10) The second issue that warrants consideration is how Foucault
understands race. Foucault asks, `` (Foucault, 2003, page 254). However, he is vague on precisely What in fact is racism?'' and
refers to the appearance of distinctions, a hierarchy amongst races, and racism's inscription within the
state what race is. I am not suggesting that this imprecision needs to be corrected or that it is a lacuna in Foucault's writings. I call attention
to this so as to maintain a space for an understanding of race that can incorporate `differentialist' or `neoracism', which is highly significant in
understanding how race enters into contemporary border politics. Nation,
citizen, and race have been historically
intertwined in complex ways that are virtually impossible to unravel. This is clearly illustrated in contemporary
immigration policies in the United States and throughout the world. The origins of the `prevention through deterrence'
strategy nicely illustrate connections between the local, national, and global/international and
highlight how policies designed for the management of populations at local levels cannot always be
considered solely local or national issues. More than this, though, the very distinctions between local, national, and
international can be a key aspect of such policies. Three
government efforts of the early 1990s that can arguably be
considered examples of biopolitics were key to the beginnings of the US border blockade: (1)
Operation Blockade/Hold the Line in El Paso, Texas, in 1993; (2) the passage of Proposition 187 in
California in 1994; and (3) Operation Gatekeeper in the San Diego/Tijuana area 1994.(11) All of these were, in
various ways, focused on issues pertaining to the population and were ostensibly very local in nature. However, they were ultimately intimately
connected to the international and to reinforcing the boundaries between the two. The
process of enacting such a
reinforcement involved attempts to define precisely who constituted the population. Operation Blockade
began far from the center of sovereign US power in the relatively isolated area of El Paso, Texas, which is located at the tip of West Texas.
Surrounded by desert, this area in 1993 was the second busiest sector for undocumented border crossings. The busiest was the San Diego
sector. Silvester Reyes, the Border Patrol chief of the El Paso sector, unilaterally launched Operation Blockade on 19 September 1993, deploying
400 agents and their vehicles along a 20-mile stretch of the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (Nevins, 2010, page 111). Prior
to this the border patrol strategy had been to apprehend unauthorized entrants after they had crossed the border. This meant that hundreds of
thousands who were suspected of being undocumented migrants were stopped every year. Most of those stopped were El Paso residents of
Hispanic appearance. Not surprisingly, this led to charges of racial profiling (Dunn, 2009, page 12). With Operation Blockade, apprehensions
dropped 80 ^ 90%. The strategy received much favorable national publicity and was quickly replicated in October 1994 with Operation
Gatekeeper in San Diego, California (Nevins, 2010, page 111). The local situation in California was also a significant factor leading up to
Operation Gatekeeper, specifically the debates over and eventual passage of Proposition 187, also known as the Save Our State ballot initiative.
Proposition 187 was an antiimmigrant measure that proposed to deny public education from elementary to postsecondary levels, social
services, and public health care (excluding emergencies) to unauthorized immigrants. It was passed by 59% of California's electorate. The
proposition resulted from the efforts of local immigration control groups in California as well as the national antiimmigrant organization,
Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR)(12) National level politics were also key factors leading to the border build up of the early 1990s. The
antiimmigrant backlash loomed as a potential threat to then President Bill Clinton's reelection. Gatekeeper was followed by Operation
Safeguard in central Arizona in 1995, which ``redirected illegal border crossings away from urban areas near the Nogales port-of-entry to
comparatively open areas'' (National Border Patrol, 2000). Operation Rio Grande was launched in south Texas in 1997, which encompasses
McAllen, Brownsville, and Laredo (National Border Patrol, 2000). Border Patrol agents are not the only aspect of US border control strategy. The
strategy also includes technology and infrastructure.(13) Prevention through deterrence has thus expanded to include virtual fencing, a planned
670-mile long physical border fence/wall, and various high-tech surveillance devices on or near the border. More
recently called
`Secure Border Initiative', the latest strategy continues and expands prevention through deterrence,
focusing on even more border patrol agents; upgrading technology, including increased manned aerial
assets; expanded use of UAV's (unmanned aerial vehicles); and increased investment in infrastructure with
additional ``physical layers'' of security and more access roads for the border patrol to facilitate
quicker responses.(14) As Foucault notes, apparatuses of security associated with biopower have a tendency to expand. Such
apparatuses are centrifugal allowing for the development of ever-wider circuits (2009, page 45) This has
certainly been the case with `prevention through deterrence'.(15) The US Border Patrol is now the US federal government's largest law
enforcement agency. This
expansion consists not only of broadening the range of strategies for controlling
the border on the part of the US government but also the expansion of surveillance and monitoring of
the border into the ostensibly `private' realm. A major aspect of the Secure Border Initiative is SBInet, which consists of a
network of surveillance towers with radar and cameras. In September 2006 the Boeing Corporation won the $70 million DHS contract to
develop and build the towers and monitor its subcontractors. Putting these into practice involves Boeing personnel in the actual monitoring of
the border As the various surveillance mechanisms, from agents to high-tech equipment, were put into place, they have collectively contributed
to the increase in migrant deaths. Robin Hoover of Humane Borders has measured the locations where migrant bodies have been found, and
they are further and further away from populated areas. ``The migrants are walking in more treacherous terrain for longer periods of time, and
you should expect more deaths'', he says.(17) The
significance of prevention through deterrence in terms of the
techniques of biopower can be found in the fact that it has not, nor arguably was it ever intended, to
completely eliminate unauthorized immigration (Nevins, 2010, page 114). Like the border policies prior to it, prevention
through deterrence was in part a `border game', rife with symbolic power which functioned to
reaffirm the significance of the boundary between Mexico and the United States and at the same time
asserted/reasserted the sovereignty of the latter.(18) However, it inaugurated a new intensity in that
US border policies became much more than a symbolic game in the sense that crossing the border
without authorization now became an extremely dangerous proposition in which death lurked in
every new migrant crossing route, through formidable mountain ranges and along desolate, heat-
scorched desert lands. In terms of the operation(s) of power, the significance of this new border strategy lies in a subtle shift from the
dominance of sovereign, juridical power to biopower. I say `subtle' because I do not mean to suggest that juridical power and biopower are
opposed to one another. Clearly, they work together in this case, and it is a matter of emphasis that I am suggesting here. Juridical power
intensified the US border enforcement regime. However,
biopower is clearly evident as the newly intensified
enforcement regime produced a radical exposure for migrants which stripped them of their humanity
and permitted their killing without punishment. In an effort to reduce the probability of some migrants successfully crossing
the border and thereby deter others from attempting to cross, prevention through deterrence depended on some
human beings being constituted as bare life. The key division involves the creation of bare life, ie the differentiation between
those who can be sacrificed for the well-being (or perceived well-being) of others and those whose well-being is ostensibly promoted. Those
whose well-being is promoted are the ones who claim that migrants are swamping their country and
who clamor for `control of our borders', as well as those who benefit directly and indirectly from the
labor of the migrants who successfully cross. Juridical power obviously does not recede completely,
but rather works in tandem with biopower. Foucault's distinction between the population and the multiplicity of individuals is
relevant here. The multiplicity of individuals will ``only be pertinent to the extent that, properly managed, maintained, and encouraged, it will
make possible what one wants to obtain at the level that is pertinent'' (Foucault, 2009, page 44). Prevention through deterrence seeks to do
just this with the multiplicity of individuals who attempt to cross the US Mexico border without authorization. `Management' is simply not the
concentrated, focused kind of management found with disciplinary power, but is more consistent with Foucault's notion that the apparatus of
security `lets things happen', albeit after certain policies/strategies are in place (page 45).
The USCIS can require biometrics for individuals seeking citizenship
USCIS 16 (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration
system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for
immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.
“Preparing for Your Biometric Services Appointment,” Last Reviewed/Updated: 12/19/2016, Accessed
7.4.18, ) //ZoL
has the general authority to require and collect biometrics (fingerprints, photograph, and/or
digital signature) from any applicant, petitioner, sponsor, beneficiary, or other individual residing in the United States for any
immigration and naturalization benefit . See 8 CFR 103.2 (b)(9).
Biometrics are ethically questionable – Reducing the person to a state of bare life
Mordini and Massari 08 (EMILIO MORDINI, is a leading keynote speaker, and has extensively published in academic peer
reviewed publications and edited various books. He chairs Responsible Technology, a Paris based consultancy devoted to Responsible Research
and Innovation (RRI) and anticipatory governance. Emilio is Associate Researcher at the Haifa University Health and Risk Communication Center
and Academic Supervisor at the Certificate of Advanced Studies “Biometrics & Privacy” – Universitäre Fernstudien Schweiz, and SONIA
MASSARI, is director of the Gustolab Institute, Center for Food Studies, and academic and program director of the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, Rome Center. She is the 2014 recipient of NAFSA's Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship Knowledge Community (TLS KC)
Innovative Research in International Education award, “Body, Biometrics and Identity.” Bioethics, Vol. 22, Issue 9, pp. 488-498, November 2008.
Available at SSRN: or ) //ZoL
INFORMATIZATION OF THE BODY Together with function creep, informatization of
the body is the other general issue that
concerns biometric ethics. Scholars speak of ‘informatization of the body’ to point out the digitalization of physical and behavioral
attributes of a person and their distribution across the global information network.48 According to a popular aphorism, biometrics are
turning the human body into a passport or a password. As usual, aphorisms say more than they intend. Taking the dictum
seriously, we would be two: our self and our body. Who are we, if we are not our body? And what is our body without
us? Briefly, at the core of the notion of ‘informatization of the body’ there is a concern for the ways in which digitalization of physical
features 49 may affect the representation of ourselves and may produce processes of ‘disembodiment’.
While privacy advocates and civil liberty organizations are concerned with the risk of function creep, philosophers are often
concerned with informatization of the body, because it would touch our inner nature, the ‘human
essence’. Biometric systems digitalize physical appearances and behaviors in order to process them. The
passage from analogical to digital representations is not a trivial one, because digital representations always imply a certain degree of
simplification, which modifies the nature of the represented object. By
digitalizing representations of body parts and
behaviors, biometric technologies tends to remove from them all dimensions but those which are
relevant to recognition. Ideally, biometrics aims to turn persons into mere living objects, which can be measured and matched with
similar living objects. This leads to the dramatic contrast between zoe and bios, natural life and political life.
Ancient Greeks had two words for life, zoe and bios. Zoe is the life common to animals, humans, and gods, just life.
Bios is life that is particular to humans, particular because it is life in the human context, with meanings
and purposes . The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has argued that there are times when rulers create
indistinct zones between human life (bios) and bare life (zoe). Agamben, following Carl Schmitt and Walter
Benjamin, calls these times ‘states of exception’ . In states of exception, humans are stripped of all
meanings except the fact they have life, and that life, like the life of an animal, can be taken at any point
without it being considered murder, as happened in the concentration camps. In January of 2004, Giorgio
Agamben cancelled a trip to the United States, protesting the dictates of the US-Visit program – which requires persons entering the US to be
photographed, fingerprinted and registered in the US biometric database. Then Agamben50 wrote a brief essay explaining why he would not
enter what he describes as a state of exception and martial law. Agamben
stated that biometrics was akin to the tattooing
that the Nazis did during World War II. The tattooing of concentration camp victims was rationalized as
‘the most normal and economic’ means of regulating large numbers of people. With this logic of utility
applied during a similar state of exception in the United States today, the US-Visit’s biopolitical tattooing
enters a territory which ‘could well be the precursor to what we will be asked to accept later as the
normal identity registration of a good citizen in the state’s gears and mechanisms’.51 Agamben envisages
the reduction to bare bodies for the whole humanity .52 For him, a new bio-political relationship between
citizens and the state is turning citizens into pure biological life; and biometrics herald this new world .
Geographic circumstances allow US to elide moral responsibility justifying states of
Doty 10 (Roxanne, School of Politics and Global Studies, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Arizona
State, “Bare life: border-crossing deaths and spaces of moral alibi”, Environment and Planning D: Society
and Space, Vol 29, Issue 4, pp. 599 – 612, Online:, 7/5, DTS)
Geographic space clearly figures prominently in prevention through deterrence as it does in any strategy for controlling the territory of a
sovereign nation-state. However, space,
including geographic space, is not a fixed, apolitical, or neutral object
that is simply there. Rather, landscapes and the geographical spaces in which they are situated are
implicated in the use of power and are themselves products of coercion, struggle, and resistance. That
said, I believe that it is important to acknowledge that while space itself and the significance attributed to it may be
the result of social and political practices, the raw physicality of some natural environments have an
inherent power which can be put to use and can function to mask the workings of social and political
power. In the case of US border control strategy, geographic space has made it possible to suggest
that the consequences in the form of migrant deaths result from `natural causes' eg, extreme heat,
dehydration, thirst, or exposure to the elements thus deflecting official responsibility. Prevention
through deterrence created numerous spaces of exceptionalism that relied heavily on such geographic
spaces. US border control strategies have turned and continue to turn much of the southwestern
border areas into spaces of exception, and those who traverse them potentially into bare life. Many of
these areas are commonly referred to as `killing fields'. The US Customs and Border Patrol itself uses the term
`corridor of death' to describe parts of the Sonoran Desert that extends from Mexico's state of Sonora
into the US state of Arizona. Most of these spaces are located far from the urban areas that in the past had been popular crossing
spots eg, San Diego and El Paso though many of these spaces are amazingly close to centers of population. For example, Ana Rosa SeguraMarcial, a fifteen-year-old girl, crossed the border near Agua Prieta, Mexico/Douglas, Arizona, on 9 August 2002. Her body was found three
days later in an orange grove south of Gilbert, Arizona, on the outskirts of Phoenix, one of the major metropolitan areas in the United States.
The ``Yuma 14'' who perished in May of 2001 were at various times during their journey amazingly close to population centers, though they
would have had no way of knowing this. Thus,
Agamben's `camp' becomes the vast and varied migrant crossing
areas, not limited to any specific demarcated or confined space though `grounded' so to speak in
specific geographic terrains. The natural geography of migrant crossing areas provides a convenient
moral alibi in terms of where to locate responsibility for the deaths. State officials can simply let
`nature take its course'. As Cornelius points out, the logic of US immigration policy was that if the major gateways such as the El Paso
and San Diego areas could be controlled, ``geography would do the rest''. Policy makers would argue that the deaths that have resulted from
prevention through deterrence are `unintended consequences' and that the intention was to deter migrants from crossing, not to subject them
to the high probability of death. However, an
argument can be made that the concept of `unintended
consequences' functions much as geography does; ie as a moral alibi to shun official responsibility for
migrant deaths. The logic of the policy actually depends on the possibility of deaths and would be
meaningless in the absence of this possibility. Johnson argues that this border control operation ``was
deliberately formulated to maximize the physical risks for Mexican migrant workers, thereby ensuring
that hundreds of them would die''. Behind the theory lay a technology of the human body and the limits of its physical endurance.
While this may have remained unspoken, the horrors of a human body without sufficient water was
absolutely essential to the success of prevention through deterrence. Other hazards such as the
terrain itself and the difficulty of traversing it, the extreme cold of the desert nights, drowning in the
water that rushes through canals, and so on could also act as deterrents, but the summer heat is the
big killer. It is physically impossible for most people to carry a sufficient amount of water. Writer John
Annerino recorded his own body's requirement for fluid when he made a 130-mile trek along Camino del Diablo for six days. The minimum he
consumed in one day was two gallons but, on several days he drank as much as five gallons). In 1999 the American Civil Liberties Union of San
Diego and Imperial Counties and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation filed a petition before the InterAmerican Commission on
Human Rights on behalf of 350 migrants who had died in unauthorized entries into the United States during the implementation of Operation
Gatekeeper. The petition argued that US authorities were aware that US border enforcement strategies placed migrants in mortal danger and
that they had failed to develop any effective response to the mounting death toll. There is a distinctly racial element to this bare life so
constructed by US immigration enforcement. In fiscal year 2005, a record year for migrant deaths in the desert, the Coalicio¨n de Derechos
Humanos in conjunction with the Consular offices of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Brazil issued a report on border-crossing
deaths. Of the 282 recorded deaths 138 were from Mexico, 2 were from Guatemala, and the rest were unknown. While
one may argue
that it stands to reason that the number of deaths of Mexicans and Central Americans would be high
in that they constitute the majority of unauthorized border crossers, this does not negate the fact that
a certain racialized group(s) suffers the most severe consequences of US border policies which have
dehumanized them and denied them ``the right to have rights.'' Unauthorized migrants have come to constitute what
Balibar refers to as the ``radically excluded'' who are denied the material conditions of life and recognition of their humanity. They are, in
a word, bare life, life that does not deserve to live and that is taken in remote hinterlands of the vast
southwestern deserts of the United States. The geographical spaces offer a potentially endless
deferral of human responsibility.
Border reduces to homo sacer
Amoore 05 (Louise, Louise Amoore researches and teaches in the areas of global geopolitics and
security. She has particular interests in how contemporary forms of data, analytics and risk management
are changing the techniques of border control and security, “Biometric Borders: Governing Mobilites in
the war on terror”, May 2005, Political Geography 25, )/AK47
Conclusions: life and death at the biometric border I have argued
that the biometric border signals a dual move in the
contemporary politics of the war on terror: a significant turn to scientific and
managerial techniques in governing the
mobility of bodies; and an extension of biopower such that the body, in effect, becomes the carrier of
the border as it is inscribed with multiple encoded boundaries of access. At the time of writing, the response to
the July 2005 London bombings suggests renewed political fervour for the biometric border in the UK, with proposed new terror laws
encompassing biometric immigration cards and calls for an acceleration of the US VISIT style European e-borders programme. As in the opening
citation of this article, the
response to the London attacks has indeed been that ‘there ought to be a way of
solving any problem through science and law’. Yet, it is in the tragic death of Brazilian immigrant, Jean Charles de Menezes,
killed by police officers engaged in the more ‘old fashioned’ stake-out surveillance of a block of flats, that we find some of the most
stark political implications of risk profiling in the war on terror. In the aftermath of the Metropolitan Police’s
admission that they had mistakenly shot dead Mr. de Menezes on Stockwell underground station in the course of their antiterror operations, the debate turned to questions of identity, status and profiling. In effect, once it became clear
that de Menezes could not be represented as the terrorist embodiment of bare life, a struggle began
to reposition his ‘otherness’ as that of the illegal immigrant. The discovery that Jean Charles’ student visa may have
expired two years previously led to questions surrounding his ‘legality’. Disputes emerged as to whether or not he was ‘wearing a bulky jacket’
in hot weather or had ‘jumped the ticket barrier’ (‘‘Brazilian Did’’, 2005) e presumably seen as profiles of suspicious behaviour that may have
led the officer to shoot to kill. In
the moment of the decision to shoot to kill we see something of the logic of
the profiling of suspicious behaviour that underpins the logic of the biometric border. The distinction,
though, is that (despite lost CCTV footage that could have, paradoxically, exposed his ‘normal’ gait and denim jacket and his use of the
frequent traveller’s Oyster card), this killing of Homo Sacer is visible in a way that the multiple deaths that will
undoubtedly occur at the biometric border are not. When the integrated databases of US VISIT reach
a moment of decision based on patterns of behaviour, these will not be in public view, even to the
limited extent that de Menezes’ death is visible. The biometric border envisages drawing a clear, clean
and unambiguous line between legitimate/low risk and illegitimate/high risk mobilities (a line that cannot be drawn, but is always
in process of being drawn). Within the logic of the biometric border, the immigrant risks, in an acute and
absolute sense, being profiled as a terrorist, particularly if he has no papers. De Genova (2002, p. 436) has
depicted the border as ‘the exemplary theatre for staging the spectacle of the ‘‘illegal alien’’ that the law
produces’. Within the war on terror, the biometric border is, at least potentially, staging that spectacle on the railway platform, the
subway, the city street, the vehicle license bureau, and so on. Read in this way the border becomes a condition of being that
is always in the act of becoming, it is never entirely crossed, but appears instead as a constant
demand for proof of status and legitimacy. The biometric border performs something, then, of Agamben’s
(1998, p. 8) ‘ bare life’ in which living is reduced to calculability, to the ‘life of homo sacer. who may be
killed and yet not sacrificed’ . The establishment of verifiable identity at the biometric border thus
becomes a condition of being, in the sense of living within a particular society or way of life, if not indeed a
condition of life itself. I have argued throughout this paper that the biometric border implicates us all in the governing of
mobility and in the profiling of suspicious behaviour. It does so via the promise of happiness and security and a world rid
of ambiguity and uncertainty. The war on terror not only separates ‘our war’ from ‘their terror’, but also ‘our globalization’ of
legitimate and civilized business and leisure travel from ‘their globalization’ of trafficking and illegal
migration. The distinction is, of course, a feigned divide. Consider, for example, the many ways in which the category of
migrant illegality actively supports the ‘legitimate’ worlds. Buried in the newspaper reports of Jean Charles de Menezes’ death was the
background information that he had been working as a contract electrician and, the night before the shooting, as a night porter in a London
Where the biometric border promises invulnerability through the risk profiling of categories of
people, we might begin our critique by reflecting on the ways in which the low risk practices of our
daily lives are wrapped up in the high risks borne in the lives of others .
The border is a unique and perpetual state of exception – Unethical and omnipresent
Salter 08 (Mark B. Salter, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada, “When the
exception becomes the rule: borders, sovereignty, and citizenship,” Published online: 01 Jul 2008,
Accessed 7.2.18, Citizenship Studies, 12:4, 365-380, )
It is important to place borders within their spatio-historical context because of two prevailing hypotheses about the ‘bounding of the
bordering process’ prevalent in both critical geography and international relations theories. Newman argues, ‘It
bordering, rather than the border line
per se, that
is the process of
has universal significance in the ordering of society. All
borders share a common function to the extent that they include some and exclude many others’
(2003, p. 15).
This focus on the bordering process resists both the vapid suggestions that borders are disappearing or that borders are hardening or
‘rebordering’. But the largesse of Newman’s claim, productive as it may be for border studies in casting a wide net to all bordering processes,
fails to differentiate between sovereign borders and other types of borders. Exclusion
from a cultural, economic, or social
space may have important and political consequences. For this reason, it is important to differentiate borders and
checkpoints (such as those in the Occupied Palestinian Territories): borders represent a legal admission by a sovereign into the domain of
his/her authority and protection; checkpoints are not (Parsons and Salter forthcoming).8 I would argue that the exclusion from the protection
of the sovereign state (including the failure to protect refugees), is of a different quality. Entry
is a moment of crisis – a moment
of absolute surrender to the sovereign power of the state, within a particular governmental machinery
of border, customs, and immigration officers. The decision by the state is fundamentally an admission
into the legal contract of the state, which differentiates it from other kinds of decisions (such as admission to a
club, a corporation, an organization, or a space). Or, to put it another way, all decisions to exclude are political, but the
decision to exclude from the state is the domain of sovereign politics. Similarly, Balibar has argued that ‘the
border is everywhere’ (2002, p. 80).9 But border functions occur at specific sites. It is analytically important to separate
processes of social sorting, surveillance, self-policing from the bordering process of suppliance in the face an admission/expulsion decision
(Lyon 2002). In other words, I want to retain something specific about the border – and in particular the border inspection (see Lugo 2000,
Salter 2006). At
the border, there is no ethic of hospitality which precedes the examination of citizenship,
unlike at other institutions. This is an important supplement to Foucauldian analyses of institutions – even if the function of
the clinic, the prison, the military hospital, is control, there is an ethic of care or and ethic of hospitality
in whose name those managerial/punitive functions are administered. At the clinic, there is an ethic of care that
precedes the citizenship test; in the courts, there is an ethic of truth that precedes the citizenship test; at the prison, there is an ethic of
rehabilitation that coincides with punishment.
The only ‘ethic’ which governs the border is the Machiavellian
‘virtue’ of security – which is a narrative of sovereign protection that obscures the running state of
exception at the border.10
States of exception are founded on affective responses of culture
Norman 18 (Ludvig, Research Fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Lecturer at
Uppsala University and Senior Fellow at the Institute of European Studies at UC Berkeley, “Theorizing
the social foundations of exceptional security politics: Rights, emotions and community”, Cooperation
and Conflict 2018, Vol. 53(1) 84–100, Online:, 7/9, DTS)
Exceptional security measures are intimately associated with the violation of fundamental rights.
Addressing questions of what drives exceptional security politics requires a clear conceptualization of what rights are, and equally important
what rights mean in particular social settings (cf. Somers and Roberts, 2008). Here
rights are conceptualized provisionally as
the codified set of rules that both regulate and to some extent constitute social relations in the
context of a society. This conceptualization straddles the line between two notions, one associated with the universal aspect of rights
underlying liberal democracy, and the other symbolic and performative aspect of rights associated with recognition, status, belonging and
collective emotions. The
link between rights and emotions relies on the idea that emotions are shaped by
culturally produced meanings and embedded in specific social and political contexts. Here, rights are
associated with collective emotions by the way that they help delineate the boundaries of political
communities in terms of who belongs and who does not. While not denying how emotions emerge from particular
bodies, emotions are also ‘formed and structured by particular social and cultural environments [and]
constituted in relation to culturally specific traditions’. This is not to say that social context determines how individuals
feel, nor that emotional states are fixed and unchangeable (Ross, 2014). Rather the argument here is that social context conditions which
emotions are reinforced and reproduced in particular settings. Following Mercer, collective identities and emotions depend on each other.
Strong collective identities constructed around pervasive shared understandings condition the
emergence of ‘emotional’ consensus, also by reinforcing confidence in the appropriateness of
particular emotional responses. The link between identity and emotion supplies the basis for understanding how compromising
rights in the name of security is made possible. Exceptional politics are ultimately defined in relation to a specific body of legally codified rights
and procedures. The
symbolic aspect of rights helps explain why exceptional security politics often garner
such broad public support despite their apparent contradictions to liberal democratic rights. Two central
aspects of rights can be highlighted. Firstly, rights in liberal political theory are primarily treated as a question of
formal guarantees to enjoy protection and the ability to realize individual goals. Right to due process,
equality before the law, property and privacy rights are central pillars of liberal democracy. The
codification of these rights in primary or secondary law is a defining characteristic of such political
orders. The very strength of this conception of rights resides in the fact that it does not make them dependent on particular contexts.
Instead, rights are conceptualized as universal. They supply the limits within which politics needs to
remain, even in times of crisis. Hence, rights are not thought of in terms of the meanings that are
imputed on them by agents or the emotions they might induce. The second aspect of rights instead highlight their
concrete application in social and political settings. Sociologists of rights have shown, how legal rights become intelligible also
by attending to how they are bound up with particularist institutions, such as that of citizenship and
more informal cultural membership. Thus, apart from the civic–juridical aspect of rights there are also a second layer here
associated to the ‘right to have rights’. It is this aspect of boundary-drawing that connects rights to identity and
political subjectivity and, in doing so, to collective emotions. The access to rights thus has an important symbolic
aspect, and is intrinsically related to belonging. Such access can be regarded as a formalization of social hierarchies
and status and affirms individuals’ sense of self-worth. Rights from this perspective serve as the link
between private and collective emotions and are part of the ‘processes that render emotions
political’. This perspective on rights helps conceptualize how exceptional measures are underpinned by processes of positive reinforcement,
in contrast to perspectives awarding a primary role to fear for the production of political subjectivities. Without
discounting the
possibility that fear plays a role, ‘positive’ emotions become important as rights are associated with
recognition of status and a sense of belonging. Mercer (2014) has referred to such emotional dynamics as ‘social
emotions’, emotions that involve relationships with, for instance, a group or community involving
things that agents deem intrinsically important, such as ‘status, power, justice, or feelings of
attachment’. In times of perceived crisis links between feelings of belonging and a system of codified
rights are made explicit as exceptional security measures often entail changes in the very distribution
of rights. To unpack these claims further, a body of rights can partly be seen as a system for recognition of the
individual agents belonging to a social entity, such as a political community. Rights are always rights for
someone. The distribution of access to rights reproduces the underlying and often tacit reasons for why
the access to rights is distributed the way it is. It is a constant reminder of the substance and the limits of the community as a
whole. Rights thus have a performative aspect, as they serve as the formalized expressions of specific
communities that are bound by a set of collective self-understandings and emotional attachments. The
distribution of rights serves as a reference point for collective emotional attachments. Exceptional security politics highlights the relation
between rights and collective emotions, by redefining the access to rights. The dual concept of rights is central for understanding the social
processes involved in the enactment and implementation of exceptional security practices. This does not mean that the distribution of rights is
the only, or necessarily the primary way in which, ‘social emotions’ are produced.
New security policies on immigration poses humanity as a threat reinscribing
biopolitical control and extending the state of exception
Agamben 2008 (Giorgio, Agamben was educated in law and philosophy at the University of Rome,
“No to Biopolitical Tattooing”, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies Vol. 5, No. 2, June 2008,
The newspapers have made it clear: from now on, visitors
who enter the United States on a visa will have their
fingerprints and photograph filed by immigration authorities. Personally, I have no intention of submitting myself to
such procedures, and this is why I have canceled indefinitely the course that I was scheduled to teach this March at New York University. I
would like to explain the reason for this refusal, why, despite very cordial relations over the years with American colleagues and students alike,
I consider my decision both necessary and final, and why I hope other intellectuals and other European instructors will do the same. It is not
merely a knee-jerk reaction to a procedure that has long been imposed on criminals and political dissidents. If this was all it was, we could
certainly participate on moral grounds, and thereby express solidarity with the humiliating conditions to which so many human beings are
submitted today. But the essence lies elsewhere. The problem
exceeds the limits of personal sensitivity; quite simply,
it concerns the juridico-political (or simply, ‘‘biopolitical’’) status of citizens who live in allegedly
democratic States. In recent years, there have been efforts to convince us to accept as normal and humane
those means of control that have always been considered as exceptional and properly inhuman . Nobody
exercise of State control over individuals by means of tracking electronic devices , such as
credit cards or cellular phones, has reached previously unimaginable proportions . One could not , however, cross
is unaware that the
certain thresholds in the control and in the manipulation of bodies without entering into a new
biopolitical era , without crossing over into what Michel Foucault called the progressive animalization of man,
implemented by means of the most sophisticated technologies. Electronic scanning of fingerprints
and of the retina, subcutaneous tattooing, along with other similar practices, are all elements that
serve to define this threshold. Those who invoke security measures in order to justify these practices should not sway us: security
measures have nothing to do with it. History teaches us how many such practices, initially reserved for
foreigners, are soon applied to every citizen alike . What is at stake here is none other than the new and
‘‘normal’’ biopolitical relation between citizens and the State . This relation no longer has to do with
free and active participation in the public sphere, but instead concerns the routine inscription and
registration of the most private and most incommunicable element of subjectivity* the biopolitical
life of the body . While the media apparatus controls and manipulates public speech, a corresponding
technological apparatus identifies and registers bare life . Between these two extremes of speech without a body
and a body without speech, the space of what we once called politics is increasingly reduced,
increasingly exiguous . Thus, by applying these procedures to the citizen*or rather, to the human being
as such*the State is applying a technological apparatus that was invented for a dangerous class of
persons. The State , which ought to constitute the very space of public life, instead has made the citizen into the suspect
par excellence*to the point that humanity itself has become a dangerous class. A few years ago, I wrote that
the political paradigm of the West was no longer the city-state, but the concentration camp, and that
we had crossed from Athens to Auschwitz. This was obviously a philosophical claim, not a historical account, since one could
not confuse phenomena that must, on the contrary, be distinguished. I would like to suggest that at Auschwitz, tattooing
undoubtedly became the most routine and most economical means of regulating the inscription and
registration of deportees arriving at concentration camps. The biopolitical tattooing that the United
States is now imposing in order to enter its territory could very well be the harbinger of future
demands*to accept as routine the inscription of the good citizen into the gears and mechanisms of
the State . This is why we must oppose it.
Immigration is produced in excess which puts migrants in a state of exception which
enables reduction to bare life
Chakkour 15 (Soukaina, PhD Student, Utrecht University, Erasmus Mundus Master's Degree in
Women's and Gender Studies, “Speaking near Necropolitics: Sovereignty, Geopolitics of Death and
Sexual Difference”, Utrecht University, Online:, 7/6, DTS)
After examining the space of necropolitics (the first and third world as categories of division), and the mechanism of
necropolitics (the bureaucracy), I will now turn my attention to the very subject of the deaths we are dealing
with: the migrant. In this section, the idea of abandonment is central. In the case study we are dealing
with, the flows of migrants are perceived as excesses that must be managed one way or another. The
migrant as excess expresses itself in the disposability and the perishability of its body. This is to say that the
migrant as a figure is invested with an energy that is disposable. This is precisely what produces within the migrant a
necropolitical dimension, which in turn reduces the migrant to its ability to be killed and disposed of.
We can call this in other terms, the production of bare life as it has been pointed out earlier. The
necropolitical management then depends on cornering certain subjectivities in their condition: in the
case of the migrants, this condition is illegality, which enables the reduction to bare life. By declaring
certain bodies illegal, sovereignty expresses itself necropolitically. The ban that is constituted on the figure of the
migrant in terms of the restriction on movement constitute simultaneously the abandonment of the figure of the migrant. The
abandonment is materialized in placing the migrant in a situation of illegality. With the fulfillment of
such task, the migrant then is effectively put at the mercy of necropower: its life becomes exposed to
death. As the migrant is placed in a domain of illegality, this reflects also its status as homo sacer: who can be killed without consequences
and whose life does not matter. The death of the migrants expresses the de facto relation of abandonment
through the exception: by elevating the very conditions of the migrants into a state of exception –
which becomes easy when mobilizing the discourse of securitizing and safety – the migrants who
abandon everything come to be abandoned. The abandonment effectively bestows on the migrants the status of bare life,
abstracting their existence to a life that does not matter. The necropolitical management becomes what Agamben predicted to be: To kill
without committing murder, to kill without being punished. The migrant then becomes the space of the necropolitical production: the result of
unfortunate bureaucracy in a space where death is a matter of hazard, and where accountability vanishes under the weight of faceless
bureaucracy. We can conclude then that the migrant is reduced to bare life; while abandoning their home countries are actually being
abandoned by politics and sovereignty. The
migrant then is a figure, which is saturated with death since the
repercussion of their movement can (and it does) lead to their death. The inscription of the figure of
the migrant in the sovereign system starts with their displacement to the realm of illegality. This illegality
is a zone of necropower, since it deprives the life of the migrant from any significance in the order of power by making the death of the migrant
unpunishable. The position of illegality might also be recognized in Mbembe’s language as the position of the slain and wounded body whose
death does not matter. The
placement of the migrant in the zone of illegality also fulfills the function of
excluding the migrant from the political sphere: as such the act of abandonment is twofold: within it
lies also the act of exclusion and Agamben is right in conflating the exclusionary inclusion with the
The state of exception has become normalized in government, destroying democracy
Gates 2008 (Kelly, Kelly Gates is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at
University of California, San Diego, “Biometric Registration: The Liquidation of US Democracy?”,
Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies Vol. 5, No. 2, June 2008,
Despite its limited impact, we should respect Agamben’s refusal to submit to biometric registration and, more importantly, recognize the
fundamental and deeply disturbing underlying issue. What more intensified state identification systems portend, and what we in the US are
willfully refusing to acknowledge, is that
we are dangerously close to (if not already) witnessing the liquidation of
our democracy .6 This liquidation is occurring through the implementation of new biometric registration
systems to be sure, but also through what Agamben elsewhere and more importantly has identified as the exercise of the ‘‘state
of exception’’* the suspension of law itself *as the dominant paradigm of government.7 Warrantless
government eavesdropping , the attack on habeas corpus standards , the normalization of torture, the
indefinite internment of ‘‘enemy combatants,’’ and the relentless secrecy of the executive branch and US
security agencies in nearly every situation where congressional and public oversight are essential to democratic process: it is difficult to
see what more evidence we need that the US constitution has been effectively suspended. I would caution eternal optimists
not to place too much faith in the upcoming US election, or other future elections for that matter. The heart of modern democratic
government* the
right to vote*is under assault , and citizens are here again being asked to prove their
innocence as a condition of participation. The Bush administration and other conservatives are capitalizing on the widely
recognized need for voting reforms by pushing the case that voter-impersonation fraud is a major problem, and one with a predictable
solution: stricter voter identification requirements. The Supreme Court has just heard the Democrats’ challenge
to Indiana’s voter-identification law, a case the American Civil Liberties Union calls ‘‘the most important voting rights case since
Bush v. Gore.’’8 The Indiana law, one of the most restrictive such laws in the nation, requires voters to produce government
issued photo IDs at the polls. As the Times reported, the questioning of a majority of the Justices (the conservative majority) suggested
that they did not accept the Indiana Democratic Party’s challenge to the law as ‘‘an unconstitutional burden on
the right to vote.’’9 In fact, the tenor of debate at the High Court hearing indicated that the Justices may go even further
than deciding the case in favor of the state and rule that the challenge itself ‘‘was improperly brought
in the first place.’’10 This decision would make it ‘‘much more difficult to challenge any new state election regulations before they go
into effect,’’11 providing an opportunity for states to pursue stricter voter ID requirements across the country
before November 2008. Regardless of what the Supreme Court ultimately decides in this particular case, in the face of more intensified
identification systems at every turn, it
is becoming increasingly difficult to make an effective case against
stronger voter identification requirements. Why should it matter if voters have to show a government-issued photo ID in order
to vote? As the Indiana Democratic Party and the ACLU argued before the Supreme Court, there is no evidence to suggest that voterimpersonation fraud occurs on any significant scale in Indiana or any other state. Like welfare fraud, voter
impersonation fraud is a
problem of questionable magnitude, conveniently used as an alibi for efforts to exploit white
resentment for political advantage.
It is not that these types of fraud never occur, but they do not occur at the rate advocates of
more government ID regulation claim. In fact, the types of voter fraud that more likely have an impact on elections*like absentee-ballot fraud
and people voting in multiple states in which they have residences*will not be prevented by new photo ID requirements.12 The fact that
conservatives are pushing for new government regulations in the absence of substantive evidence of a problem is in itself suspicious. As
opponents of stricter voter ID laws also maintain, photo ID requirements create a disproportionate burden for poor people and members of
minority groups who are less likely to have government-issued IDs, and more likely to vote Democrat. But what should also concern us about
Indiana’s voter ID law, and the receptive hearing it received from the majority of the Justices, is the
inevitable shortcomings of
photo IDs as technologies of identity verification. There is nothing foolproof about the fraud-preventing potential of government-issued
photo IDs, which means that further measures will likely be pursued later on in an effort to create more
reliable forms of voter identity verification, including the use of biometrics, which in fact are already being
integrated into government-issued IDs. There is nothing inevitable about the institutionalization of biometric voter
identification, but the logic defining it as a necessary measure for fraud prevention has already been
articulated . Biometric technologies are at the heart of the problem that Agamben has identified with
new US visitor ID requirements. As he argues,
these technologies serve to define the threshold beyond which is
emerging a ‘‘new biopolitical era’’ characterized by a shift away from ‘‘active participation in the public
sphere’’ and toward ‘‘the routine inscription and registration of the most private and most incommunicable element
of subjectivity .’’ Biometric registration is concerned not with the political life of the citizen but with
‘‘ the
biopolitical life of the body .’’ As Agamben’s objections suggest, there is something that seems inherently
authoritarian about the state’s effort to make bodies machine-readable , capturing them with
scanning devices and storing their digital representations in a database. The process seems far too
economical and efficient, cold and calculating, institutional and automatic . It threatens to close a
space of freedom, which perhaps never existed, between our bodies and our documents, our official identities
and our own capacity for self-definition. Whether we like it or not, in the context of an indefinite ‘‘state of
exception,’’ biometric registration haunts each of us with the prospect of becoming what Agamben calls
‘‘ homo
sacer,’’ creatures ‘‘legally dead while biologically still alive ,’’13 non-persons stripped of our rights
and open to indefinite internment. In the face of these grave threats to democracy and global human rights, we should ask
ourselves precisely what functions are served by the state’s meticulous attention to instituting new registration and identification
Media perpetuates a politics of fear that creates relational modes of exclusion
premised off national security
Zembylas 10 (Michalinos, Assistant Professor of Education at the Open University of Cyprus,
“Agamben's Theory of Biopower and Immigrants/Refugees/Asylum Seekers: Discourses of Citizenship
and the Implications for Curriculum Theorizing”, Journal of Curriculum Theorizing Vol 26, No 2 (2010),
Online:, 7/2, DTS)
All over the western world, there is an increasing armory of technologies of control and exclusion that are mobilized against immigrants,
refugees and asylum seekers such as detention facilities and prevention of access to work, education, health care and housing. A new kind of
global imaginary is being shaped by the fear of the Other or what Fisher (2006) has termed fearism, that is, “a
process and discourse
hegemony [which] creates an experience of fear that is normalized…keeping the cultural matrix of
‘fear’ operative and relatively invisible”. The concept of fearism shows how popular culture and the
media have been the key elements in promoting the contemporary fear culture and popularizing the
hostile attitudes toward immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. The politics of fear acknowledges
the important role of power relations and cultural scripts in the process of figuring immigrants,
refugees and asylum seekers as fearsome; these groups are fearsome because they are constructed as
a danger to our (e.g., our national group) very existence. Fear of the Other is produced, circulated and
capitalized on to achieve political and economic purposes. However, in this discourse fear is not reduced to a personal
emotion, nor confined to a political sentiment that is manipulated by politicians). Rather, fear comes from individuals and is
then directed toward others and thus fear becomes a dominant relational mode that aligns bodies to
a particular sense of belonging. Therefore, fear produces fearful subjects in relation to fearsome others and secures the very
boundaries between us and them. Fear creates boundaries between “what I am” and “that which I am not,” through the very affect of turning
away from an object that threatens “that which I am.” Fear
works by enabling some bodies to inhabit and move in
public space and by restricting the movement of other bodies to spaces that are enclosed, such as
when nation–states create policies to prevent ‘illegal’ immigrants, ‘un–qualified’ refugees or ‘bogus’
asylum seekers to enter the state. It is the flow of fear among ‘legal’ citizens that establishes these
boundaries between ‘us’ and ‘them’—the fear that illegal immigrants, unqualified refugees and bogus asylum seekers, for
example, threaten the well–being of a state or the character of a nation. Public discourses and news media against
immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers play a crucial role in circulating the idea that these groups
pose a threat to the well–being and security of a state. Once the Other is constituted as a threat to
‘our’ sense of national belonging, then ‘we’ learn to desire and demand ‘their’ exclusion from the
sphere of human values, civic rights and moral obligations. It is this process that we need to interrogate, as Agamben
urges us. He writes: “It would be more honest and, above all, more useful to carefully investigate…[the] deployments of power by
which human beings could be so completely deprived of their rights…that no act committed against
them could appear any longer a crime” But how do liberal and humanitarian discourses of citizenship education respond to such
obvious cases of misrecognition and violation of human rights?
The media apparatus transforms language coopting speech biopolitically and makes
individuals oblivious to death
Murphy 2008 (Stuart, a scholar at Ryerson university, “Thanatopolitics: Reading in Agamben a
Rejoinder to Biopolitical Life”, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies Vol. 5, No. 2, June 2008,
Ironically enough, here is a sobering instance of what Agamben means when he writes that ‘‘the media
apparatus controls and
manipulates public speech.’’ It is not simply that The New York Times declined to publish a translation of Agamben’s editorial, but
that its content has been remediated as a story ostensibly about the editorial, framed in such a way as to mock and protest the
position it takes. Agamben’s words are disembodied, subject to the control and manipulation of the media
apparatus; his original editorial, which might count as ‘‘public speech,’’ is censored. Is it so ‘‘massively paranoid’’ to assume that the
media apparatus and the technological apparatus work together to produce ‘‘speech without a body
and a body without speech’ ’? By manipulating Agamben’s response, controlling the uptake of such ‘‘matters of conscience’’ or
‘‘massive paranoia,’’ The New York Times casts Agamben himself as a body without speech, a body whose speech says nothing and means
nothing, a body that has already been identified and registered as one worthy of proscription from public life, whether on US territory or in the
US newspaper of record.
How should we understand this ‘‘technological apparatus’’ that ‘‘identifies and
registers bare life’’? In keeping with Agamben’s earlier work, we might see it as opening a ‘‘zone of
indistinction,’’3 an ‘‘ambiguous zone,’’4 or ‘‘a zone of indifference’’5 that produces a form of death.
Here, we might recall the prisoner in Kafka’s penal colony. Deprived of public speech, language is co-opted by the machine [der
Apparat] that violently inscribes the law on his body, simultaneously identifying and registering what
Carl Schmitt would call the juridical norm and the sovereign decision.6 While the ‘‘technological
apparatus’’ renders the body speechless, Agamben suggests that the ‘‘ media apparatus’’ effects a similar
death , transforming language into bodiless speech, pure spectacle, propaganda. These are the gears and
mechanisms of biopolitical power . And I believe we are invited to read ‘‘biopolitics’’ not in Agamben’s usual sense of the term
but as Foucault understands it. Agamben’s conception of biopolitical power draws on Schmitt, and is understood as negative: namely, the
decisive power of the sovereign ban that he sees as continuous from antiquity to the present. Foucault,
on the other hand, sees a shift occurring in modernity, when modern biopolitics becomes productive or
And as Rey Chow has argued,7 Foucauldian biopolitics is more resonant with the high tech identification and registration that
Agamben mentions, including biometrical data derived from such technologies as retinal scanning and the digitization and storage of human
fingerprints. Indeed, in his editorial, Agamben points to the productive power
of the media to act
biopolitically*through the indirect but productive manipulation and control of language, of public
speech, and of communicative and cultural practices more generally. And as I suggested above, the article in The
New York Times is, perhaps, an unwitting instance of just how public perception is massaged. Foucault marks the important shift from classical
biopolitics is conceived as ‘‘the power to ‘make’ live and ‘let’ die .’’8 The decision to kill or let live is
biopower to modern biopolitics. Classical biopower is summed up as the sovereign decision ‘‘to take life or let live,’’ whereas
replaced with a productive biopolitics that is twofold, that ‘‘makes live’’ and ‘‘lets die.’’ Death becomes
a consequence*a necessary part*of living . Such death is too easily elided and dismissed. Nobody is
killed, at least not directly, and nobody’s hands are bloodied, at least not that we can see; the crimes
are outsourced to penal colonies, through ‘‘extraordinary rendition’’ become ordinary, obfuscated by
State bureaucracy, and covered up by one media spectacle after another . These deaths are never
‘‘caused’’ as such; officially, they are merely ‘‘allowed,’’ a passive event, collateral damage. But biopolitical logic
requires them. In order that we’’ may live, live well and live fully, ‘‘ they’’ must die, the distinction between
the virtuous citizen and the other excluded as bare life, disposable life. Here we might think of the neomort
kept ‘‘alive’’ for organ harvesting, the deaths resulting from pharmaceutical testing in poorer parts of
the globe, or the repatriated corpses of US soldiers forbidden from entering ‘‘public speech’’ through
a media moratorium .
Depoliticization of central state authority has widened the scope of terror detection,
infiltrating the private sphere while cloaked under the mask of fear
Amoore 05 (Louise, Louise Amoore researches and teaches in the areas of global geopolitics and
security. She has particular interests in how contemporary forms of data, analytics and risk management
are changing the techniques of border control and security, “Biometric Borders: Governing Mobilites in
the war on terror”, May 2005, Political Geography 25, )/AK47
Authority and authorization In their discussion of the governmentalization of contemporary societies, Rose and Valverde (1998, p. 550) suggest
that the ‘authority
of authority’ has been established and defended ‘through alliances between the
different legitimacies conferred by law and expertise’. Understood though this frame, the rise of the biometric
border represents just such a mode of 344 L. Amoore / Political Geography 25 (2006) 336e351 authority: conferred by a raft of
anti-terror legislation stitched together with the expertise of the risk managers. The alliance between law and expertise noted
by Rose and Valverde is part of what Foucault termed a ‘normalizing society’ , in which the calculated
administration of life is the key technology of power (Foucault, 1976, p. 144). The increasing hybridization of legal and
non-legal authorities, as Rose and Valverde (p. 542) argue, draws on a continuum of regulatory apparatuses, from the strictly juridical
to the professional and personal. On announcing Accenture’s contract, for example, the Department of Homeland Security
said that ‘by harnessing the power of the best minds in the private sector it is possible to enhance the
security of our country while increasing efficiency at our borders’ (Department of Homeland Security, 2004).
Similarly, Accenture’s Eric Stange talks of the Smart Border Alliance as ‘a strong team of highly qualified companies with significant border
management expertise’ (Accenture press release, 2004, p. 2). For one of Accenture’s sub-contractors, Titan Corporation, some
of this
expertise was honed in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where they supplied interrogators and
interpreters. Yet, very little of this has registered in public debate, beyond vague concerns about an offshore company winning a US
government contract.8 In effect, the expertise becomes the norm, as one immigration lawyer explained, ‘ since 9/11 the public
authorities have turned to the private authorities to design the architecture of the systems, to make
‘‘efficient systems’’ .so this is only ever treated as a technical problem, and not a question of politics’.9 The active
depoliticisation that is enabled via the authorization of groups such as Smart Borders, however, does
not imply simply a shift from public to private authority . Rather, the authority of the state is enhanced
and revitalized , the apparent loss of sovereignty being ‘compensated through the resurgence of
sovereignty within the field of governmentality’ (Butler, 2004, p. 56). Understood as examples of Butler’s resurgent ‘petty
sovereigns’, the US VISIT disperses power throughout a network of authorities whose actions are
sanctioned by a state that declares ‘exceptions’ to or ‘suspensions’ of the rule of law (Agamben, 2005; Butler,
2004). Connolly (2005, p. 145) makes an important point, then, when he argues, partially contra-Agamben, that ‘the sovereign is not simply he
(orshe) who first decides that there is an exception and then decides how to resolve it’. Instead, ‘sovereign is that which decides an exception
exists and how to decide it, with the that composed of a plurality of forces circulating through and under the positional sovereignty of the
official arbitrating body’. I am arguing here not
that sovereignty is somehow lost by the state to private players,
nor that authority has become governmentalized around the consultants and data integration
multinationals. The authority to designate the exception and to produce the figures of the trusted traveller and Agamben’s (1998)
abandoned figure of Homo Sacer, though, is diffused to the point that it is in the hands of all citizens. As Gregory (2004, p. 16) has captured the
‘banality of the colonial present and our complicity in its horrors’, so the
proliferation of contemporary spaces of
exception should not prevent us from attending to the mundane violences of ‘practices that mark
other people as irredeemably ‘‘Other’’’. One effect of this dispersal of spaces of exception into the routines of everyday life has
been what Coutin (2000) has called ‘the surveillance of migrant illegality’. In Accenture’s bid for the US VISIT contract, for example, they
reportedly ‘wowed government officials with a demo that included wireless tags that tracked immigrants’ whereabouts’ (‘‘Accenture Hits the
Daily 8 Interviewed in the New York Times, Representative Richard Neal declared the US VISIT contact to be ‘outrageous’. ‘The Bush
administration’, he argued, ‘has awarded the largest homeland security contract in history to a company that has given up its US citizenship and
moved to Bermuda’. ‘If companies want a slice of the American pie’, he declared, ‘then they had better help bake it’ (2004, p. 26). 9 Interview,
Immigration Law Center, November 7, 2004. L. Amoore / Political Geography 25 (2006) 336e351 345 Double’’, 2004, p. 74). Despite a legal
framework that ostensibly restricts the deployment of US VISIT powers to border management, the potential to disperse US VISIT authority into
the governing and surveillance of migrant workers was clear even before the award of the contract.
The extra-legal authority
conferred by expertise has enabled the bundling together of ‘terrorist’ with ‘illegal immigrant’,
‘welfare tourist’ and so on, authorizing an ever widening sphere of actors to engage in surveillance
and policing.
In many ways, the emphasis on risk profiling embodied within US VISIT is merely an initial step in rendering ordinary and
everyday the monitoring of suspicious or risky groups. Following the award of US VISIT, Accenture’s Eric Stange explained in an interview that
what is ultimately required in the war on terror is a ‘cultural change’, a shift that extends beyond
governments and private firms and ‘into individuals perceptions and responsibilities’ (‘‘Beta’’, 2004). During
2003 Accenture organized a major trans-American series of ‘citizens workshops’ on homeland security, concluding that ‘ the people are
the nation’s most important and untapped resource in the homeland security enterprise’ (Council for
Excellence, 2004, p. 7). The subsequent report identifies information
sharing and secure borders as citizens’ strategic
priorities, suggesting that ‘wellintentioned Americans’ should volunteer their time to help fight the war on terror (p. 11).
Yet, there are apparently no questions raised as to the implications of such citizen profiling for the Arab Americans
and other groups who have found that risk profiling is racial and ethnic targeting (Edley, 2003; Nagel, 2002). As
Butler (2004, p. 39) has put the problem, ‘when the alert goes out, every member of the population is asked to become a ‘‘foot soldier’’’ in
the war on terror, observing the behaviour of fellow passengers on a train, new neighbours in town,
‘and anyone who looks vaguely Arab in the dominant racial imaginary’. At the time of writing, in the wake of the
July London bombings, the Chief Constable of London transport police is calling for increased vigilance on the part of commuters and tourists,
simultaneously urging that stop and search powers should be ‘targeted’ and ‘should not waste time
on white old ladies’ (‘‘Plan to Improve’’, 2005). The making of the responsible and vigilant homeland security citizen is closely tied into
the adventure and lifestyle gadgetry of smart phones and mobile hand-held technologies. Alongside the award of
border control contracts to data and risk management companies, such firms also draw the citizen into the everyday armoury of the war on
terror. A Seattle IT company, Town Compass LLC, for example, markets ‘personal products to fight the war on terror’. Their ‘Most Wanted
Terrorists’ database is available as a free download to pocket PCs and smart phones as part of a ‘terrorism survival’ bundle. Town Compass
promises that ‘people can have the photos and descriptions at their fingertips at all times in case they spot a suspicious person, easily
comparing the person to the photo without endangering themselves’ (cited in ‘‘Homeland Security Focus’’, 2004, p. 4). Should
vigilant citizen succeed in identifying a suspicious person, the download comes complete with onetouch dialing to the FBI and full details of currently available rewards. The electronically enabled citizen
as foot soldier in the war on terror has similarly been called up (and into being) by the UK government following the
London bombings. The ‘Life Savers’ hotline number is downloaded to mobile phones with the message that ‘people should consider whether
the behaviour of those they encounter, through work or socially, gives them any reason to think they might be planning terrorist attacks’
the risk profiling and targeted governance that is writ large in the US
VISIT programme establishes a new process of authorization, in which the everyday spheres of the
(Home Office, 2005). In each of these cases
commute, the office and the household become sites of authority in the war on terror . For a politics of
resistance or dissent, the problem of the growing ubiquity of the ‘homeland security citizen’ is one that appears to foreclose the possibility of
public critique. Elsewhere I 346 L. Amoore / Political Geography 25 (2006) 336e351 have discussed in greater depth
the problematic
of resistance within the war on terror, suggesting that we find ourselves in ambivalent subject
positions: both frequent flier and immigrant rights campaigner, for example; or both London city
commuter and anti-war protester (Amoore, 2006). Though outside the scope of this article to pursue the resistance question
further, I have argued that the looming presence of the biometric border should be taken seriously politically,
but that it should also be destablised and critiqued, perhaps made less serious, as in some of the examples of
artistic interventions I have discussed. I will suggest one example here, then, of an important and growing body of satirical readings of the
making of the homeland security citizen. San Francisco animator, Mark Fiore, subjects the risk discourses of the Department of Homeland
Security to observant political satire. In his short animation Minister of Fear, Fiore depicts Secretary Tom Ridge as the
cloaked and
masked ‘minister of fear’, bringing the risks of global terrorism to the living rooms of America. The
Minister vacillates wildly between the calm assurance that the state has security in control: ‘remain calm, stand down, go about your business,
code yellow’; and a screaming panic that warns ‘they are coming, look out! You never know where the terrorists might strike, they are coming.
but in a non-specific and unsubstantiated way’.10 In Are you a Patriot?, Fiore
targets the Patriot Act’s explicit focus on
citizens as surveillant individuals. The viewer is asked ‘to decide who should be investigated using the
anti-terrorist Patriot Act’. The animation then shows a number of stereotyped mug shots, each time
asking the viewer to decide: ‘suspected terrorist?; suspected pipe bomb nut?; suspected identity
thief’.11 Rather as Heath Bunting’s works replay the dataveillance techniques of the war on terror, unsettling their apparently secure roots in
science and law and rendering them incomplete and contingent, Mark Fiore unsettles the assumptions underpinning the making of the
homeland security citizen. His short films serve to question the logics of profiling ‘suspicious behaviour’ and to repoliticise the homeland
security discourses of risk and fear. We are left with the feeling that there is political significance in reclaiming uncertainty, in ‘accepting
permanent uncertainty’, as Bigo (2001, 2002) puts it, and ‘learning to live’ with our fears. Indeed, as many writers have suggested, art, comedy
and laughter have an important role to play in a politics that disrupts what we have come to see as necessary or normal ways of living (Bleiker,
2000; Odysseos, 2001). In the face of a war on terror that appeals to our sense of normal ‘ways of life’ and the ‘normal run of things’ (Johnson,
2002), satirical accounts such as Fiore’s serve to question what is seen as a normal way of life. If the
daily commute, the
workplace and the city street are to become domains of homeland security surveillance,12 then a
politics of dissent must begin from the point of unsettling their ubiquity and ordinariness, making
them extraordinary and open to question.
Solvency--Destituent power
A political praxis of destituent power is key to breaking completely from the law can
we expose the anarchy captured in the state of control and resist co-option
Agamben 13 [Giorgio, a leading continental philosopher best known for his work on the concepts of the state of exception, form-of-life
and homo sacer, “From the State of Control to a Praxis of Destituent Power,”, omak]
But I would like to conclude — or better to simply stop my lecture (in philosophy, like in art, no conclusion is possible, you can only abandon
your work) — with something which, as far as I can see now, is perhaps the most urgent political problem. If the state we have in front of us is
the security state I described, we have to think anew the traditional strategies of political conflicts. What shall we do, what strategy shall we
follow? The
security paradigm implies that each form of dissent, each more or less violent attempt to overthrow the
an opportunity to govern these actions into a profitable direction. This is evident in the
dialectics that tightly bind together terrorism and state in an endless vicious spiral. Starting with French
order, becomes
Revolution, the political tradition of modernity has conceived of radical changes in the form of a revolutionary process that acts as the pouvoir
constituant, the “constituent power”, of a new institutional order. I
think that we have to abandon this paradigm and try
to think something as a puissance destituante, a purely “destituent power”, that cannot be captured
in the spiral of security. It is a destituent power of this sort that Benjamin has in mind in his essay On the Critique of Violence, when
he tries to define a pure violence which could “break the false dialectics of lawmaking violence and lawpreserving violence,” an example of which is Sorel’s proletarian general strike. “On the breaking of this cycle,” he writes at the end of
the essay “maintained by mythic forms of law, on the destitution of law with all the forces on which it depends, finally therefore on the
abolition of state power, a new historical epoch is founded.” While
a constituent power destroys law only to recreate it
in a new form, destituent power — insofar as it deposes once for all the law — can open a really new
historical epoch. To think such a purely destituent power is not an easy task. Benjamin wrote once that nothing is so anarchical as the
bourgeois order. In the same sense, Pasolini in his last movie has one of the four Salò masters saying to their slaves: “true anarchy is the
anarchy of power.” It is precisely because power constitutes itself through the inclusion and the
capture of anarchy and anomy that it is so difficult to have an immediate access to these dimensions;
it is so hard to think today of something as a true anarchy or a true anomy. I think that a praxis which
would succeed in exposing clearly the anarchy and the anomy captured in the governmental security
technologies could act as a purely destituent power. A really new political dimension becomes possible only when we
grasp and depose the anarchy and the anomy of power. But this is not only a theoretical task: it means first of all the rediscovery
of a form-of-life, the access to a new figure of that political life whose memory the security state tries
at any price to cancel.
Solvency-- Inoperativity
Inoperativity is a prerequisite to potentiality – suspending the sovereignty of law
provides a radical break that constitutes the alteration of potentiality to give it
coherence in absence of bare life
Attel 9 (Kevin, Associate professor, Cornell Department of English, “Potentiality, Actuality, Constituent
Power” Diacritics, Vol. 39, No. 3, Contemporary Italian Thought, (1) (fall 2009), pp. 35-53, Johns Hopkins
University Press, Online:, 7/11, DTS)
But how exactly does Agamben interpret the sentence as a description of the passage from potentiality to act? What complicates the issue here
is that in showing
impotentiality to be an essential and equal component of potentiality, Agamben has
established that the passage to act cannot be seen simply as the inevitable end result of potentiality's
irresistible tendency to realize itself. Being or doing is not founded on the inherent tension of
potentiality toward being or doing, but also on a modification or alteration of the equally forceful
potentiality not to be or do. In short, energeia is not the realization solely of potentiality-to, but a sort of precipitation, the result of a
process that happens in the autonomous realm of dunamis and adunamia, which in itself is relatively indifferent to energeia. Since
impotentiality is an integral component of (or, better, since it is) potentiality, then conceiving of the passage
to act is not as simple as saying that energeia is a matter of potentiality realizing itself by overcoming the
obstacle of adunamia, for energeia is also, as Heller-Roazen notes, "nothing other that the full realization of the potential
not to be (or do)," which in turn must also be an element that in some way persists in that realization.
That this is the point of Agamben's reading is suggested by the fact that the section of "On Potentiality" in which the discussion of this passage
is found is titled "The Act of Impotentiality." In the Italian version of the essay, however, this section bears the title "Nulla sara di impotente"
[There will be nothing impotential], which indeed is the last clause of 1047a 24—26 as Agamben translates it: "What is potential is that for
which, if the act of which it is said to have the potential comes about, there will be nothing impo tential." [Epotente cidper il quale, se avviene
I'atto di cui e detto avere la potenza, nulla sara di impotente.] [P 183; PP 284]. Both of those titles—"The Act of Impotentiality" and "Nulla sara
di impotente"—are pertinent to this crucial argument, and we must now focus on each, beginning with the second: "There will be nothing
impotential." It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that Agamben's entire argument hinges on his reading of this last phrase of Aristotle's
opaque sentence. Unfortunately, however, though much of his argument can be pieced together from chapter 1.3 of Homo Sacer as well as the
Bar tleby essay and a few other texts, Agamben's precise reading of Aristotle's key sentence is more or less illegible in the version of "On
Potentiality" published in Potentialities. "On Potentiality" was delivered as a lecture in Lisbon in 1987 and appeared in print for the first time in
Heller-Roazen's English translation for the landmark 1999 collection Potentialities. It appeared more recently, however, in a substantially
different form in 16 And see in general his discussion of potentiality. the Italian analogue to Potentialities, titled La potenza delpensiero (where
it in fact now bears the same title as the collection). Among the changes to the Italian version is the inclusion of a long passage that explains in
considerable detail how we are to understand the phrase concerning the adunaton, and in turn Agamben's entire doctrine of impotentiality. On
the question of what Aristotle means by the negated adunaton in the final clause outhen estai adunaton, Agamben makes two central claims.
The first, which we have already discussed, is that adunaton does not mean "impossible" but rather
"potential not to (be or do)," and the second is that we must understand the negation of adunaton
(outhen estai) in a "privative mode" rather than as a "modal" negation.17 In a long passage not included in the English
edition he writes that, in contrast to the reading of adunaton as "impossible," It thus is clear why Agamben titles this section of the essay "Nulla
sara di impotente," the phrase on which everything hinges; for in this very unusual "privative" interpretation of the negated impotentiality in
that final clause of the sentence, Agamben sees an account of what the passage to the act must entail when impotentiality is viewed as co
belonging to potentiality. Impotentiality
is not simply annulled or left behind, but is itself also fulfilled,
actualized in the act, which means that the act itself is a sort of "privative" self-suspension of the
potentiality-not-to, the impotenza that in the act turns on itself and suspends itself in the form of a
potential not to not be. For Agamben this is the meaning of the clause outhen estai adunaton, "there will be nothing impotential."
This is also why, as noted above, the title of this same section in the English version of the essay, "The Act of Impotentiality," is also entirely
appropriate. If impotentiality is indeed the "decisive" sense of potentiality, then actuality or energeia must then decisively be thought as the
fulfillment (the act) of impotentiality. At stake in Agamben's "impotential" reading of this passage is his broader critique of the primacy of
actuality in the philosophical tradition, which we already saw an element of in his more or less Heideggerian affirmation of potentiality over
actuality. This
analysis of the passage of impotentiality into act, however, constitutes a second element
of this reconceptualization and revaluation of actuality. As suggested at the end of this long passage, for Agamben, in
it is not only potentiality but also and above all impotentiality that as such passes wholly over
into the act, and if this is the case then actuality must be seen not as the cancellation of impotentiality
and the fulfillment of potentiality, but rather as the precipitate of the self-suspension of
impotentiality, which produces the act in the far more obscure, but for Agamben absolutely
fundamental, mode of privation or steresis. It produces the act not in the fashion of a positive ground or even a negative
ground, but in a paradoxical structure of a privation that is not a negation. The identification and description of this peculiar
form of relation—which seems to be precisely a form of unrelation—is of utmost importance for
Agamben's thought, and as we will see in the next section, in Homo Sacer this relation between a potentiality-not to
(be or do) and the reality or act that it privatively produces and includes will be given the name
"relation of ban" or "relation of exception," and its logic will be elaborated in terms of the paradox of
sovereignty, that is, the power that grounds the juridical order by virtue of its ability to suspend the
law. One of the fundamental discoveries of Homo Sacer (via Schmitt) is that the structure of this potentiality-not-to that withholds itself while
privatively giving being—which is also the "essential structure of the metaphysical tradition" —is none other than the structure of sovereignty,
originary structure in which law refers to life and includes it in itself by suspending itself', "the
hidden foundation on which the entire political system rest[s]”. This passage would roughly replace the last paragraph
on page of Potentialities. As is well known, Agamben studied law at university, but turned to philosophy soon thereafter. His legal training,
however, served him well in his research for Homo Sacer, as he noted in a 2001 interview: "For a long time [after turning to philosophy], I
thought it was a mistake to have studied law. That is something, however, that I no longer think because without this familiarity I would
probably never have been able to write Homo Sacer", It is, further, on the basis of his having "caught sight" of the inclusive-exclusive ban
structure that Agamben distinguishes his thought from the political traditions to which it is probably closest, namely, anarchism and Marxism It
is no exaggeration, then, to say that this concept of potenza forms the philosophical foundation for the biopolitical thesis first developed in
Homo Sacer. As
noted earlier, Agamben's central analysis of the relation between sovereign power and
the bare life over which it rules is explicitly presented as a coherent development of his earlier
analysis of potentiality. It is also, moreover, articulated as a critique of precisely the notion of constituent power that lies at the core
of Negri's work. In chapter 1.3 of Homo Sacer Agamben passes from the book's opening analysis of the logic of sovereignty to that of
potentiality via a discussion of the aporetic relation between constituent power and constituted power, closing with some brief but crucial
comments on Negri's discussion of this relation in Insurgencies and the claim that "Negri cannot find any criterion, in his wide analysis of the
historical phenomenology of constituent power, by which to isolate constituent power from sovereign power"
AT: Biopower Good
Even if biopolitics necessitates care for part of the population, it requires that
subsections of the population be perpetually annihilated so that the rest can optimize
the quality of their lives. Biopower deserves presumption of suspicion because it
justifies violent intervention
Dillon 5 (Michael, Professor of Politics and International Relations at Lancaster University, May,
Foucault Studies, No.2, p.43-44
The key point of dispute with Ojakangas concerns the self-immolating logic of biopolitics. “Not bare life
that is exposed to an unconditional threat of death,” he says in the introduction to his paper, “but the care of ‘all living’ is the foundation of
biopower.” (emphasis in the original). Ojakangas says: “Foucault’s biopower has nothing to do with that [Agamben] kind of bare life.” I
agree. Foucault’s biopolitics concerns an historically biologised life whose biologisation continues to mutate as the life sciences themselves
offer changing interpretations and technical determinations of life. This biologised life of biopolitics nonetheless also raises the stake for
Foucault of a life that is not a biologised life. So it does for Agamben, but differently and in a different way.24 For Foucault, the biologised
life of biopolitics also raises the issue of a life threatened in supremely violent and novel ways. So it does for Agamben, but again differently
and for the same complex of reasons. 25 In contesting Agamben in the ways that he does, Ojakangas marks an important difference, then,
between Foucault and Agamben. That done, perhaps the difference needs however to be both marked differently and interrogated
differently. I have argued that there is a certain betrayal in the way Agamben reworks Foucault. There is however much more going on in
this ‘betrayal’ than misconstruction and misinterpretation. There is a value in it. Exploring that value requires another ethic of reading in
addition to that of the exegesis required to mark it out. For Agamben’s
loathing of biopolitics is I think more ‘true’ to
the burgeoning suspicion and fear that progressively marked Foucault’s reflections on it than
Ojakangas’ account can give credit for, since he concentrates on providing the exegetical audit required to mark it out
rather than evaluate it. In posing an intrinsic and unique threat to life through the very ways in which it
promotes, protects and invests life, ‘care for all living’ threatens life in its own distinctive ways.
Massacres have become vital. The threshold of modernity is reached when the life of the species is wagered on its own (bio)
political strategies. Biopolitics must and does recuperate the death function. It does teach us how to
punish and who to kill.26 Power over life must adjudicate punishment and death as it distributes
live across terrains of value that the life sciences constantly revise in the cause of life’s very promotion. It has to. That is
also why we now have a biopolitics gone geopolitically global in humanitarian wars of intervention
and martial doctrines of virtuous war.27 Here, also, is the reason why the modernising developmental
politics of biopolitics go racist: “So you can understand the importance – I almost said the vital importance – of racism to such
an exercise of power.”28 In racism, Foucault insists: “We are dealing with a mechanism that allows biopower to work.”29 But: “The
specificity of modern racism, or what gives it its specificity, is not bound up with mentalities, ideologies or the lies of power. It is bound up
with the techniques of power, with the technology of power.”30 In thus threatening life, biopolitics prompts a revision of the question of
life and especially of the life of a politics that is not exhaustively biologised; comprehensively subject to biopolitical governance in such a
way that life shows up as nothing but the material required for biopolitical governance, whether in terms posed by Foucault or Agamben.
Emphasising care for all living - the promotion, protection and investment of the life of individuals and populations – elides
the issue of being cared to death. Being cared to death poses the issue of the life that is
presupposed, nomologically for Agamben and biologically for Foucault, in biopolitics. Each
foregrounds the self-immolating logic that ineluctably applies in a politics of life that understands
life biologically, in the way that Foucault documents for us, or nomologically, in the way that Agamben’s bare life contends.
When recalling the significance of the Christian pastorate to biopolitics, Ojakangas seems to emphasize a line of
succession rather than of radical dissociation. One, moreover, which threatens to elide the intrinsic violence of
biopolitics and its essential relation with correction and death.
Embrace Refuge
Embracing refugee status good—focus on the figure of the refugee?
Agamben 2k (Giorgio, Agamben was educated in law and philosophy at the University of Rome,
“Means Without End: Notes on Politics” , 2000,
Refugees driven from country to country represent the vanguard of their peoples.’1 One ought to reflect on
the meaning of this analysis, which after fifty years has lost none of its relevance. It is not only the case that the problem presents itself inside
and outside of Europe with just as much urgency as then. It is also the case that, given the by now unstoppable decline of the nation-state and
the general corrosion of traditional political-juridical categories, the refugee
is perhaps the only thinkable figure for the
people of our time and the only category in which one may see today – at least until the process of dissolution of
the nationstate and of its sovereignty has achieved full completion – the forms and limits of a coming political community.
It is even possible that, if we want to be equal to the absolutely new tasks ahead, we will have to abandon decidedly, without reservation, the
fundamental concepts through which we have so far represented the subjects of the political (Man, the Citizen and its rights, but also the
sovereign people, the worker, and so forth) and build our political philosophy anew starting from the one and only figure of the refugee. The
first appearance of refugees as a mass phenomenon took place at the end of World War I, when the fall of
the Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman empires, along with the new order created by the peace treaties, upset profoundly the
demographic and territorial constitution of Central Eastern Europe. In a short period, 1.5 million White Russians, seven hundred thousand
Armenians, five hundred thousand Bulgarians, a million Greeks, and hundreds of thousands of Germans, Hungarians, and Romanians left their
countries. To these moving masses, one needs to add the explosive situation determined by the fact that about 30 percent of the population in
the new states created by the peace treaties on the model of the nation-state (Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, for
example), was constituted by minorities that had to be safeguarded by a series of international treaties – the so-called Minority Treaties –
which very often were not enforced. A few years later, the racial
laws in Germany and the civil war in Spain dispersed
throughout Europe a new and important contingent of refugees.
We are used to distinguishing between refugees and stateless people, but this distinction was not then as
simple as it may seem at first glance, nor is it even today. From the beginning, many refugees, who were not technically stateless, preferred to become such rather than return to their country. (This was the case with the Polish and Romanian Jews who were in France or Germany at the
end of the war, and today it is the case with those who are politically persecuted or for whom returning to their countries w ould mean putting their own survival at risk.) On the other hand, Russian, Armenian, and Hungarian refugees were promptly denationalized by the new Turkish and
Soviet governments. It is important to note how, starting with World War I, many European states began to pass laws allowing the denaturalization and denationalization of their own citizens: France was first, in 1915, with regard to naturalized citizens of ‘enemy origin’; in 1922, Belgium
followed this example by revoking the naturalization of those citizens who had committed ‘antinational’ acts during the war; in 1926, the Italian Fascist regime passed an analogous law with regard to citizens who had shown themselves ‘undeserving of Italian citizenship’; in 1933, it was
Austria’s turn; and so on, until in 1935 the Nuremberg Laws divided German citizens into citizens with full rights and citizens without political rights. Such laws – and the mass statelessness resulting from them – mark a decisive turn in the life of the modern nation-state as well as its
definitive emancipation from naive notions of the citizen and a people. This is not the place to retrace the history of the various international organizations through which single states, the League of Nations, and later, the United Nations have tried to face the refugee problem, from the
Nansen Bureau for the Russian and Armenian refugees (1921) to the High Commission for Refugees from Germany (1936) to the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees (1938) to the UN’s International Refugee Organizaa a tion (1946) to the present Office of the High Commissioner
for Refugees (1951), whose activity, according to its statute, does not have a political character but rather only a ‘social and humanitarian’ one. What is essential is that each and every time refugees no longer represent individual cases but rather a mass phenomenon (as was the case
between the two world wars and is now once again), these organizations as well as the single states – all the solemn evocations of the inalienable rights of human beings notwithstanding – have proved to be absolutely incapable not only of solving the problem but also of facing it in an
adequate manner. The whole question, therefore, was handed over to humanitarian organizations and to the police. The reasons for such impotence lie not only in the selfishness and blindness of bureaucratic apparatuses, but also in the very ambiguity of the fundamental notions
regulating the inscription of the native (that is, of life) in the juridi e cal order of the nation-state. Hannah Arendt titled the chapter of her book Imperialism that concerns the refugee m problem ‘The Decline of the NationState and the End of the Rights of Man’.2 One should try to take
seriously this formulation, which indissolubly links the fate of the Rights of Man with the fate of the modern nation-state in such a way that the waning of the latter necessarily implies the obsolescence of the former. Here the paradox is that precisely the figure that should have embodied
conception of human rights based on the supposed existence
of a human being as such, Arendt tells us, proves to be untenable as soon as those who profess it find
themselves confronted for the first time with people who have really lost every quality and every
specific relation except for the pure fact of being human.3 In the system of the nation-state, socalled sacred and
inalienable human rights are revealed to be without any protection precisely when it is no longer possible
to conceive of them as rights of the citizens of a state. This is implicit, after all, in the ambiguity of the very title of the 1789
human rights more than any other – namely, the refugee – marked instead the radical crisis of the concept. The
Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen, in which it is unclear whether the two terms are to name two distinct realities or whether they
are to form, instead, a hendiadys in which the first term is actually always already contained in the second. That there is no
space in the political order of the nation-state for something like the pure human in itself is evident at the
very least from the fact that, even in the best of cases, the status of refugee has always been considered a temporary condition that ought to
lead either to naturalization or to repatriation. A stable
statute for the human in itself is inconceivable in the law of
the nation-state. It is time to cease to look at all the declarations of rights from 1789 to the present day as proclamations of eternal
metajuridical values aimed at binding the legislator to the respect of such values; it is time, rather, to understand them according to their real
Human rights, in fact, represent first of all the originary figure for the inscription
of natural naked life in the political-juridical order of the nation-state. Naked life (the human being), which in
antiquity belonged to God and in the classical world was clearly distinct (as zoe) from political life (bios), comes to the forefront in
function in the modern state.
the management of the state and becomes, so to speak, its earthly foundation. Nation-state means a
state that makes nativity or birth [nascita] (that is, naked human life) the foundation of its own sovereignty. This is
the meaning (and it is not even a hidden one) of the first three articles of the 1789 Declaration: it is only because this declaration inscribed (in
articles 1 and 2) the native element in the heart of any political organization that it can firmly bind (in article 3) the principle of sovereignty to
the nation (in conformity with its etymon, native [natío] originally meant simply ‘birth’ [nascita]. The fiction that is implicit here is that birth [ h
nascita] comes into being immediately as nation, so that there may not be any difference between the two moments.
Rights, in other
words, are attributed to the human being only to the degree to which he or she is the immediately
vanishing presupposition (and, in fact, the presupposition that must never come to light as such) of the citizen. If the refugee
represents such a disquieting element in the order of the nation-state, this is so primarily because, by breaking the identity
between the human and the citizen and that between nativity and nationality, it brings the originary fiction of
sovereignty to crisis. Single exceptions to such a principle, of course, have always existed. What is new in our time is that growing
sections of humankind are no longer representable inside the nation-state – and this novelty threatens the very
foundations of the latter. Inasmuch as the refugee, an apparently marginal figure, unhinges the old trinity of statenation-territory, it deserves instead to be regarded as the central figure of our political history . We
should not forget that the first camps were built in Europe as spaces for controlling refugees, and that the succession of internment camps
Nazis constantly obeyed
throughout the course of the ‘final solution’ was that Jews and Gypsies could be sent to
concentration camps-extermination camps represents a perfectly real filiation. One of the few rules the
extermination camps only after having been fully denationalized (that is, after they had been stripped of even that
second-class citizenship to which they had been relegated after the Nuremberg Laws). When their rights are no longer the
rights of the citizen, that is when human beings are truly sacred, in d the sense that this term used to
have in the Roman law of the archaic period: doomed to death. The concept of refugee must be
resolutely separated from the concept of the ‘human rights’, and the right of asylum (which in any case is by
now in the process of being drastically restricted in the legislation of the European states) must no longer be considered as the
conceptual category in which to inscribe the phenomenon of refugees. (One needs only to look at Agnes Heller’s
recent Theses on the Right of Asylum to realize that this m cannot but lead today to awkward confusions.) The refugee should be considered for
what it is, namely, nothing less than a limit-concept that at once brings a radical crisis to the principles of the nation-state and clears the way
for a renewal of categories that can no longer be delayed. Meanwhile, in fact, the
phenomenon of so-called illegal
immigration into the countries of the European Union has reached (and shall increasingly reach in the coming years, given the
estimated twenty million immigrants from Central European countries) characteristics and proportions such that this
reversal of perspective is fully justified. What industrialized countries face today is a permanently
resident mass of noncitizens that do not want to be and cannot be either naturalized or repatriated.
These noncitizens often have nationalities of origin, but, inasmuch as they prefer not to benefit from their own states’ protection, they find
themselves, as refugees, in a condition of de facto statelessness. Tomas Hammar has created the neologism of ‘denizens’ for these noncitizen
residents, a neologism that has the merit of showing how the concept of ‘citizen’ is no longer adequate for describing the social-political reality
of modern states.4 On the other hand, the
citizens of advanced industrial states (in the United States as well as Europe)
demonstrate, through an increasing desertion of the codified instances of political participation, an evident propensity to turn
into denizens, into noncitizen permanent residents, so that citizens and denizens – at least in certain
social strata – are entering an area of potential indistinction. In a parallel way, xenophobic reactions and
defensive mobilizations are on the rise, in conformity with the well-known principle according to
which substantial assimilation in the presence of formal differences exacerbates hatred and
intolerance. Before extermination camps are reopened in Europe (something that is already starting to happen), it is necessary
that the nation-states find the courage to question the very principle of the inscription of nativity as
well as the trinity of state-nation-territory that is founded on that principle. It is not easy to indicate right now the ways in which all this may
concretely happen. One of the options taken into consideration for solving the problem of Jerusalem is that it become – simultaneously and
without any territorial partition – the capital of two different states. The
paradoxical condition of reciprocal
extraterritoriality (or, better yet, aterritoriality) that would thus be implied could be generalized as a model of
new international relations. Instead of two national states separated by uncertain and threatening
boundaries, it might be possible to imagine two political communities existing on the same region
and in a condition of exodus from each other – communities that would articulate each other via a
series of reciprocal extraterritorialities in which the guiding concept would no longer be the ius (right) of the citizen s but rather
the refugium (refuge) of the m singular. In an analogous way, we could conceive of Europe not as an impossible ‘Europe of the nations’, whose
catastrophe one can already foresee in the short run, but rather
as an aterritorial or extraterritorial space in which all
the (citizen and noncitizen) residents of the European states would be in a position of exodus or refuge; the
status of European would then mean the being-in-exodus of the citizen (a condition that obviously could also be
one of immobility). European space would thus mark an irreducible difference between birth [nascita] and nation in
which the old concept of people (which, as is well known, is always a minority) could again find a political meaning,
thus decidedly opposing itself to the concept of nation (which has so far unduly usurped it). This space would
coincide neither with any of the homogeneous national territories nor with their topographical sum,
but would rather act on them by articulating and perforating them topologically as in the Klein bottle or in the y Möbius strip, where exterior
and interior in-determine each other. In this new space, European
cities would rediscover their ancient vocation of
cities of the world by entering into a relation of reciprocal extraterritoriality. As I write this essay, 425
Palestinians expelled by the state of Israel find themselves in a sort of no-man’s-land. These men certainly constitute, accord ing to Hannah
Arendt’s suggestion, ‘the vanguard of their people’. But that
is so not necessarily or not merely in the sense that they
might form the originary nucleus of a future national state, or in the sense that they might solve the Palestinian
question in a way just as insufficient as the way in which Israel has solved the Jewish question. Rather, the no-man’s-land in which they are reff
f ugees has already started from this very moment to act back onto the territory of the state of Israel by perforating it and altering it in such a
way that the image of that snowy mountain has become more internal to it than any other region of Eretz Israel. Only
in a world in
which the spaces of states have been thus perforated and topologically deformed and in which the
citizen has been able to recognize the refugee that he or she is – only in such a world is the political
survival of humankind today thinkable.
Affirm thanatopolitics that focuses politics on the recognition of death
Murphy 2008 (Stuart, a scholar at Ryerson university, “Thanatopolitics: Reading in Agamben a
Rejoinder to Biopolitical Life”, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies Vol. 5, No. 2, June 2008,
In the space that remains, I will take up the question of death in order to protest the biopolitical logic that continues to define its terms. I
believe that Agamben’s conception of biopolitics is not radical enough because it is informed by the logic of the exception*essentially a juridical
logic derived from Schmitt. Agamben states that the exception is an inclusive-exclusion or an exclusive-inclusion,9 both included and excluded
from the juridical.10 Here the juridical appears to be more originary and encompassing than the political. This follows from what some might
call a problematic reading of Aristotle on Agamben’s part, and so I will return to Aristotle to suggest how
both the living and the
dead fall within the sphere of the political, marking a ‘‘threshold’’ (one of Agamben’s frequently used terms) that is
perhaps not just within the sovereign’s power to bridge juridically. In other words, Aristotle’s more radical
conception of the political allows us to see how death exceeds, in some sense, the juridical logic of the
exception. Following recent work,11 we might look toward what I would call the productive bafflement of death as a
way to interrupt, to momentarily suspend, or to meaningfully subvert biopolitical logic through
thanatopolitics . While space does not here permit a full discussion of whether Aristotle includes zoe¯ within the sphere of the political, it
is worth citing a passage that Agamben himself cites when he distinguishes ‘‘the simple fact of living’’
from ‘‘politically qualified life,’’12 zoe¯ from bios. The polis, according to Aristotle, ‘‘comes into being
for the sake of living [tou ze¯n], but continues to be for the sake of living well [tou eu ze¯n].’’13 Thus, it is the
good life, happiness, or Aristotelian eudaimonia that binds a community together, and sustains that
community over time as a polis, politically. While Agamben begins with and focuses exclusively on life and its negation
through juridical decisionism (‘‘to take life or let live’’), it is important to note that for the Ancient Greeks life and death go hand-in-hand. Attic
tragedy makes this clear, and we glimpse this in Aristotle, too, when he reflects on eudaimonia in the Nicomachean Ethics. Should eudaimonia
be attributed to the dead? While he defines eudaimonia as virtuous activity of the soul, and thus not properly a part of death, Aristotle
nevertheless admits that he is baffled when describing what causes eudaimonia: ‘‘It would be odd ... if the dead man were to share in these
changes and become at one time happy, at another wretched; while it would also be odd if the fortunes of the descendants did not for some
time have some effect on the happiness of their ancestors.’’14 Certainly,
these effects make sense if we believe that our
honors and disgraces are intimately entwined with those of our friends and relatives, both living and
dead. Surely we lose some of our humanity if we see death as no more than the cessation or negation of
life, little more than the registration and identification of determinate biometrical data . Indeed, Aristotle
proceeds to claim that we who are living must be mindful of our actions and how they will affect the dead
because to fail to do so would be ‘‘too unfriendly [lian aphilon]’’ and would contravene accepted beliefs .15
Eudaimonia seems to
cross the threshold of life and death, suggesting a kind of political agency in death
itself , a power that might act on us to bind together or to sustain a living community in friendship and shared beliefs and values. While
we might deride or dismiss this as ancient superstition, w e must wonder why we turn our faces from the
dead, why the Bush Administration forbids us to see images of the war dead, why they cover up
photographs from Abu Ghraib and Guanta´namo, and why there is a taboo against the defilement of
the dead. And what should we make of those lives that are martyred and exalted only in death? How are they
memorialized? Do we not have a responsibility, a calling, a regard for the dead ? Might this ethic promise
an alternative political representation, one that refuses the negation of embodied experience and
challenges the seemingly absolute morality of biopolitical life ? A politics of death might, then, be a
strategy for the productive rethinking of biopolitics, from the technological apparatus that kills to the
media apparatus that defines its terms and mobilizes public perception and morality. Agamben writes:
the State cannot tolerate in any way ... is that the singularities form a community without
affirming an identity, that humans co-belong without any representable condition of belonging.’’16
Across the threshold that separates life and death, we might accept the living and the dead as co-belonging in such a
way that thwarts the concretion of identity, identity politics, and representability. We might appreciate in
death a pre-political community ethic that is more than the negation of life or the moral failure to live, more than the production of biopolitical
life that is presumed to be foundational.
Camp Cartography
Camp Cartography
Rygiel 12 (Kim, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Wilfrid Laurier University
and the Balsillie School of International Affairs and is the Associate Director and research associate with
Laurier’s International Migration Research Centre (IMRC), “Politicizing camps: forging transgressive
citizenships in and through transit”, Citizenship Studies Volume 16, 2012 - Issue 5-6: Citizenship After
Orientalism: An Unfinished Project,
=true, 7/9, DTS)
Here, camp cartographies provide a mirror with which to reflect on our own experiences of community, particularly those formed negatively in
defensive positions around security (from others) and alternative ways in which we can create moments of a positively imbued sense of coming
together. The
point here is not to romanticize or aestheticize the camp but to note that it is not simply a
space of abjection. Instead, camps are places of politics that depend on political, social, economic and
cultural relations forged in time and space. Moreover, they are not spaces outside of citizenship. On
the one hand, camps are constitutive of spaces of belonging and citizenship (of cities, states and the liberal
modern citizen subject) that have been integral to orientalist imaginative geographies. On the other hand, as
these counter-cartographies reveal, camps are also in their own right political spaces in which
individuals forge political, social, cultural and economic relations from which new identities may
emerge. Importantly, it is through transnational networks of solidarity and survival that camps become
politicized spaces in which claims to rights can be made. In so far as these networks cross citizen/non-citizen boundaries
and spaces of legality and illegality, they have the potential to unsettle the orientalist constructions of such
naturally existing binaries. They point, instead, to the political artifice of such constructions as part of
the ongoing political work necessary for denying some access to the privileges of modern citizenship
awarded to the few. Conclusion: forging transgressive citizenships in and through transit What do these camps tell about those
excluded from our spaces and imaginaries of citizenship? What do they say about the relationship of these spaces of exclusion in relation to the
privileged ‘us’ who reside as ‘legal’ citizens in the nation-state and city? If camp spaces are not just ‘other’ to the polis but constitutive of it, and
if camps can be thought of as proto-urban spaces, which are productive of citizenship subjects, in spaces and places deemed to be outside
citizenship, can the study of camps as political and politicized spaces open up the boundaries of modern citizenship? By providing alternative
imaginative geographies, can critical camp cartographies unsettle ideas of belonging, settlement and entitlement, and the illegal/legal, noncitizen/citizen binaries that continue to be used to justify the entitlement of a few against the exclusion of many? As
this article has
argued, such tropes are anything but new. Rather they are inherent to discourses of occidental
citizenship. Occidental citizenship has a long history of (re)producing orientalist imaginative
geographies based on dividing the world’s people into cultural and civilizational groupings and fixing
them in territorial space. From the protection of imperial citizens from ‘barbarian’ cultures to today’s migrant camps, the logic of
occidental citizenship of protecting the ‘civilized’ few from the ‘barbarian’ others persists. However if, as critical cartography
promises, ‘part of our being is becoming’, then producing alternative imaginative geographies that
destabilize and de-orientalize our ways of knowing the world and living in it with others is a first step.
As the examples of critical camp cartographies illustrate, cartography as political strategy makes visible camp spaces
and the lives of those living in them as political and human beings by treating the camp not as a space
of exception but as a social, economic and political space. However, this process of creation is also
one of treating the camp as a politicized space, with the potential to create moments of solidarity
between non-citizen migrants and citizens. In this way, camp cartographies make visible a politics of
connectivity that opens the boundaries of citizenship by dislocating the privileged perspective of the
citizen, fixed in place and space, and the spatial binary of inside/outside (Walker 1993) that structure the
citizen/non-citizen divide. Such new imaginative geographies reveal how these spaces of inclusion and
exclusion are similarly connected through sustained networks (whether social, cultural, political, economic or
administrative) that bridge as much as they separate camp from polis. The increasing visibility of this fact forces those of
‘us’ as ‘citizens’ to consider what Massey (2004) calls ‘geographies of responsibility’ by showing how such
spaces of inclusion and exclusion are linked. Camp cartographies can confront us, as citizens, with questions of how we feel
about such a politics of inequality and exploitation, the foundation of which sustains camp spaces as living spaces for millions just as it provides
entitlements to some of ‘us’ to more resources and rights. Can we still discuss citizenship without looking at it from the position of the many
excluded from it? Do we want to continue to retain an orientalizing logic as the foundational logic of citizenship? This is a logic that justifies
citizenship for the few in the wealthier global north by excluding the many people who are simply in search of better lives and are identified as
being somehow outside of citizenship because they are ‘illegal’, without proper documentation, or because they are somehow not like ‘us’? In
this way, camp cartographies provide de-orientalizing imaginative geographies that make visible the
relational ontology between camp and city and between an ‘us’ and a ‘them’ and point towards what
it might mean to construct new understandings of citizenship based on ‘geographies of responsibility’.
As Weizman (2005) suggests, critically thinking about camps and exceptionality can ‘result in a kind of
geographical slippage that produces new sites of potentiality ... We can set up our own enclaves and we, too, can walk
through walls’.
Shed Legality
The aff advocates to remove legal statuses off of migrants –Only by making
themselves unclassifiable through acts of desperation can the homo sacer find
salvation and throw a wrench in the gears of the state
Ellermann 9 (Antje Ellermann, is an Associate Professor of Political Science (Comparative Politics) and
Director of the Institute for European Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. They
are also the cluster lead for UBC’s newly established Migration Research Excellence Cluster,
“Undocumented Migrants and Resistance in the State of Exception,” Prepared April 2009, Accessed
7.2.18, ) //ZoL
Conclusion This
paper explored the possibility for resistance under conditions of extreme state power. I examined the strategies
of illegal migrants under deportation orders whose existence closely corresponds to Agamben’s notion
of bare life in the state of exception. Threatened with one of the most awesome powers of the sovereign—expulsion—
many migrants strategically shed their legal identity in order to escape the reach of the state . Remarkably,
in doing so they often succeed in preventing the state from exercising its sovereign powers. As Scott has argued,
these strategies of resistance do not amount to acts of empowerment, but are better understood as acts of
desperation . In his study of poor villagers in Malaysia, the wielders of the “weapons of the weak” were able to defy
social sanctioning because their poverty had already robbed them of their dignity. They, like the
migrants in this study, had nothing left to lose . Life in the state of exception does not give rise to acts of
political emancipation for the simple reason that homo sacer cannot make any rights claims against the
state. And yet, the significance of homo sacer’s act of rendering herself unclassifiable, unnamable, and illegible rests exactly on the very
powerlessness of bare life. Unlike the sovereign, homo sacer has nothing left to lose and can act unconstrained by the
fear of the consequences of resistance. Often, these acts of desperation succeed in thwarting social
control. Without a legal identity, migrants cannot be forcefully removed from the territory. Despite the
enormity of sovereign power over those in the state of exception, the state’s hands are tied by its own liberal constitution. Thus, as Foucault’s
concept of biopower indicates, liberal states no longer direct their power toward the destruction, but rather the
preservation of life. Even when confronted with acts of resistance that threaten its sovereignty, the state cannot resort to the
unchecked use of physical force or indefinitely deprive individuals of their freedom. We could refer to
this scenario as a “reverse state of exception,” at the danger of overstating the force of individual resistance and underplaying
the scope of state power. This discussion of the identity-stripping strategies of illegal migrants describes a situation where homo sacer
suspends the routine state-individual relationship by withholding her cooperation and compliance. The
state , by contrast, is constrained in countering these acts of resistance and is oftentimes powerless to
secure the individuals’ obedience. Because in liberal democracies order so pervasively rests on voluntary compliance,
sovereign power reaches an impasse where the state can no longer offer meaningful incentives to
secure compliance. Ironically, then, it is those who hold no claims against the state that are most able to
frustrate state control.
Homo Sacer
The concept of the non-human homo sacer is necessary to interrogate the foundations
of antiblackness and social death
Basevich 12 (Elvira, Ph.D. in Philosophy at The Graduate Center, CUNY,” Foucauldian Resonances:
Agamben On Race, Citizenship, And The Modern State”, Sofia Philosophical Review, VOL 6 No.2, 2012,
Given the connection between homo sacer, bare life, and race, we
can use Agamben’s framework to shed some light on
the way discourses around non-white peoples in the United States historically took form. According to
Agamben, bare life is not fully human life. In the Aristotelian framework, bare life as zoe is associated with the merely perceptive soul of plants
and animals. Politically
zoe signifies total lack of civilization, rationality, and morality. In affirming African
Americans as bare life, these discourses associated them with the chaos of nature, which is exactly the
kind of racial stereotype that has shadowed African Americans for centuries. For example, one could argue that
the ascription of bare life by sovereign power promoted racial stereotypes about the hyper-sexualized,
animal-like black man and the brawny Amazon black woman . The portrayal of black life as subhuman
in turn served to justify blacks’ slavery and their subsequent systematic disenfranchisement from
social, economic, and political life . These racial narratives make sense in the context of Agamben’s
analysis of homo sacer, for the latter by definition is not fully human.
helped push certain racial
groups into the category of the sacred and the category then informed the racial stereotypes
surrounding them . Agamben emphasizes that the judgment of the physical body is “immediately political”
such that race “is not a biological given” but a contingent historical construction . He also writes that race is not
evinced by “measurable characteristics.”35 The new modern emphasis on biological heritage, which as a political category often
transcends any “measurable characteristics,” affirms difference (as subhuman degeneracy) at a more
fundamental, almost metaphysical, level. Although the biological is “immediately” politicized, what Agamben fails to see is the
consequences of that politicization “stick” when it comes to racial differences, especially when biopolitics serves to
integrate groups into a racial hierarchy that is linked to the founding of the state.36 The
normative racial group that has full
citizenship reflects the founding moment of the state when sovereign power “decided” on the racial
makeup of its legitimate and illegitimate members . From the point of view of the biopolitical state, there is a sense in
which the citizen and the sacred one are two different substances by virtue of their racialization, even
though both are equally political constructions of sovereign power. At the inception of the United States, for
example, the politicization of black life served to construct and affirm their racial identity in opposition to
the “legitimate” citizen and at the same grounded their exclusion from the state as fundamentally
different, inferior, and non-human beings. This puts not only blacks, but also other non-white immigrants in a more
precarious position with regard to the category of the sacred in the United States.
The discourse of racism and exclusion is used as a tool by sovereign power to exclude
certain bodies in order to create a racially homogenous citizenry – only an
interrogation of sovereign power can stop the weaponization of racial discourse
Basevich 12 (Elvira, Ph.D. in Philosophy at The Graduate Center, CUNY,” Foucauldian Resonances:
Agamben On Race, Citizenship, And The Modern State”, Sofia Philosophical Review, VOL 6 No.2, 2012,
Once the sovereign model of power collapsed, warlike social and political relations emerged. The unity between the people and the state
disintegrated. The people
stopped identifying themselves with sovereign right and enlisted history as a
weapon for contesting it, seeking political recognition based on their own unique social, historical, and political differences. Foucault
writes that these struggles invoked the concept of race and ethnicity as a means for undermining state
power, but these invocations were discontinuous and decentralized. “The discourse of race struggle…when it first appeared and
began to function in the seventeenth century was essentially an instrument used in a struggle waged by
decentered camps.”10 People began to speak from outside sovereign power – “from the side that is in
darkness, from within the shadows”11 – and offered their own politico-historical formulation of their
identities, which amounted to a type of discourse that sought to affirm their race or ethnicity. In being
discontinuous and decentralized, these discourses on race were not seeking hegemony and did not desire to take over
sovereign power as the new governing body. According to Foucault, with the emergence of modernity, the relationship between
the discourse of race and the state takes on a perverse form. The modern state harnesses the
discourse of race, which was once used to contest it, in order to bolster its legitimacy and power . “Race
becomes the discourse of a centered, centralized, and centralizing power.”12 This new form of governmental rationality
demonstrates the “polyvalent mobility” of race discourses. 13 Discourses do not have an essential
meaning . A discourse that was at one historical moment progressive and challenged state power in another historical moment could be
recuperated by the state and used to extend its legitimacy and power. The
state began to employ a master narrative of
race , arguing that the flourishing of the social whole required that the body politic maintain a single,
clearly defined racial identity. Part of the functioning of the state was to disenfranchise or altogether eliminate
the social elements that undermined the state’s racial homogeneity . Although Foucault focuses on continental
Europe in the mid20th century, his analysis of the connection between the modern state and racism is not limited to Fascist states. He argues
that the
normative foundation of the modern liberal state also makes substantive assumptions about
the race of the “legitimate” citizenry that constitutes its body politic, for both the Fascist state and the liberal state
share a biopolitical model of governmentality that distinguishes legitimate from illegitimate members on the basis of
race. Maintaining a homogenous racial identity requires tremendous state intervention into the dayto-day lives of the citizenry at the biopolitical level. The state and doctors collude to monitor the birth and
mortality rates, mental illnesses, and genetic heritage of the citizenry. Various statistics are kept and disciplines, government
committees, and institutional practices are invented that oversee the biological makeup of the citizenry. These kind
of governmental practices “create” an ideal population that at the same time identifies themselves as the state’s
legitimate subjects and right bearers. The historical moment when the modern state begins to use the hegemonic
discourse of race is also the point at which biological racism takes shape and the kind of state racism
that characterizes the Nazi state emerges . Although not all modern states endorse such an explicit and extreme form of
racism, Foucault thinks that the normative foundation of the state, including liberal constitutional democracies, at least
tacitly embrace racist (and racializing) forms of political power as a way of “normalizing” society. Foucault
describes this development: [Race] become[s] the discourse of a battle that has to be waged…by a race that is portrayed as the
one true race, the race that holds power and is entitled to define the norm, and against those who deviate
from the norm, against those who pose a threat to the biological heritage. At this point, we have all those
biological-racist discourses of degeneracy, but also all those institutions within the social body which make the
discourse of race struggle function as a principle of exclusion and segregation and, ultimately, as a
way of normalizing society .14 Charged with the defense of the “biological heritage” of the state, modern governmental
rationality seeks to define and safeguard the “true race.” The disciplinary practices of institutions ensure that citizens
conform to and ultimately identify with racial norms. “ Subraces ” that fall outside the normalizing master discourse on race are
excluded as “illegitimate” members of the biopolitical state.
at the point of the intersection of biopolitics and governmentality.”15 The
“Foucault’s genealogy of racism is thus situated precisely
biopolitical model of power underpins the
functioning of a state whose essential objective is to distinguish “them” from “us,” enabling the
flourishing of the social whole . Modern racism is characterized by an internal bifurcation of those who
are part of the social whole and those who are outside of it. Governmental rationality consequently
acquires a new objective in modernity: “To defend ourselves against society.” The state is to defend society
against “all the biological threats posed by the other race, subrace, and the counterrace.”16 The latter, in a totalitarian state, which is
completely permeated by the biopolitical model of power, must die in order to preserve the unity of the social whole. In a liberal state, they
often suffer a social, economic, and political death as the dregs of society.
The state of exception forms bare like which depoliticizes and dehumanizes bodies –
only an interrogation of this allows political inclusion to be extended
Basevich 12 (Elvira, Ph.D. in Philosophy at The Graduate Center, CUNY,” Foucauldian Resonances:
Agamben On Race, Citizenship, And The Modern State”, Sofia Philosophical Review, VOL 6 No.2, 2012,
Contrary to the thinking of the ancient Greeks and Arendt, Agamben claims that the exclusion of bare life from politics actually serves to
politicize, rather than depoliticize, it. Exclusion is “inclusive” because the ban
on bare life provides a particular normative
standard of humanity. The latter mediates access to the privileges and protections of the state
through citizenship. Sovereign power judges man’s physical being (zoe) and on that basis decides who
merits the privileges and protections of full citizenship (bios). “In the ‘politicization’ of bare life – the
metaphysical task par excellence – the humanity of living man is decided.”18 The implication is that those
who are not accorded full citizenship are not fully human. Those who fall outside the normative model of
humanity are politically, socially, and economically disenfranchised ; this disenfranchisement also constitutes a type of
integration. As the juridical order withdraws from the lives of the people who fall into the category of homo sacer, biopolitics steps in and
regulates the lives of these people. For Agamben, however, biopolitics is usually the politics of death and dying,
rather than life. For his focus is on totalitarian states, in which biopolitical regulation usually results in the use of a state apparatus of death.
The politicization of bare life justifies the annihilation of the group of people that sovereign power decides as being
merely bare life and not fully human. Once natural life is exposed to the judgment of sovereign power it becomes bare life. As Catherine
Mills puts it, The question arises, then, of how life itself or natural life is politicized. The answer to this question is through abandonment to an
unconditional power of death, that is, the power of sovereignty. It is in this abandonment of natural life to sovereign violence…that “bare life”
makes its appearance. For bare life is not natural life per se— though it often confused with it in critical readings of Agamben, partly as a
consequence of Agamben’s own inconsistency—but rather, it is the politicized form of natural life.19 Bare
life is what is subject to
“sovereign violence” without disturbing the juridical order, for bare life by definition falls outside it. Agamben equates
biopolitics with thanatopolitics because part of the essential expression of biopolitical power involves deciding who will live and who will die
insofar as one fails to meet sovereign power’s standard of humanity.20 The assessment of political
worth in general begins with
a judgment of the physical body and mediates the value of natural life as such.21 As with Foucault’s conception
of biopolitical governmentality, this results in the collusion of the state and doctors “in which the physician and the sovereign seem to exchange
roles.”22 The state intervenes to assess the health of its (potential) citizens. Its treatment
of the mentally ill, the terminally
sick, and others with a physical handicap are good examples of how biopolitics works in the modern context.
The totalitarian state exterminates a group of people who threaten the “health” of the state, whereas
a liberal society sanctions the systematic oppression and disenfranchisement of a group of people by,
for example, defunding mental health institutions and privatizing access to health care. In both the liberal and the
totalitarian state, there is a sense in which bare life is produced by sovereign power.23 Which groups become associated
with bare life is a result of sovereign power’s judgment. The category of bare life is thus as politically mediated as the category of citizenship.
Bare life is no closer to “nature” than are juridical constructions such as citizenship. Bare life should not be confused with the natural life of zoe;
it is zoe politicized. It is a political ascription divvied out by sovereign power. Biopolitics often uses natural fitness as the model for humanity. It
invokes the concepts of able-bodiedness, pure genetic heritage, and general physiological vigor as the
grounds for its evaluation of people. However, this model is a political construction and flourishes only within a certain constellation of political
power – one founded on biopolitics. Like Foucault, Agamben shows how the
concept of humanity as such is constructed and
mediated by political power. 24 He illustrates how through the normalizing effects of biopower, certain subjects or
populaces are constituted that either conform or fail to conform to the standard of humanity
sovereign power proffers. Agamben characterizes the category of the sacred in multiple ways. He sometimes thinks of it as referring
to an isolated group: the euthanized, Jews under fascism, and the mentally and terminally ill . He also thinks of it in
terms of the discontinuous effects of sovereign power insofar as the sacred is “disseminated into every individual
body.”25 Each person as a citizen still carries within themselves their kernel of “bare life” – physical
existence as such, which is mediated by political structures, including citizenship, law, and rights. But
those political structures cannot expel our bit of bare life. Sovereign power continuously redefines the normative
standard of humanity. Its designation of homo sacer is not fixed. Because everyone carries within themselves their
kernel of bare life, we all run the risk of falling into the category of those who must die. It is in this sense that Agamben thinks that we are all
“living dead men [and women], [and potentially the] new sacred ones.”26
Perm do both – Destituent power cultivates new political identities that exist in
opposition to the sovereign in labor
Dey 16 (Pascal, Grenoble Ecole de Management and University of St. Gallen, “Destituent
entrepreneurship: disobeying sovereign rule, prefiguring post-capitalist reality”, Entrepreneurship &
Regional Development, Online:, 7/11, DTS)
This form of disobedience (referred to in political theory as constituent power; Laudani 2013) does not correspond to the events in Argentina,
since the worker-occupied enterprises did not – at least during the initial stages – try to reform the sovereign structures with the aim of
creating a better constitution. Quite
the contrary, the worker-occupied enterprises symbolize a form of
disobedience characterized by a general desire to withdraw from the impeding influence of the
neoliberal state by deactivating and suspending its official norms and rules. This is what Agamben
(2014) refers to as destituent power. Central to destituent power is an understanding of disobedience
as the outright rejection of the legitimacy of sovereign rule and its politico-juridical apparatus. Destituent
power thus describes a revolutionary Entrepreneurship & Regional Development moment characterized by resistance to official norms and
sovereign rule (Laudani 2013). Destituent
power attends to ‘goals such as outright political independence or
the freedom to live with dignity and without the violent imposition of force by the powerful’ (Franceschet
2015, 241). The defining moment of destituent power is a kind of disobedience predicated on resistance.
Whilst reflected in their slogan ‘Occupy, Resist, Produce’, which the workers had borrowed from the Brazilian landless movement, moments of
resistance became manifest at different levels and during different stages of the occupations. Resisting bankruptcy orders and reclaiming the
right to work To begin with, resistance
in the case of the occupied enterprises was actualized when the
workers, who had been excluded from their officially bankrupt enterprises, reopened the enterprises
to resume work. The general reasoning of the occupants was that the abandoned enterprises implicitly belonged to society because
many of them had received state subsidies, tax exemptions and other forms of government assistance prior to their fraudulent close-downs
(Cole 2007). Since
the workers construed the enterprises as public assets as they had been supported by
taxpayer money, the occupations in their view merely signified the exercise of their right to work.
Succinctly put, by taking control of the means of production, workers were effectively ‘taking back’
what they thought belonged to them already. Looked at in this way, it becomes clear that the
occupations resisted sovereign rule by refusing to accept the bankruptcy orders it had issued. However,
resuming work by claiming access to the means of production is by no means a straightforward endeavour. For instance, workers were
perpetually struggling to put their factories on a sound footing (Ranis 2006), faced difficulties in gaining access to capital and in establishing
relationships with the formal economy which in part had become reluctant to work and trade with the occupants. However, perhaps the main
challenge to the liberation of the economic realm was the workers’ own sense of identity and self-perception.
The need for new
identities: from workers to resistant entrepreneurs Workers’ sense of who they were was so deeply
rooted in a wage-labour logic that it was very difficult for many to envision any other life trajectory.
Having been used to working for a wage, workers suddenly became part of a revolutionary moment of which they probably never thought they
would be part (Marti and Fernandez 2015). As the following extract shows, workers were at times overwhelmed by the revolutionary prospect
the occupations had opened up and notably by the inescapable transition from worker to resistant entrepreneurs: ‘If they [the bosses] had
come to us with 50 pesos and told us to show up for work tomorrow, we would have done just that’ (Gibson-Graham 2006, xxxv). The
ability to participate in this revolutionary moment, and to contribute to the widening of the field of
economic possibilities, implied a need on the part of the workers to cultivate a new sense of identity
which would permit them to resist and transcend norms of authority and hierarchy that had hitherto
informed their sense of being. Monteagudo’s (2008) ethnographic study of the recovered balloon factory La Nueva Esperanza (The
New Hope) is instructive here as it reveals how female workers learned to experience themselves as efficacious beings capable of voicing and
asserting their interests and perspectives. The
decision to occupy their enterprise literally pushed the female
workers into believing in and trusting their own entrepreneurial capabilities. The revolutionary act of
occupying their enterprise allowed them to grasp ‘the possibility of becoming something other than
wages-workers 8 P. Dey relegated to spending life producing for others within the capital-labor relation’ (Vieta 2014, 784). Looked at
from the perspective of destituent power, we can see that the workers re-invented themselves as
‘resistant entrepreneurs’ who refused to endorse normative assumptions of labour, hierarchy and
coercion, understanding that cultivating a novel political identity capable of pushing back against
sovereign rule was imperative for liberating their economic reality . Resisting court decisions and ex-proprietors
Perhaps one of the clearest examples of resistance emerged as a reaction to police violence perpetrated in the context of forced evictions. An
exemplary case is provided by the workers of Brukman, a textile company in Buenos Aires, who had taken over their enterprise in 2001 after
the owners had fled the indebted company (North and Huber 2004). Approximately a year after the workers’ occupation, the police took over
the enterprise on the authority of a court order to reclaim the machinery. The workers, mainly women, who were present at the enterprise
were immediately arrested. According to the theory of destituent power, expelling the workers from their premises signifies attempts to reestablish order within society. However, only a few hours after the arrests, supporters of the Brukman workers as well as various activists and
human rights groups arrived on site to protest against the forced eviction and the detention of the female workers. The protests resulted in the
withdrawal of the police forces and the release of the arrested workers. And even though various eviction attempts by the police followed, the
Brukman workers were ultimately successful in retaining control over the enterprise and even received legal permission to return to their
enterprise (Rossi 2015). While Brukman offers an illuminating example of how workers were able to push back police forces, it cannot be
stressed enough that resistance was a collective endeavour that strongly relied upon the support from the communities. As one worker of
Chilavert, a book publishing firm, reminds us: It [the enterprise] wasn’t won merely by its eight workers […] It was also won by the neighbours,
the teacher, the plumber, the grandmother for the neighbourhood who came out and fought off the police, who helped stop the eviction
attempt. (Huff-Hannon 2004) This anecdote draws attention to how destituent power entails the rise of a collective will that refuses to
succumb to sovereign rule. This
collective will only emerges occasionally during moments of crisis (Agamben
2000). To summarize, what the concept of destituent power allows us to see is how workers turned
into resistant entrepreneurs who, with the support of the community, fought against the debilitating
effect of the official order (i.e. courts, governments, the police force and ex-proprietors) and who occupied the abandoned
enterprises to reclaim their right to work.
Only through analyzing the state of exception can a power analysis that takes into
account both governmentality and sovereignty can function
De Boever 09 (Arne, PhD Columbia, teaches American Studies in the School of Critical Studies at the
California Institute of the Arts, where he also directs the School’s MA Program in Aesthetics and Politics,
“Agamben and Marx: Sovereignty, Governmentality, Economy” , Springer Institute, 8/11/09,
The Capitalist Relation, Governmentality, Sovereignty As is well known, Michel Foucault started using the term bio-power in his lectures at
the Colle`ge de France in Paris in the mid-nineteen seventies. He used it to refer to a kind
of power that is ‘focused on the
species body, the body imbued with the mechanics of life and serving as the basis of biological processes: propagation, births and
mortality, the level of health, life expectancy and longevity […]’ (Foucault 1990, p. 139). Bio-power was a key term in Foucault’s analysis of what
he called governmentality, or the ways in which power regulates the life of the population, for example, through
marriage laws, by regulating commerce, changing people’s moral and religious values, etc. Unlike disciplinary power, which is ‘centered on the
body as machine: its disciplining, the optimization of its capabilities, the extortion of its forces, the parallel increase of its usefulness and
docility, its integration into systems of efficient and economic controls’ (p. 139) and sovereignty, which is concerned with territory and imposes
laws on people to protect the government against both civil war and external enemies,
governmentality aspires to security. A
government is secure when the population, through the ways in which its life is organised, guarantees
the continuation of power. As Foucault explains, security does not aim to control in this disciplinary or
sovereign way, but operates through laissez-faire. It does not force power onto the people, but aims to
make the people live in such a way that the organisation of their lives contributes to the consolidation of power (see Foucault 2007). Both in the
lectures and elsewhere, Foucault maintains an analytical
separation— stricter in some texts than in others—between the
different concepts he defines, for example, between discipline and security, or between
governmentality and sovereignty. Whereas discipline is centripetal and aims for final control, security is centrifugal and
operates through laissez-faire. Whereas sovereignty imposes laws on people, governmentality disposes things,
specifically people in their relation to things such as natural resources, riches, etc . The idea here is not so much
that these different modes of power are actually separate, or would chronologically supersede each other, but that they operate
at the same time .1 In order to understand the dynamics of power, one needs to take recourse to
these analytical distinctions, even though actual power relations can never be reduced to one mode
of power that would be fully separate from another . When in the lectures, Foucault argued that capitalism is bio-political,
he thus implied
that as a power relation, it should be understood as a predominantly governmental
relation (see Foucault 2004). Although such an argument has taught us much about capitalism that would otherwise have remained in the
dark, it also partly risks forgetting the ways in which sovereignty is implicated in capitalism. Sovereignty is, in fact, an essential
part of the prehistory of capital as Karl Marx tells it in the section in Capital entitled ‘So-called Primitive Accumulation’. The
capitalist relation demands an analysis of power that would integrate the different concepts and kinds
of power that Foucault defines.2 In this essay, I will reconsider Marx’ prehistory of capital through the lens of the work of Giorgio
Agamben who, in the wake of Foucault, has proposed a biopolitical theory of sovereign power in order to draw
attention to the ways in which governmentality and sovereignty operate together . Although Agamben
mentions Marx only once in his study of sovereign power,3 I will argue that his study nevertheless contributes to our
understanding of the capitalist relation as not only a governmental but also a sovereign power
relation. My aim is not just to highlight the presence of sovereignty in Marx’ prehistory of capital, or to draw attention to the Marxist
dimension of Agamben’s work, but also to explore a mode of power analysis that would integrate the concepts and
kinds of power that Foucault defines. As Judith Butler has argued, such integrated modes of analysis are of crucial
importance today, when we are witnessing a return of sovereignty within the field of
governmentality, as the power to suspend national and international law in the name of national
security or a national emergency .4 In the first part of this essay, I show that the proletariat in Marx is a figure of what Agamben in
his study of sovereign power calls bare life. I do so not by considering bare life through the lens of Marx’ theory of value (which is another
interesting track to pursue) but through a philological commentary on the adjective that Marx uses again and again to characterise the
proletariat and that partly gets lost in the English translation of his text, namely the word ‘vogelfrei’ or ‘free, rightless, without protection,
This sovereign dimension of the capitalist relation is also substantiated, as I show in the second part of
the essay, by Marx’ analysis of the logic of the capitalist relation as that of the exception. After Carl Schmitt, who wrote that ‘sovereign is who
Agamben has argued that the logic of the exception
is the logic of sovereign power. Reconsidered through the lens of Agamben’s argument, Marx’
decides on the state of exception’ (Schmitt 1985, p. 5; trans. mod.)5 ,
account of the prehistory of capital reveals that there is a sovereign logic of the exception at work in
the capitalist relation.
It is this
logic that produces the proletariat as a figure of bare life. In the final part of
the essay, I start from Agamben’s single reference to Marx in his study of sovereign power to discuss the importance of these conclusions for
Agamben’s political message, specifically for the acts of divine violence that he is calling for in response to the problems of sovereign power
that he analyses.
Starting from the point of bare life allows for struggles from the proletarian subject
De Boever 09 (Arne, PhD Columbia, teaches American Studies in the School of Critical Studies at the
California Institute of the Arts, where he also directs the School’s MA Program in Aesthetics and Politics,
“Agamben and Marx: Sovereignty, Governmentality, Economy” , Springer Institute, 8/11/09,
Agamben calls the life that is produced in the camps at the borders of the sovereign territory ‘bare
life’. He uses this term to refer to a life stripped of all its qualities except for the mere fact of being alive. Bare life
is the ultimate biopolitical substance: it is life that is produced—excreted, one could say—by sovereign power.
Although this ultimately erases the concrete differences between a citizen and a refugee, Agamben will polemically assert that all
life (both that of a citizen and of a refugee) relates to sovereign power as bare life. His work is filled with figures of bare life.
The most important one, which he also uses as the title of his book on sovereign power (Agamben 1998), he takes from Roman law: homo sacer
or the holy person. Contrary to what one may expect, the holy
person was a person who was in between human law
and divine law and could be killed but not sacrificed. What interests Agamben about this figure is that s/he could be
killed with impunity, without the killing being considered a crime. As an outlaw figure, the holy person belonged
to the legal and political order of the Roman Empire by being excluded from it. Although Agamben does not
discuss this, I want to argue that the proletariat in Marx is a figure of what Agamben calls bare life. Excavating this relationship can contribute
much to our understanding of the capitalist relation as a power relation. The relation between the holy person and the proletariat becomes
visible in the first volume of Marx’ Capital in a section entitled ‘So-called Primitive Accumulation.’ In this section, Marx describes the historical
process through which the producers (the workers) were divorced from the means of production. As he points out, this process produced a
kind of freedom around which two kinds of commodity owners arose: on the one hand, ‘the owners of money, means of production, and
means of subsistence’; and, on the other, the ‘free workers, sellers of their own labor-power, and therefore the sellers of labor’ (Marx 1990, p.
874). As Marx
tells the story, what was produced during this prehistory of capital was a kind of life:
whereas human life used to be a part of the means of production, it is now split from the means of
production, a split through which it enters into a freedom that Marx understands to be the absence of
a protection that was guaranteed by the structures of feudalism. All the guarantees of the old feudal relations
suddenly fell away and what remained was an extremely vulnerable kind of life that existed in between the dying feudalist and the emerging
capitalist orders. It is not difficult to see how what Marx is describing can be read as an example of what Foucault called governmentality, and
specifically of bio-politics.7 The prehistory of capital tells the story of how people’s lives are being reorganised in such a way that they
contribute to the consolidation of the new capitalist order. This reorganisation pertains to the biological life of the people, the life of the
population, which is produced as bio-political substance by the emerging capitalist order. This reorganisation is not forced on the people but
actually operates through laissez-faire, by creating the desire for freedom that then leads to the people’s expropriation .
But to limit
one’s analysis of capitalism as a power relation to governmentality and biopolitics , i.e. to forget about
the role that sovereignty plays within these developments, would mean to overlook an important
dimension of the prehistory that Marx narrates. Consider for example, how Marx describes the group of people—the ‘class
that does not form a class’—that capitalism’s bio-politics produces, the proletariat. Of the forty instances of the word ‘proletariat’ or
‘proletarian’ in the first volume of Capital, nineteen occur in the section on so-called primitive accumulation; in seven of those nineteen
instances the word is accompanied by the adjective ‘vogelfrei’. Ben Fowkes variously translates ‘vogelfrei’ as ‘free’, ‘rightless’, ‘unattached’, or
‘unprotected’. Although the word is highly idiomatic and poses some difficulties for the translator, Fowkes does not comment on it until the
beginning of the chapter on bloody legislation, where he adds the note: ‘Here, as elsewhere, Marx
uses the word ‘‘vogelfrei,’’
literally ‘‘free as a bird,’’ i.e. free but outside of the human community and therefore entirely
unprotected and without legal rights’ (p. 896). Although Fowkes’ translations of ‘vogelfrei’ are of course correct, it also needs to
be noted that the dictionary translation of the word is ‘outlawed’, a word that in combination with the other translations
that Fowkes offers begins to reveal the connection between the proletariat and the holy person. This
connection can be made more substantive by adding a few historical etymological remarks about the word ‘vogelfrei’. According to most
dictionaries, it means both ‘frei von Herrschaftsdiensten, frei wie ein Vogel in der Luft’ (‘free from [feudalist] servitude, free as a bird in the sky’;
end of the 15th century) and also ‘rechtlos, ohne gesetzlichen Schutz, gea¨chtet’ (‘rightless, without legal protection, outlawed’; 16th century)
(Etymologisches Wo¨rterbuch des Deutschen 1989, p. 1916). From the 16th century onwards, this second semantic component becomes
dominant, which means that by the time that Marx is writing (1867), even though he is of course also interested in the word’s meaning ‘free
from servitude’, its primary meaning is actually that of ‘outlawed’ or ‘free, rightless, unprotected’. It thus seems that for Marx, the proletariat is
a figure of a legal and political abandonment in which Agamben is also interested. The literal meaning of the word ‘vogelfrei’ underlines the biopolitical dimension of this abandonment. It literally means ‘den Vo¨geln (zum Frasse) freigegeben, da dem Ko¨rper eines Gea¨chteten das Grab
versagt wurde’ (‘free for the birds to be eaten, since the body of an outlawed person could not be buried’) (1916). The relation between the
proletariat and the holy person becomes most explicit in Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s explanation of the word: ‘exlex … verbannet … expositus
ad necem’ (‘outside the law … banned … exposed to death’); ‘dem ko¨rper eines gea¨chteten wird das grab versagt mit der sich mehr und mehr
vordra¨ngenden vorstellung dasz der gea¨chtete der to¨tung ausgesetzt ist und nicht behaust werden darf’ (‘the body of an outlawed person
cannot be buried, with the more and more foregrounded idea that the outlawed person can be killed and cannot be put up in one’s house’)
(Wo¨rterbuch et al. 1951, pp. 408–409). This last semantic component actually works well with another figure of bare life that I mentioned
earlier on, the refugee. These philological
notes reveal that the proletariat is related to the holy person. They
show that the life of the proletariat is conceived by Marx as a kind of life that can be killed with
impunity, without the killing being considered a crime. This is the situation that is evoked by the adjective ‘vogelfrei’. On
basis of Agamben’s study of bare life, which considers this kind of life to be inextricably related to
sovereignty, one can thus begin to see that there is something sovereign about the capitalist relation
as a power relation . As I show in the next section of this essay, this is not only because the proletariat is a figure of bare life, but also
because capitalism acts in the ways that sovereignty does, i.e. through the logic of exception.
Capitalism came to being through extralegal actions through states of exception -- the
permutation’s analysis is key to break down both structures
De Boever 09 (Arne, PhD Columbia, teaches American Studies in the School of Critical Studies at the
California Institute of the Arts, where he also directs the School’s MA Program in Aesthetics and Politics,
“Agamben and Marx: Sovereignty, Governmentality, Economy” , Springer Institute, 8/11/09,
Capitalism Operates Through the Logic of the Exception ‘Sovereign is who decides on the state of exception’, Schmitt
wrote at the beginning of Political Theology. Agamben starts from there in order to formulate the paradox of sovereign power: in
order to declare that there is nothing outside the law, the sovereign needs to take up a position
outside the law, i.e. s/he needs to except him/ herself from the law in order to take up a place from where the legal
order can be founded and suspended. According to Schmitt, the logic of the exception is that of theology. The sovereign relates to the law from
a transcendental position of exception. That the law contains the sovereign possibility of its own suspension also means that human life relates
to sovereign power through the exception. Its position in relation to the law is not a transcendental one, however, but a bio-political position of
subjection. Agamben’s aim is to dismantle the device of the state
of exception through which life has been brought
within the law, and through which politics has been eclipsed by bio-politics. Marx’ use of the word ‘vogelfrei’
reveals his interest in the relation of the proletariat to the law. But he also discusses the relation of the capitalist to
the law. What he describes in the prehistory of capital is, basically, how capitalism came into being through a series of
exceptional measures that are situated at the limit of the legal order. The prehistory of capital was
carried out by legal means, he writes, but ‘without any legal formality’ (Marx 1990, p. 883). It happened
‘without the slightest observance of legal etiquette’ (p. 884). In the end, the law itself became ‘the
instrument by which the people’s land is stolen’ (p. 885); in other words, the law became a capitalist law. As
Marx sees it, the capitalists actually acted like little sovereigns in order to put through their
reorganisation of the lives of the people . They were side-stepping the legal and political order that was
guaranteed by the sovereign in a successful attempt to continue the relation of servitude that existed under feudalism. Although this means
there is a complicity
between sovereignty and capitalism through the ways in which they both operate
according to the logic of exception, it also reveals there is a difference between the two because the capitalists are actually sidestepping a legal order that is guaranteed by the sovereign. This side-stepping move may be a move that is familiar to sovereignty; but it does
not come with sovereignty’s important ethical and political implications. I would argue that the prehistory of capital as Marx tells it actually
opens up new possibilities for sovereignty in the resistance against capitalism, i.e. it gestures to a kind of power that would be greater than
economic power, and would be able to limit and condition the claims of capitalism. Politics emerges here as that which could keep economics
in check. The problem is, however, that both
sovereignty and capitalism suffer from the logic of exception, which
is responsible for political and economic abuses of power. As Marx’ discussion anticipates, the mere granting of
rights— which is arguably associated with capitalism—does not necessarily overcome this problem,
since in the pre-history of capital, it is ultimately the law itself that becomes the instrument of exploitation (see Agamben 2000). Marx’ account
thus does not simply raise the need for law, but for its other uses. Reconsidered through the lens of Agamben’s bio-political theory of sovereign
Marx’ prehistory of capital shows not only that the capitalist relation as a power relation is bio-
political, and that the transition of feudalism to capitalism is an example of what Foucault called
governmentality, but also that sovereignty plays a crucial role in this development . It shows the
capitalists to be acting like little sovereigns, according to the logic of exception. Their actions produce a
figure of bare life, namely the proletariat. In order to understand the capitalist relation as a power relation, we need to
integrate the different kinds of power that Foucault outlines in his lectures at the Colle`ge de France, governmentality and sovereignty. This
insight is particularly important today when we try to understand, for example, a phenomenon like the Guantanamo
Bay prison. In
beings suspected of terrorist activities are being held indefinitely, on the basis of very
little or no evidence, and without the possibility of a civil trial. This prison is not just an example of disciplinary power;
in order to understand its existence, we need to understand the exceptional, sovereign measures taken in the name of
national security that make indefinite detention possible and that produce human life as bare life—a
life stripped of all its qualities, lived in suspense, at the borders of the legal and political order of the
sovereign nation-state. In this last sense, Guantanamo is an example of governmentality. Guantanamo Bay necessitates,
in other words, a much more integrated analysis of power than the one that could all too easily be
derived from the analytical framework Foucault sets up in his lectures.8 As I have tried to emphasise above, this
this prison, human
does not mean such an integrated analysis should erase the differences between discipline, security, sovereignty, bio-politics etc.
Sovereignty is not capitalism; capitalism does not have sovereignty’s important ethical and political
implications; there is a more dramatic relation between both, which opens up possibilities for other
uses of both politics and economy. It is from this insight, I would argue, that we can begin to get a better sense of Agamben’s
political message, which I discuss in the next section of this essay.
Patriarchal power relations sustain the female body as the disposable other,
subjugating them under sovereign rule. Subaltern forms of refusing subjecthood are
key to resisting the patriarchy maintained by sovereign power.
Chakkour 15 (Soukaina, PhD Student, Utrecht University, Erasmus Mundus Master's Degree in
Women's and Gender Studies, “Speaking near Necropolitics: Sovereignty, Geopolitics of Death and
Sexual Difference”, Utrecht University, Online:, 7/6, DTS)
Sexual Difference as a Site for Necropolitics What we can see from Spivak’s insights on the Sati woman – the
good wife – is that both
the colonial powers and the locals deploy systems of power which are both dangerous and which both
produce the same effect on different levels. While for the British, the defacto sovereign over India at the time of colonial
control, they saw no appropriate measure to deal with the Sati woman than to criminalize the practice: this is an exercise of
sovereignty at its best: the institution of a law based on the British’s universalistic logic and rule,
which is also a claim emphasized by Spivak since it demonstrates the operations of hegemony. For the
brown men however, marking women with the obligation of the act of self-immolation links directly to a
practice of a necropolitics which does not necessitate a state of emergency or a State altogether. In
this case, self-immolation is the direct result of an instituted sexual difference based on a subjugated
female subjectivity, one which is already construed as not only other, but a disposable other, whose
life is in fact the life of the master (the male). If the value of the goodness of the woman is to be determined by the act of
voluntary suicide by self-immolation, then the act of abandonment precedes the abandonment itself: these women are already-abandoned, for
their worth, as subjects, is to be determined by their death. Here,
the death of the woman becomes the sole signifier of
their worth, their value. To use Agamben’s term, their bios (their qualified life as the good wife) is in fact their
death, which presents us with a paradoxical situation. The difference that these women bear –their sexual difference– s a
site of a necropower at work, because in their case the only good wife that can exist is a dead wife. We should consider that this is not to put
the Sati practice in condemnation, nor to speak of it in terms of political correctness and universalistic values; but it is to highlight how sexual
difference, here embodied in the female sexed subject, lives a life that is already dead, This is because the
value of the body that immolates itself is already predetermined and already weighed by the Master (the male), the Sati practice can reveal to
us in a sense how a sexual
difference that is inscribed in an order of power that is patriarchal, can easily
become a site of necropolitics. In this case, and as opposed to the example discussed in the previous chapter, we are referring not
to certain spaces or certain geographies, but to an imaginary and a discourse which captures sexual difference politically; and which only
understands the limit of female subjectivity in its extension on the male subject: the death of this latter, after all, is the main reason of the
death of the woman. With
the colonizers, the space that is sexual difference becomes a site of power
negotiation between the white men and the brown men over the brown women. When the British declared
the practice illegal, they captured sexual difference in the order of sovereignty, making it a space of the law. All of this is part of a power
negotiation that, as Spivak rightly concludes, withers away with the female subject altogether. We
can then see from this chapter
that the construction of the other is the primary technology of death that is induced politically. The
deployment of necropower here extends itself upon the female subject and takes sexual difference as its primary material and ground of
operation. And with this reading of a necropolotics of sexual difference, it is therefore necessary to consider other alternatives. Spivak, in her
text, calls for
the reinstitution of representational politics, calling on female intellectuals to reinsert the
forgotten voices of these women. She states that: “representation has not withered away. “The female intellectual as intellectual
has a circumscribed task which she must not disown with a flourish” (Spivak, 1988: 104). With this, Spivak calls onto female
intellectuals to engage with subaltern subjectivities. Such initiatives can be very useful. Nevertheless, the exercise of a
politics of representation can be problematic precisely because of what Spivak highlights in her text: that problem of writing the other by
assimilation, which only contributes to their subjugation. This is the reason why I think that a return to Braidotti’s ideas of the politics of
location and the invention of new female subjectivities is necessary. In line with Spivak’s effort to recuperate lost voices,
emphasizes, as it has been stated earlier in this chapter the importance of the sense of location. She
defines the latter as the attempt to develop a “countermemory” and “alternative genealogies” (Braidotti,
1993: 8), which is precisely what Spivak does in her text. Braidotti, like Spivak, maintains that women do exist in a historical
situation which captures them in a subjugated form. She argues “as women, we are firmly attached to a culture and a logic
of discourse which has historically defined woman, and the feminine, in a pejorative sense” (Braidotti, 1989: 104). Therefore she highlights the
necessity of breaking through this historical condition. As also mentioned earlier, Braidotti sticks to the idea
that being-a-woman is
a point of departure for any change to be made. She admits that the voice (which means the ability to
speak from one’s embodied position) is a central issue in trying to transform the situation of
domination altogether. The transformation for Braidotti, implies the acknowledgment and recognition of the voices of other women.”
(Braidotti, 1993: 4). Spivak calls for the same thing, but she also highlights the female intellectual as the figure who would be reinserting the
voices of these women into history. The issue with Spivak’s proposition lies in the fact that it centers on the figure of the intellectual as the
instrument by which the voice of the female silenced subject is recuperated. This still contains the risk that Spivak tries to highlight all the way
in her text: by speaking for the subaltern, the intellectual risks to shadow the voice of the subaltern. Braidotti, on the other hand, by
resorting to a methodology which refuses the centrality of a certain subjecthood or linearity of
conceptualizing that subjecthood proposes a more consistent methodology in dealing with these
questions. For example, she refers to transdisciplinarity as the “the crossing of disciplinary boundaries without concern for the vertical
distinctions around which they have been organized” (Braidotti; 1993: 3), thus advocating a style which rejects certain
figures of representations. These are important issues to consider and reflect upon, as sexual difference remains trapped in its
destined historical situation, which sometimes can lead to death, or to silence, as we have seen from the example of the Sati. Braidotti states
that “the question for the feminist subject is how to intervene upon the notion of Woman in this historical context, so as to create new
conditions for the becoming-subject of women here and now.” (Braidotti 1993: 9). The
task, therefore is, to precisely figure
out how to become-subject, away from sovereign politics and without being trapped in necropolitical
Utopian Education
Utopian education good – reorientation is key
Zembylas 10 (Michalinos, Assistant Professor of Education at the Open University of Cyprus,
“Agamben's Theory of Biopower and Immigrants/Refugees/Asylum Seekers: Discourses of Citizenship
and the Implications for Curriculum Theorizing”, Journal of Curriculum Theorizing Vol 26, No 2 (2010),
Online:, 7/2, DTS)
In light of the above criticisms, Agamben’s
work has been characterized by some scholars as ‘utopian’. Bearing in
mind Agamben’s theory of biopower, Lewis offers an educational intervention by suggesting that a utopian turn is secured, “a not-yet
conceptualized relation between zoē and bios where they do not merely supersede one another, nor
collapse into a state of indistinction. Instead, zoē becomes its own bios and bios its own zoē” (2006, p.
175). What can be understood by a utopian alternative is that a biopolitical taught curriculum of
citizenship works to transform currere into a “productive generative life through which new notions
of democratic community can evolve” (Lewis, 2007, p. 700). It is important, then, that educators and
curriculum theorists recognize biopower and its implications within edutopian (Peters & Freeman–Moir, 2006)
projects. But if an ‘escape’ from biopower is not possible (according to Agamben’s theorization), then how and where does an edutopian
project emerge? Interest in utopian thinking is now being renewed in education (Lewis, 2007; Papastephanou, 2008);
a detailed working of the multiple notions and manifestations of edutopian thought is impossible here, for reasons of space. However, it is
sufficient to emphasize two ideas in the context of this article: first,
the notion of utopia as a possibility for opening a
number of alternatives in citizenship education (Callan, 1999); and second, the importance of analyzing the relation between
utopia and power, drawing on the later work of Foucault (Lewis, 2007). In relation to the first idea, Callan argues that we might cultivate
a citizenship identity in which a cosmopolitan ideal of ‘world citizenship’ is brought into the
foreground; or we might seek to elicit a new kind of democratic imaginary attuned to the claims of
justice both for the civic outsiders and insiders. Can we allow, for example, the demand for justice as manifest
in the claims of immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers to play a critical role in reconceiving our own
rights and privileges and rights of others, not only grounding these claims in the limits of modern law,
but also inhabiting the democratic imaginary to come? As far as the second idea is concerned, new forms of
resistance can emerge by further complicating the production of a limit figure of bare life such as
immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers (see Foucault, 1983, 2003). Foucault’s (1983) influential notion of the conduct of
conduct emphasizes that power acts on subjects insofar as they are free. For Foucault (2003), the ultimate
problem of modern societies is that biopower (as power over life) remains unacknowledged. For instance, racism
and colonialism are mechanisms that allow biopower to regulate the population. Thus, utopia, in this context, is an attempt
to reconfigure power in relation to life (Lewis, 2007). In this sense, immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers
are not disempowered masses escaping from the tyranny of sovereign nation–states but a vehicle for
social and political transformation (e.g., cosmopolitan citizenship). As this discussion has shown, Agamben allows us to
diagnose new forms of domination in contemporary life that are often hidden in benign humanitarian
and liberal claims. Curriculum theorizing in relation to citizenship education must further articulate
the politics of differentiation and particularly how humanitarian arguments and acts of ‘recognition’
might become aware of their own shortcomings and complicity with racism and colonialism. Drawing on
Agamben’s theory of biopower, the utopian function of curriculum theorizing in citizenship education can
attempt to establish a radical break with the logic of abandoning others on the basis of citizenship
rights. What is at stake, as Butler (1993) argues, is imagining how “socially saturated domains of exclusion be recast
from their status as ‘constitutive’ to beings who might be said to matter” (p. 189). If, as Agamben (1998) asserts,
we have not managed yet to ‘heal’ the ‘fracture’ between zoē and bios, then immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers as
abject figures offer education within schools opportunities to work at the limits of what is available in
citizenship discourses, while contesting the existing regimes of truth.
Focus on stasis politicizes notions of belonging which reproduces sovereign power
within debate. Focus on a form of inoperativity to envision separate strategies
Agamben 13 (Giorgio, Italian philosopher, and Professor at the Università IUAV di Venezia, “What is a
Destituent Power?”, Translation: Stephanie Wakefield, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
2014, volume 32, pages 65– 74, Online:, 7/11,
From Nicole Loraux’s investigations in “La guerre dans la famille” and The Divided City (2) it is possible to understand the function of civil war in
Greece. Politics presents itself here as a field of tensions that go from the oikos to the polis, from the impolitical home as the dwelling of zoē, to
the city as the sole place of political action. Loraux’s idea is that stasis has its original place in the family, and is a war between members of the
same family, of the same oikos. I
have arrived instead at the conclusion that the place of stasis is the threshold
between oikos and polis, family and city. Stasis, civil war, constitutes a threshold, passing through
which domestic belonging is politicized in citizenship and, inversely, citizenship is depoliticized in
familial solidarity. Only from this perspective can we understand that singular document that is the law of Solon, which punished with
atimia (that is, with the loss of civil rights) the citizen who had not fought for one of two sides in a civil war (as
Aristotle says, crudely: “he who when the city finds itself in a civil war (stasiazouses tes poleos), does not take up arms
(thetai ta opla) for one of the two sides is punished with infamy (atimos einai) and is excluded from politics (tes
poleos me metechein).” (Cicero—Epist. ad Att, X, 1,2—translating capite sanxit, aptly evoked capitis diminutio, which corresponds to the Greek
atimia.) This
law seems to confirm beyond any doubt the position of civil war as the threshold of
politicization/depoliticization in the Greek city. Although this document is mentioned not only by Plutarch, Aulus Gellius, and
Cicero, but also with particular precision by Aristotle (Ath. Const., VIII, 5), the meaning of stasis that it implies is apparently
so disconcerting to modern historians of politics that it has often been left aside (so too for Loraux, who,
although she alludes to it in the book, does not mention it in the article). Not to take part in civil war is equivalent to being
expelled from the polis and confined to the oikos, to leave citizenship to be reduced to the impolitical
condition of private life. This does not mean, obviously, that the Greeks thought of civil war as a good thing: but rather that
stasis works like a reagent that discloses the political element in the final instance, as a threshold of
politicization that itself determines the political or nonpolitical character of a particular being. Since the
tensions (political/nonpolitical, polis/oikos) are, as we have seen, contemporaneous, the threshold in which they are transformed and inverted,
joined or disjoined, becomes decisive. 5. In the course of my research it emerged that the fundamental
concepts of politics are
no longer production and praxis, but inoperativity and use. A philosophical reflection on the concept of ‘use’ is missing.
‘Use’ and ‘to use’ are terms that modernity has invested with a strong ‘utilitarian’ connotation, transforming their original sense. An
examination of the Greek verb that we translate with ‘to use’—chresthai—shows that it does not seem to have a meaning of its own, but
derives its meaning from the term that follows it, that it is found in the dative or in the genitive, and never, as we would expect, in the
accusative. What is a destituent power (or potentiality)? The verb chresthai is a verb that grammarians classify as “middle voice”, that is,
neither active nor passive, but the two together.(3) Benveniste’s research on the middle voice shows that, whereas in the active, the verbs
denote a process that is realized starting from the subject and outside of it, “in the middle … the verb denotes a process centering in the
subject: the subject is interior to the process” (Benveniste, 1971, page 168). Examples of the verbs that have only a middle voice (media
tantum) illustrate well this peculiar situation of the subject inside of the process of which it is agent: gignomai, Latin nascor, be born; Latin
morior, die; penomai, Latin patior, to suffer; keimai, lie; phato, Latin loquor, speak; fungor, fruor, godere, etc: in all of these cases, “the
subject is the place of the process, even if this process, as in the case of Latin fruor or Sanskrit
manyate, requires an object; the subject is the center and at the same time the agent of the process:
he accomplishes something which is being accomplished in him” (page 168). The opposition with the active is clear in
those middle voice verbs that also allow an active voice: koimatai, ‘he sleeps’, in which the subject is internal to the process, then becomes
koima, ‘he puts (someone or something) to sleep, makes one sleep’, in which the process, no longer having its place in the subject, comes to be
transferred transitively to another term that becomes the object. Here the subject, “placed outside of the process, now stands above it as
actor”, (Benveniste, 1971, page 168) and consequently the action must take an external object as its end. A few lines later, discussing it in
relation to the active voice, Benveniste specifies the particular relation that the middle voice assumes between the subject and the process of
which it is both the agent and the site: “One debates every time about situating the subject with regard to the process, depending on whether
it is external or internal to it, whether it qualifies as agent, depending on whether it effects an action, in the active, or whether it effects in
being affected [il effectue en s’affectant], in the middle” (page 168). Let us reflect on the singular formula through which Benveniste tries to
express the meaning of the middle voice: it effects in being affected (il effectue en s’affectant). On the one hand, the subject that completes the
action, for the very fact of completing it, does not act transitively on an object, but first and foremost implies and affects itself in the process;
on the other hand, precisely for this reason, the process supposes a singular topology, in which the subject does not stand above the action, but
is itself the place of its occurrence. As implied in the denomination mesotes, the middle voice itself is situated; that is, in a zone of
indetermination between subject and object (the agent is in some manner also object and site of the action) and between active and passive
(the agent is being affected in its own act). We can better understand, in this ‘middle’ perspective, the reason why the object of the verb
chresthai cannot be in the accusative, but is always in the dative or the genitive. The process does not travel from an active subject toward the
separate object of its action, but implicates in itself the subject, in the same measure in which it is itself implied in the object and ‘is given’ to it.
We can now try to define the meaning of chresthai: it expresses the relation that one has with oneself, the affection that one receives in as
much as one is in relation with a specific being. He who synphorai chretai experiences himself as unlucky, constitutes and shows himself as
unlucky; he who utitur honore proves himself and defines himself in the (3)The middle voice no longer exists in the English language. What is a
destituent power? 69 fulfilling of an office or duty; he who nosthoi chretai experiences himself as affected by the desire of return. The
result is thus a radical transformation of the ontology (an ontology in the middle voice) of the concept
of ‘subject’. Not a subject that uses an object, but a subject that constitutes itself only through the
using, the being in relation with an other. Ethical and political is the subject that is constituted in this
use, the subject that testifies of the affection received insofar as it is in relation with another body. Use,
in this sense, is the affection that a body receives inasmuch as it is in relation with another body (or with one’s own body as other). 6. On the
concept of inoperativity. Inoperativity
does not mean inertia, but names an operation that deactivates and
renders works (of economy, of religion, of language, etc) inoperative. It is a question, that is, of going back to the
problem that Aristotle fleetingly posed in the Nicomachean Ethics (1097b, 22 sqq), when, in the context of the definition of the object of
epistēmē politikē, of political science, he wondered if, as for the flute player, the sculptor, the carpenter, and every artisan there exists a proper
work (ergon), there is also for man as such something like an ergon or if he is not instead argos, without work, inoperative. Ergon of man means
in this context not simply ‘work’, but that which defines energeia, the activity, the being-in-act proper to man. The question concerning the
work or absence of work of man therefore has a decisive strategic importance, for on it depends not only the possibility of assigning him a
proper nature and essence, but also, as we have seen, that of defining his happiness and his politics. The
problem has a wider
meaning, therefore, and involves the very possibility of identifying energeia, the being-in-act of man
as man, independently and beyond the concrete social figures that he can assume. Aristotle quickly abandons
the idea of an argia, of an essential inoperativity of man. I have sought on the contrary, reprising an ancient tradition that appears in Averroes
and in Dante, to think man as the living being without work, which is to say, devoid of any specific vocation: as
a being of pure
potentiality (potenza), that no identity and no work could exhaust. This essential inoperativity of man is
not to be understood as the cessation of all activity, but as an activity that consists in making human
works and productions inoperative, opening them to a new possible use. It is necessary to call into question the
primacy that the leftist tradition has attributed to production and labor and to ask whether an attempt to define the truly human activity does
not entail first of all a critique of these notions. The modern epoch, starting from Christianity—whose creator God defined himself from the
origin in opposition to the deus otiosus of the pagans—is
constitutively unable to think inoperativity except in the
negative form of the suspension of labor. Thus one of the ways in which inoperativity has been
thought is the feast [la festa], which, on the model of the Hebrew Shabbat, has been conceived essentially as a
temporary suspension of productive activity, of melacha. But the feast is defined not only by what in it is not done, but
primarily by the fact that what is done—which in itself is not unlike what one does every day—becomes undone, is
rendered inoperative, liberated and suspended from its ‘economy’, from the reasons and purposes
that define it during the weekdays (and not doing, in this sense, is only an extreme case of this suspension).(4) If one eats, it is not done
for the sake of being fed; if one gets dressed, it is not done for the sake of being covered up or taking shelter from the cold; if one wakes up, it
is not done for the sake of working; if one walks, it is not done for the sake of going someplace; if one speaks, it is not done for the sake of
communicating information; if one exchanges objects, it is not done for the sake of selling or buying. There
is no feast that does not
involve, in some measure, a destitutive element, that does not begin, that is, first and foremost by rendering inoperative the works
of men. In the Sicilian feast of the dead described by Pitré, the dead (or an old woman named Strina, from strena, the Latin name for the gifts
exchanged during the festivities at the beginning of the year) steal goods from tailors, merchants, and bakers to then bestow them on children
(something similar to this happens in every feast that involves gifts, like Halloween, in which the dead are impersonated by children). In every
carnival feast, such as the Roman saturnalia, existing social relations are suspended or inverted: not only do slaves command their masters, but
sovereignty is placed in the hands of a mock king (saturnalicius princeps) who takes the place of the legitimate king. In this way the feast reveals
itself to be above all a deactivation of existing values and powers. “There are no ancient feasts without dance”, writes Lucian, but what is dance
other than the liberation of the body from its utilitarian movements, the exhibition of gestures in their pure inoperativity? And what are
masks—which play a role in various ways in the feasts of many peoples—if not, essentially, a neutralization of the face? Only
if it is
considered in this perspective can the feast furnish a paradigm for thinking inoperativity as a model of
politics. An example will allow us to clarify how one must understand this “inoperative operation”.
What is a poem, in fact, if not an operation taking place in language that consists in rendering inoperative,
in deactivating its communicative and informative function, in order to open it to a new possible use?
What the poem accomplishes for the potentiality of speaking, politics and philosophy must accomplish for the power of acting. Rendering
inoperative the biological, economic, and social operations, they show what the human body can do, opening it to a new possible use. 7. If
the fundamental ontological question today is not work but inoperativity, and if this inoperativity can,
however, be deployed only through a work, then the corresponding political concept can no longer be
that of ‘constituent power’ [potere constituente], but something that could be called ‘destituent power’
[potenza destituente]. And if revolutions and insurrections correspond to constituent power, that is, a violence that establishes and constitutes
the new law, in order to think a destituent
power we have to imagine completely other strategies, whose
definition is the task of the coming politics. A power that was only just overthrown by violence will rise again in another form,
in the incessant, inevitable dialectic between constituent power and constituted power, violence which
makes the law and violence that preserves it.
Productivity bad
Productivity creates binaries of being/non-being – only the aff’s use of impotentiality
can break that down
Lewis and Friedrich 15 (Tyler Lewis, Art Education, University of North Texas, Daniel Friedrich,
Curriculum and Instruction, Teachers College, Columbia, “Educational States of Suspension”, University
Educational Philosophy and Theory: Incorporating ACCESS, Online:, 7/11, DTS)
Learning as it is conceptualized today emphasizes the translation of potentiality into actuality in the
name of measurability, efficiency, and improvement. On this view, education is more or less a linear
process that unfolds chronologically toward maximum outputs. But what happens when school time is seen as free
time? How can learning be returned to a freedom which it seems to have sacrificed? We suggest that tinkering is an alternative educational
logic to the dominance of learning. By tinkering, we do not mean the kind of purposeful tinkering which might now be found in any number of
creative industries, but rather a tinkering let loose from ends (of profit). This would be tinkering as a kind of purposeless purposiveness, to
borrow a phrase from Kant. In
this section of the article, we will posit tinkering as a kind of suspension of
learning, an interruption of any smooth, linear narrative that culminates in measurable outcomes. The
time of tinkering is a time of interruption, where the rules prohibiting certain behaviors (‘Don’t play with fire!’ or ‘That does not belong there!’
or ‘That is not how you do it!’) are left idle. Indeed, what is most controversial about tinkering is that it transgresses a series of taken-forgranted laws that usually divide proper from improper behaviors. Suspension
of these rules and laws offers a time of free
use wherein time is no longer held above the tinkerer but rather returns as immanent to their actions.
Here, what is suspended are the everyday imperatives to produce optimally
functioning/measurable/quantifiable outcomes. Instead of moving from potentiality to actuality,
tinkering lingers in a state of no longer merely play and not yet a fullfledged project with definable
success conditions. The very concept of ‘tinkering’ has a certain temporal dimension suggesting a loss of definitive ends, uncertainty of
outcomes, and the simultaneous rhythms of withdrawing and progressing.2 Rather than marching forward toward the evaluation of the test or
production of evidence of one’s effectiveness, tinkering
suggests a practice of being absorbed in the activity in and
for itself, of finding pleasure in tinkering as what Agamben (2000) might call a ‘pure means’.3 The end is
no longer the priority so much as the experimentation with the present. Even if one tinkers in order to achieve a specific
goal, what is unique about tinkering is that its meandering and its improvisational pacing push toward
a goal while also delaying its eventual arrival. In this sense, we can make a critical distinction between tinkering and ‘testing
out’ or ‘trying out’. Both testing and trying are concerned with trial, evaluation, and eventual judgment. If testing means deciding upon, then
tinkering with means experimenting with—the former erases what is potential while the latter retains a relationship to this potential
indefinitely. In this sense, it is not uncommon to find ‘perpetual tinkerers’—those who resist closure, measure, or judgment over whatever they
are doing. Outside of chronological unfolding (where ‘trying out’ pushes toward a future evaluation), tinkering is recursive and highly
experimental. Indeed, it is an educational activity released from any towards. What
is most interesting about perpetual
tinkering is this prolonged state of incubation which, in the last instance, distances itself from the
separations which define learning. Such separations include before and after, novice and expert, student and graduate,
uncertified and certified. In all cases, there is a linear chronology that unfolds and enables benchmarks of progress to be highlighted and
emphasized. Yet, when one is a perpetual tinkerer one is an amateur who prefers not to fall within any of these categories, residing betwixt and
between them in a state of educational indifference. But what is one actually tinkering with when one tinkers? It
is our contention
that what opens up through tinkering is an object’s potentiality. This potentiality is different than
what is normally understood by potentiality. In educational circles, it is not uncommon to hear teachers and administrators
speak of helping students ‘realize their full potential’ as if potentiality can ever be exhausted in any realized state. Speaking of potentiality,
Agamben (1999) writes, ‘the tautology “it-will-occur-or-it-will-not-occur” is necessarily true as a whole, beyond the taking place of either of the
two possibilities’ (p. 266). In such a tautological formulation, each alternative is returned back to a purely contingent state. Stated differently, in
the tautology an event occurs and does not occur simultaneously.
To be in potential, an occurrence cannot foreclose
upon its contingency to not happen. Thus, potentiality is a suspension of distinctions such as
occurrence and non-occurrence, being and not being, in order to keep open a perpetual field of
contingent possibilities. Potentiality is therefore rooted in im-potentiality, and their rhythmic sway is
an im-potential state of being-and-not-being held together.4 To tinker with something is to open up
that thing to its im-potentiality to be and not to be. Here is a rather banal example. In shop class, a tinkerer may want to
take apart a car engine just to see what a car engine in made of, how it functions. This activity might be formally identical in every way to an
actual mechanic who also takes apart a car engine but this time with a specific purpose in mind: to fix the engine. With this goal firmly set, the
mechanic is guided by a mental representation of a particular set of success conditions which guide his or her actions toward a specifically
desirable outcome: a working motor. The present limit condition must be overcome in order to reach a more functional state wherein the car
works as intended. The key difference here between the tinkerer and the mechanic is not that their behaviors, tools, or skills are different.
Rather it is that the tinkerer releases the activity from its specific end. To tinker is to be a mechanic as not a mechanic. The instrumentality of
the mechanic and the success conditions determining proper vs. improper, success vs. failure are suspended indefinitely. In this case, the
engine both is and is not an engine simultaneously. And in this sense, tinkering transforms a useful object identified within the order of things
as a particular object with particular uses that separate it from other things and uses. Being both an engine and not an engine simultaneously
means that it is a toy. For Agamben (1993a), the toy is a peculiar kind of thing that ‘can be said to be withdrawn from all rules of use’ (p. 57).
The toy holds within itself both being and not being without choosing either. To tinker is to transform an object of use or exchange into a toy …
and toys are always ontological tautologies. The toy is the im-potential state of equipment. When
things, laws, equipment, and
signs are suspended from their use or exchange values in everyday life through the work of tinkering,
then a new kind of freedom can be found in indeterminacy. In this sense, the toy is a free thing. The engine, as a toy, is
otherwise than an engine. The inoperative nature of the thing that is being tinkered with enables the tinkerer
to experience this im-potentiality to be otherwise than. Summarizing, Agamben (2007) speculates: Not in the monument,
an object of archaeological and scholarly research, which preserves in time its practical, documentary character (its ‘material content’,
Benjamin would have said); not in an antique, whose value is a function of its quantitative ageing; not in an archive document, which draws its
value from its place in a chronology and a relationship of proximity and legality with the past event. The toy represents something more and
something different from all these things. (p. 80) But what is
left when such significance, functionality, and form are
left idle? Nothing less than the im-potentiality for new historical modes of being to arise, for new
profane meanings to emerge. Tinkering is not concerned with monuments, antiques, or the archive (all of which transmit the past)
so much as with the toy (which transmits nothing but its own im-potentiality or contingency). In sum, the im-potentiality of the toy can be
characterized in relation to two unusual characteristics: neither … nor, and as not. Commenting on section nine of Heidegger’s Being and Time
as well as proposition 6.44 of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, Agamben (1993b) writes, ‘In the principle of reason (“There is a reason why
there is something rather than nothing”), what is essential is neither that something is (being) nor that something is not (nothingness, but that
something is rather than nothingness)’ (p. 104). Im-potentiality
is the fundamental ontology of tinkering, and exists
prior to an either/or logic that sets being and not being against one another in a kind of dialectical
contestation. Tinkering is therefore neither … nor. Think here of the engine from the above example which is neither an engine nor
something else either. It is an engine in suspension, in a state of im-potentiality where uses are left idle.
Risk assessment fails
Calculative risk assessment fails and leads to proliferation of risk management
Amoore and De Goede 2008 (Louise and Marieke, Louise Amoore researches and teaches in the
areas of global geopolitics and security, Marieke de Goede is Professor of Politics, with a focus on
Europe in a Global Order, at the Department of Politics of the University of Amsterdam, where she codirects the research group Transnational Configuration, Conflict and Governance, “Risk and The War on
Terror”, 2005,
According to Richard Ericson and Aaron Doyle (2004a: 141), ‘‘terrorism
strikes at the foundation of risk society.’’ The risk
society is characterized by a tendency to understand an increasing number of society’s ills and
insecurities through the lens of risk, in order to tame and eradicate them through calculative
technologies. In this context, it is the sheer unpredictability and incalculability of terrorist attack that, according to Ericson
and Doyle, presents ‘‘a stark reminder of the limits to risk assessment and management’’ (see also Ericson, this volume). Put
simply, an event such as a terrorist attack serves to puncture the illusion of a fully managed risk and
reminds us of the essential unknowability of the future. As Wendy Larner discusses in this volume, a ‘‘global imaginary’’
of a new, dispersed and particularly unpredictable terrorism underpins the war on terror’s ambiguous relationship with the risk society (see
also Mythen and Walklate 2006). Paradoxically, however, this recognition
of incalculability does not lead to an
abandonment of calculative techniques in favor of, for example, a political–philosophical recognition of the fragility of modern
life. Indeed, the very advent of the idea of risk as a means of governing coincides with a security apparatus
that no longer seeks to prevent, to order or to withhold, but instead to preempt, to allow to play out, to make probabilistic judgments.
Foucault’s question, posed some thirty years ago, remains the important one: ‘‘Can we say that the general economy of power in our societies
is becoming a domain of security?’’ In his histories of the technologies of security, delivered at the Colle`ge de France, Foucault elucidates how
the specific space of security
refers to a ‘‘series of possible events; it refers to the temporal and the uncertain’’
(2007: 20). Such an orientation to the uncertain future inhabits the very idea of risk. In his delineation of practices of
security from those of discipline, Foucault locates ‘‘the absolutely crucial notion of risk’’ (2007: 61). Working through a painstaking genealogy of
smallpox, Foucault identifies new ‘‘fields of application and techniques’’ of risk. No longer did the management of disease ‘‘follow the
previous practice of seeking purely and simply to nullify the disease [ ... ] or to preventcontact between the sick and the healthy.’’ Instead, he
notes ‘‘the emergence of a completely different problem’’ that is concerned with ‘‘allowing circulations to take place, of
controlling them, sifting the good and the bad, ensuring things are always in movement’’ (2007: 65; see also Walters 2006; Elden 2007; LoboGuerrero 2007). With the idea of risk is always already the possibility to govern on the very basis of uncertainty and mobility – via
risks,’’ ‘‘risk zones,’’ ‘‘different curves of normality’’ (Foucault 2007: 63). In a system such as ATS, then,
we find precisely the modes of risk management that foster new and imaginative ways of dealing with
uncertainty, amounting to an intensification of the search for anticipatory decisionmaking across all
domains of social life . As Aradau and van Munster discuss in this volume, and following Foucault’s insights, the deployment of
risk in the war on terror is to be understood through the dispositif of Precaution: in which a desire for zero risk joins a vision
of worst case scenarios in order to enable preemptive action against perceived terrorist threats .
Terrorism, in other words, is understood to be ‘‘a risk beyond risk, of which we do not have, nor cannot
have, the knowledge or the measure’’ (Ewald 2002: 294, emphasis added). If no longer based on the appearance
of science and calculation , what then provides the basis for security decisions in a politics of preemption ?
Precautionary risk practices exceed the logic of (statistical) calculability and involve , instead,
imaginative or ‘‘visionary’’ techniques such as stress testing, scenario planning and disaster rehearsal
(O’Malley 2004: 5). Such imaginative new ways of dealing with uncertainty continue to deploy the language of risk,
while outstripping, in practice, established technologies of risk calculation. Certainly, there is historical precedent
of the incorporation of various uncertainties into risk governing practices. Bougen’s (2003) analysis of the new
governability and profitability of catastrophe risk (including earthquakes, hurricanes, strikes and terrorism) is one relevant
example. Bougen (2003: 258) notes that rendering catastrophe insurable involves the deployment of techniques with ‘‘a particularly fragile
connection to statistical technologies’’ that are perhaps better understood as ‘‘a special kind of alchemy’’ (cf. O’Malley 2002). Indeed, ATS itself
has to be understood as one form of just such an alchemy: while both its proponents and its opponents have couched the program in terms of
risk assessment exercise, its most important methodology entails data mining and ‘‘link analysis,’’
whereby passenger data are compared with data on terrorist suspects. First deployed in Las Vegas casinos in order to ban card-counting
link analysis as a security technology entails imaginative and associative methodologies that
accord dangerousness to particular individuals and that depart significantly from statistical risk
calculation . Similarly, it is precisely the algorithmic alchemists of 1990s consumer data mining and profiling who now
lead the ‘‘mathematical sciences role in homeland security’’ (BMSA 2004). Commercial techniques that were
previously used to imagine and visualize an as-yet-unknown consumer are now actively in use to
preempt the as-yet-unknown terrorist. While not without historical precedent, then, the invocation of imagination in dealing
with terrorism risk, as analyzed in this volume by Mark Salter among others, entails novel practices of approaching and deploying risk. One of
the central themes of this volume is the ways in which
‘‘risk of terrorism’’ both appropriates and exceeds
established risk practice and deploys new calculative techniques as well as cultural imaginations in
order to govern society. Drawing on, for example, the historical lineages of risk literature (see Aradau and van Munster, this volume)
and border control (see Walters, this volume), this volume is able to explore both the novel norms of post 9/11 risk management and the ways
in which it is already historically present. Through its empirical examples and theoretical reflections, the book seeks to unsettle the current
limits of the risk literature, thinking differently about the politics of what is done in the name of risk.
Risk management bad
Amoore 05 (Louise, Louise Amoore researches and teaches in the areas of global geopolitics and
security. She has particular interests in how contemporary forms of data, analytics and risk management
are changing the techniques of border control and security, “Biometric Borders: Governing Mobilites in
the war on terror”, May 2005, Political Geography 25, )/AK47
Introduction: homeland security/borderland insecurity At a United States House subcommittee hearing in February 2002, a
panel of commercial information technology experts and management consultants were asked to give technical advice on how the war on
terror might be fought using risk profiling techniques. The hearing concluded
that technologies designed to classify
populations according to their degree of threat e long available in the private commercial sector e should be
deployed at the service of border security. Indeed, the invited panel of experts stated clearly that ‘our enemies
are hiding in open and available information’ and that, had surveillance and profiling techniques been
in place, the events of 9/11 ‘could have been predicted and averted’ (Accenture, cited in Kestelyn, 2002, p. 8). In the
immediate months following September 11, the dilemmas of the war on terror were being framed as problems of
risk management, clearing the path for a burgeoning homeland security market that was to have
implications far beyond the US ‘homeland’. Two years on from the initial hearings, the US Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) announced the Smart Border Alliance, headed up by management consultants Accenture, as the prime contractors for US
VISIT,1 a $US10 billion project to restructure and manage all aspects of US air, land and sea port of
entry security. The US VISIT programme , which I will use as my central point of discussion in this paper, represents one
discrete example of a more prevalent phenomenon in the contemporary war on terror: the
proliferation of risk management techniques as a means of governing mobilities .2 Accenture’s self-styled
‘virtual border’, they promise, ‘is designed to operate far beyond US boundaries’, enabling the DHS to ‘assess the
security risks of all US-bound travellers and prevent potential threats from reaching US borders’
(Accenture digital forum, 2004, p. 1). Under US VISIT, the management
of the border cannot be understood simply as a
matter of the geopolitical policing and disciplining of the movement of bodies across mapped space. Rather, it is more
appropriately understood as a matter of biopolitics , as a mobile regulatory site through which
people’s everyday lives can be made amenable to intervention and management . In this paper I develop the
concept of the biometric border in order to signal a dual-faced phenomenon in the contemporary war on terror: the turn to
digital technologies, data integration and managerial expertise in the politics of border management; and the
exercise of biopower such that the body itself is inscribed with, and demarcates, a continual crossing of
multiple encoded borders e social, legal, gendered, racialized and so on. The term biometric border, now
part of the lingua franca of the risk consultants and the government departments charged with fighting the war on terror, has yet to be
analysed critically in terms of how it is being deployed. As a manifestation of what Walters (2002, p. 571) calls the ‘biopolitical 1 United States
Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology. 2 The research discussed here focuses specifically on the deployment of technologies for the
governing of the mobility of people. However, the implications for the governing of the mobility of money/finance (see Amoore & de Goede,
2005; De Goede, 2003); and the mobility of goods are significant. L. Amoore / Political Geography 25 (2006) 336e351 337 border’, biometric
Subject to biopower , the
crossing of a physical territorial border is only one border crossing in a limitless series of journeys that
traverse and inscribe the boundaries of safe/dangerous, civil/uncivil, legitimate traveller/illegal migrant. In
part, then, the biometric border signals a new and important geographical imagining of the border,
interpreted in the literature as symptomatic of both decentred and outsourced forms of state and the
contradictions of contemporary global capital (see Hyndman, 1997; Newman, 2001). Yet, it is not simply the emergence of
borders extend the governing of mobility into domains that regulate multiple aspects of daily life.
new border regimes but the performing of the idea of the biometric border that is becoming so central to the technologies of the war on terror.
Rather as Dear and Lucero (2005, p. 317) suggest in their discussion of the Bajalta California borderlands, ‘la frontera porta´til is everywhere’. In
effect, the biometric border is the portable border par excellence, carried by mobile bodies at the very same time as it is deployed to divide
bodies at international boundaries, airports, railway stations, on subways or city streets, in the office or the neighbourhood. The
work of
the biometric border is thus the work of redefining what Bigo (2001, p. 112) calls the ‘ Mo¨bius ribbon’ of
internal and external security, such that ‘internal and external security become embedded in the
figure of the ‘‘enemy within’’, of the outsider inside, increasingly labeled with the catchphrase
‘‘immigrant’’’ . Read through Bigo’s (2001, p. 100) lens of a governmentality that combines ‘technological sophistication with the old
disciplines of the body’, immigration and the terrorist threat become combined as a problem ‘not because
there is a threat to the survival of society’ but because ‘scenes from everyday life are politicized,
because day-to-day living is securitized’. Thus, the governing of mobility through US VISIT’s biometric borders is
categorically not about new border threats in a post-9/11 world, but rather a means of identifying and
designating the safe from the dangerous at multiple borders of daily life. US VISIT, then, is but one element of
a liberal mode of governmentality that sees risk profiling in the war on terror pervade and claim every
aspect of species life itself, or something akin to a shift from geopolitics to biopolitics (Dillon, 2002, 2004;
Dillon & Reid, 2001; Larner & Walters, 2004). Certainly such biopolitical and governmental techniques and technologies capture a crucial aspect
of what is at stake politically in the extension of the biometric border into multiple realms of social life, and this will form a key part of my
argument. Yet, here I am also seeking to sound a note of caution lest, when we advance a critique of biopolitical systems in the war on terror,
we inadvertently reproduce the certainties and assurances of the technical matrix that has become the mainstay of the homeland security
The authority of risk profiling in the war on terror precisely relies upon the representation
of a world that would be safer if only ambiguity, ambivalence and uncertainty could be controlled. In
effect, the place of science and technology in fighting the war on terror is ever more secured if we overstate the coherence of the grip it has on
life itself. As Dillon (2004, p. 82) reminds us, ‘species life is not a datum, it is an undecidable’. Though the biometric border undeniably draws
species life into the exercise of power, it is necessarily working with an unstable and unpredictable referent. Throughout this paper I will
suggest ways in which the ambivalent, antagonistic and undecidable moments of the biometric border might
be revealed. Though, as Foucault (1976, p. 93) conceived it, there may be no ‘single locus of great Refusal’ or overt resistance to the use of risk
profiling as a means of governing the movement of people, there are moments of dissent and multiple instances of tension that reveal the
contingent and incomplete nature of the programmes. The discussion that follows will explicitly hold together two arguments that are
apparently in tension: that
the biometric border may be becoming a ubiquitous deployment of risk profiling
in 338 L. Amoore / Political Geography 25 (2006) 336e351 the war on terror; but that
this ubiquity is always also necessarily
disrupted and disruptive. The argument draws on the US VISIT programme to discuss in turn three central themes of the politics of
the biometric border. First, I look at the use of risk as a means of governing in the war on terror, based on dividing
practices that segregate ‘legitimate’ mobilities (business, travel, leisure and so on) from ‘illegitimate’ mobilities
(terrorist, trafficker, immigrant and so on). Second, I discuss the representation of biometrics and the body. Biometric
data are assumed to be anchored in the human body, apparently fixing and securing identity as a
basis for prediction and prevention. Finally, I draw out the processes of authorization that are allowing the surveillance of
mobility, and particularly of migrant mobilities and legalities, to be practiced in everyday life, from private security firms to technology-enabled
people on the city street or subway network.
1NC – Agamben
Agamben ignores agency and can’t adequately explain structures of sovereign power
on refugee camps
Martin 12 (Diana, Lecturer University of Portsmouth, Laureate degree in Oriental Languages and
Cultures; MA in Cultural Geography (Research); PhD in Human Geography, “The 'Where' of Sovereign
Power and Exception. Palestinian Life and Refugee Camps in Lebanon”, Durham theses, Durham
University. Available at Durham E-Theses Online:, 7/6, DTS)
The second contribution of this research is the inclusion of the refugees‟ agency within the landscape of power relations. Although
Agamben‟s theories may be useful to investigate the juridical status of refugees and their spaces of
references, they fail to explain and take into consideration everyday struggles and forms of resistance.
Agamben, in particular, places the prerogative of the decision over the political and juridical value of lives in
the solely hands of the sovereign. Moreover, although his take on politics pivots around life as object of
power – therefore politics turns into biopolitics – he seems to overlook life itself. As he examines the
technologies of a power that is obsessed with lives and forms of life, he neglects to consider processes and
transformations occurring beyond the realm of law. As Foucault (1997: 300) argued: If you try to analyse power
not on the basis of freedom, strategies and governmentality, but on the basis of the political
institution, you can only conceive of the subject as a subject of law. One then has a subject who has or does not
have rights, who has had these rights either granted or removed by the institution of political society; and all this brings us back to a legal
concept of the subject. By
reducing the figure of the refugee to a “mere biological life‟ stripped of rights,
Agamben seems not to recognise the agency of those affected by the sovereign decision. Extending
this point, he, therefore, misses the complexities of power relations and forms of resistance (from the
most spectacular to the most ordinary) enacted by the refugees and ordinary people. While respecting their
predicament, this study intends to reject the uncritical victimisation of the Palestinians and embraces an analysis of the ways in which the
refugees may resist and challenge the sovereigns‟ decision. Considerations that would, indeed, be critical in view of future negotiations
between Israel and the Palestinians, the birth of a Palestinian state and potential consequences in missing the political value of Palestinian life
beyond Palestine. Moreover, in addressing the spatialisation of techniques of power, this study critically engages with Agamben‟s (1995a,
1998) logic of the camp. According to him, the camp is the site in which the normal juridical order is suspended .
By virtue of the
deactivation of all legal determinations, the camp becomes the space in which everything – including
arbitrary violence – becomes possible. Reflecting on the Nazi concentration camp, Agamben urges us to recognise the logic of
the camp in the production of structures that aim to enclose the political and biological threat that today is mostly represented by those who
cannot be integrated in the nation and constitute a security threat for the state. As Agamben, and before him Hannah Arendt (1968), suggested
that the most unprotected figure of our times is the refugee since the lack of state protection renders him/her bare life, many have argued that
the logic of the camp must be recognised in the proliferation of spaces of exception such as refugee camps and detention centres. These
structures, geared at enclosing the undesired and separating them from the nation, are conceived as temporary locations. While
view, to some extent could be accepted as regards detention centres that temporarily host asylum
seekers and immigrants before these are expelled from the country, this perspective seems lacking
consistency in the case of refugee camps. As the population of detention centres is ever changing, the
one inhabiting refugee camps is fated to live within these sites until a solution to their displacement
and statelessness is found.
Despite the most extreme coercion VTL is possible – The individual can achieve
Ellermann 9 (Antje Ellermann, is an Associate Professor of Political Science (Comparative Politics) and
Director of the Institute for European Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. They
are also the cluster lead for UBC’s newly established Migration Research Excellence Cluster,
“Undocumented Migrants and Resistance in the State of Exception,” Prepared April 2009, Accessed
7.2.18, ) //ZoL
Coerced Cooperation: Detention Detention is the liberal state’s most coercive of weapons for pursuing
the cooperation of undocumented migrants. It is a legal option where migrants are either considered a risk to public safety or a
flight risk. The German state is authorized to detain migrants who refuse to cooperate with deportation orders for up six months, in exceptional
cases for up to 18 months. However, in
the case of migrants who are able to stand the pressures of life in
detention, if authorities are not able to obtain travel documents within the legal window, there is little the state can do from
preventing the individual from returning to her community or from disappearing into illegality . “There
are some who surrender their passport after having spent some time in detention, when they’ve had enough. But that’s rarely the case with
people from sub-Saharan Africa, or India, or Pakistan. They simply do not want to return.” (Author interview, social worker, detention center
Köpenick, Berlin, December 13, 2001) Joanne van
der Leun’s research on illegal migrants in the Netherlands has
confirmed the limited effectiveness of detention in securing cooperation. According to a Dutch police officer: “It
costs them six to nine months, but then they are free. Some of the Moroccans are prepared to sit it out. I wonder what’s wrong with them, it is
seven months of your life but maybe they have nothing left in their own country. The
underlying idea is to stay here. And
those that are released …, they are out in the streets again and disappear into illegality again so that
they can manage a few more years.”(2003, 108) Officials are even more constrained in jurisdictions with
stricter detention limits, such as Spain, where authorities can only detain migrants for up to 40 days. As Jorgen
Carling argues: “If their nationality remains unknown to the country of origin or transit does not readmit them during the
40 day period, they are released. They are issued an expulsion order that makes their stay illegal and prevents them from taking up legal
employment, but the authorities cannot send them out of the country, i.e., carry out ‘removal.’” (2007, 323)
There is no doubt that holding a person in detention for months at a time is a highly coercive
intervention. At the same time, migrants know that there is an absolute limit beyond which they cannot
be deprived of their freedom. As long as they are able to endure life in detention until that limit, they
will be returned to “freedom.” The significance of these limits on detention for the exercise of sovereignty is even more apparent
when we look at one of the few liberal jurisdictions where the state has the authority, subject to certain conditions, to detain individuals
indefinitely. In the United States, immigration law provides for the provision of “stopping the clock”–which halts the accumulation of time in
detention that is counted toward some upper time limit—in cases where detainees do not cooperate with applications for travel documents. In
these instances, state officers can use the option of indefinite detention to exert pressure on migrants to cooperate in securing identity
documents. A U.S. deportation officers explains: “Section 241 states that the refusal to cooperate stops the clock. And we make good use of
this. If someone does not cooperate in filling in forms we just let them sit. We have someone who’s been in detention for over 2 years. If
someone doesn’t help me, I don’t help him, it’s that easy.” (Author interview, deportation officer “H”, INS San Diego, July 2002) Anna Pratt in
her study of immigrant detention in Canada likens the act of cooperating with the state’s demand for identification and the signing of the
application for corresponding travel documents to Foucault’s conception of the relationship between the confession and punishment by the
sovereign. “Both legitimize and expedite the sanction. Both render the subject of the sanction complicit in their own subjectification. And the
withholding of both results in a more onerous challenge for the authorities, who must work harder to achieve their desired objective.
Moreover, the refusal to sign is often the only bit of leverage left to some detainees in their efforts to avoid deportation. For all of these
reasons, the signing, like the confession, is a key regulatory technique and guiding preoccupation of authorities.” (2005, 49) Thus, we
conceive of identity-stripping not only as an example of resistance that is aimed at the prevention of
forced expulsion, but also as an act of “self” preservation that counters the inhumanity of bare life. Even
in the state of exception , then, there is some scope for autonomous action by the individual . In fact, it is
the very fact of rightlessness that places homo sacer in a position where extreme acts of resistance are
possible, as nothing remains to be lost.
Agamben is wrong about biopower – his world views are too static and don’t take into
account the nature of biopower’s creation and use
Lemke 05 (Thomas Lemke, is a German sociologist and social theorist. He is best known for his work on Governmentality, Biopolitics and
his readings of Michel Foucault, ”A Zone of Indistinction” – A Critique of Giorgio Agamben’s Concept of Biopolitics.” Posted April 2015, Accessed
7.5.18, Outlines. Critical Social Studies. 7. 3-13,'s_Concept_of_Biopolitics ) //ZoLs
3. Zone of indistinction or biopolitical continuum? For
Agamben the decision about life and death “no longer appears
today as a stable border dividing two clearly distinct zones” (1998: 122). This sentence allows for two completely different
readings. If the accent is placed on the first part of the phrase that stresses the dissolution of a clear
distinction line, the border is conceived as a flexible zone or a mobile line. Or – this is the second interpretation – if
the accent is put on the last part of the phrase, the phrase seems to indicate that there is no longer a borderline at
all, that both domains have become indistinguishable. This is probably the direction that Agamben takes
when he speaks of a “zone of indistinction”, the tendentious identity of life and politics (1998: 122 resp. 148). But this leads
into a blind alley. Agamben does not comprehend “camp” as an internally differentiated continuum, but only
as a “line” (1998: 122) that separates more or less clearly between bare life and political existence. As a
consequence, he cannot analyse how inside “bare life” hierarchisations and evaluations become
possible, how life can be classified and qualified as higher or lower, as descending or ascending .
Agamben cannot account for these processes since his attention is fixed on the establishment of a
border – a border that he does not comprehend as a staggered zone but as a line without extension that reduces the question to an eitheror. In other words: Agamben is less interested in life than in its “bareness”, whereby his account does not
focus on the normalisation of life, but on death as the materialisation of a borderline. For Agamben biopolitics is
essentially “thanatopolitics” (1998: 122; Fitzpatrick 2001: 263-265; Werber 2002: 419). In fact the “camp” is by no means a homogenous zone
where differences collapse but a site where differences are produced. Here again the contrast between Agamben and Foucault is instructive.
For Foucault biopolitics is not a sovereign decision over life and death. The historical and political novelty of
biopolitics lies in the fact that it focuses on the productive value of individuals and populations; the
ancient sovereign power that was centred on death is reorganised around the imperative of life . In this
perspective Foucault analyses modern racism as a vital technology since it guarantees the function of death
in an economy of biopower. Racism allows for a fragmentation of the social that facilitates a hierarchical
differentiation between good and bad races. The killing of others is motivated by the vision of an
improvement or purification of the higher race (Foucault 1997: 213-235). From this point, the second difference between
claims that from antiquity on there was a structural link between
sovereignty and biopolitics, leading to an always renewed and ever more radicalised separation
between bare life and legal existence. Foucault, on the other hand, makes an analytical distinction between
biopolitics and sovereignty, even though he notes their “deep historical link” (Foucault 1991: 102). Only the Foucauldian
analytical frame allows the material limits and the historical specifity of sovereignty to become visible by
presenting it less as the origin than as an effect of power relations. Foucault shows that sovereign
Agamben and Foucault emerges. Agamben
power is by no means sovereign , since its legitimacy and efficiency depends on a “microphysics of
power”, whereas in Agamben’s work sovereignty produces and dominates bare life. For Agamben “the
production of a biopolitical body is the original activity of sovereign power” (1998: 6; emphasis in orig.). The binary confrontation of
bíos and zoé, political existence and bare life, rule and exception points exactly to the very juridical
model of power that Foucault has criticized so convincingly . Agamben pursues a concept of power
that is grounded in categories of repression, reproduction and reduction, without taking into account
the relational, decentralised and productive aspect of power . In that it remains inside the horizon of law,
Agamben’s analysis is more indebted to Carl Schmitt (1932) than to Michel Foucault. For Schmitt, the sovereign is
visible in the decision about the state of exception, in the suspension of the law, while for Foucault the normal state that
operates beneath, alongside, or against juridical mechanisms is more important. While the former concentrates
on how the norm is suspended, the latter focuses on the production of normality. Schmitt takes as the point of departure the
very sovereignty, that signifies, for Foucault, the endpoint and result of complex social processes, which
concentrate the forces inside the social body in such a way as to produce the impression that there is an autonomous centre, or a sovereign
source of power.6
Agamben’s jargon of ‘exception’ is depoliticizing and ignores social reforms
Huysmans 08 (Jef Huysmans is a Professor of International Politics. He is best known for his work on the politics of insecurity, the
securitization of migration, and critical methods in security studies and IR. Currently he is working on security and democracy in times of
surveillance, the political life of methods, and the political significance of little nothings, “The Jargon of Exception—On Schmitt, Agamben and
the Absence of Political Society,” First published: 14 May 2008, Accessed 7.7.18, )
Deploying the jargon of exception and especially Agamben’s
conception of the exception-being-the-rule for reconfiguring
conceptions of politics in a biopolitical age comes at a serious cost, though. It inserts both a diagnosis of our time and
a conceptual apparatus for rethinking politics that has no place for the category that has been central
to the modern democratic tradition: the political significance of people as a multiplicity of social relations that
condition politics and that are constituted by the mediations of various objectified forms and processes (for example, scientific knowledge,
technologies, property relations, legal institutions...). Even
if one would argue that Agamben’s framing of the current
political conditions are valuable for understanding important changes that have taken place in the twentieth century
and that are continuing in the twenty first, they also are to a considerable extent depoliticizing . Agamben’s work tends to
guide the analysis to unmediated, factual life. For example, some draw on Agamben to highlight the importance of bodily
strategies of resistance. One of the key examples is individual refugees protesting against their detention by sewing up lips and eyes. They
exemplify how individualized naked life resists by deploying their bodily, biological condition against sovereign biopolitical powers (for example,
Edkins and Pin-Fat 2004:15–17). I follow Adorno and others, however, that such
a conception of bodily, naked life is not
political. It ignores how this life only exists and takes on political form through various socioeconomic,
technological, scientific, legal, and other mediations. For example, the images of the sewed-up eye- lids and lips of the individualized
and biologized refugees have no political significance without being mediated by public media, intense mobilizations on refugee and asylum
questions, contestations of human rights in the courts, etc. It is these mediations that are the object and structuring devices of political
struggle. Reading
the politics of exception as the central lens onto modern con- ceptions of politics, as both Agamben
and Schmitt do, erases from the concept of politics a rich and constitutive history of sociopolitical struggles ,
traditions of thought linked to this history, and key sites and temporalities of politics as well as the central
processes through which individualized bodily resistances gain their sociopolitical significance .
The aff’s method fails without new modes of praxis – Criticizing the status quo is not
enough to create radical change
Nail 10 (Thomas Nail, is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Denver,“Constructivism
and the Future Anterior of Radical Politics,” Published 2010, Accessed 7.7.18, ) //ZoL
Radical politics today faces a two-fold challenge: to show the problems and undesirability of the current
structures of exclusion and power, and to show the desirability and coherency of various alternatives
that may take their place. This paper argues that over the last 15 years, in particular, radical politics have been
vastly more attentive to the former than to the latter and that what is now required is an appropriate shift in
practical and theoretical efforts toward more constructive and prefigurative activities. In particular, the
politics of difference , often associated with post-structuralist political theory and contemporary radical
politics would do well to attend more closely to some of the more productive and promising political
experiments emerging today Not merely by exemplifying them as instances of a general potential for political transformation, as is
more often the case, but to concretely clarify their field of struggle, the types of political subjects they create,
what makes them desirable as alternatives, and the dangers these experiments confront. That is, radical
political theory can no longer be satisfied with the mere critique of various forms of representation
and essentialism in favour of difference and the affirmation that “another world is possible.” It has
been ten years since this admittedly important slogan was adopted by the World Social Forum, but it is time
that radical theory and practice begin to create a new praxis adequate to the world that will have been emerging: our
political future anterior. To be clear, I am not arguing that radical political theory does not engage contemporary political events. I am
arguing that it has disproportionally favoured the practice of critiquing of them, and insufficiently engaged political events
that propose inspiring alternatives to the present. For the most part it has merely exemplified them in
name: the No Borders Movement, Zapatismo, the Landless Peasants Movement, etc. These events are understood as parts of a new
revolutionary sequence demonstrating the possibility of another world. A shift in radical political theory
toward a clarification, valorization, and prefiguration of these events that are currently drawing an outline of the
future would thus have the following advantages: (1) It would prove, against its critics, that post-structuralism (in
particular) is not merely an abstract theoretical discourse, but has analytical tools adequate to contemporary struggles; (2) It
would help clarify the structure and importance of radical political events, not only for those subject
to the event, but for those who do not yet understand its consequences; (3) Finally, it would show the
intelligibility and desirability of promising alternatives to present authoritarian phenomena. But since the analytical
category of “radical political theory” is perhaps too broad to address in this paper, I would like to focus my argument on what I think is one of
the more prominent efforts to connect radical theory to contemporary political struggles: post-anarchism. Post-anarchism is the explicit
conjunction between post-structural- ist political philosophy and anti-authoritarian politics. Here one might expect to see a relatively high
degree of theoretical analysis of concrete political struggles with an attention to their prefigurative capacity to create a new future in the
present. But for the most part this has not been the case, although there are some recent notable exceptions.1
Post-anarchism has
often been criticized for being either a purely scholastic critique of humanist essentialism in classical anarchism (Kropotkin,
Bakunin, Proudhon) or being a purely theoretical effort with only speculative relation to the political field. But
while I too remain so far unconvinced by articulations of post- anarchism’s applicability to the political
field, I also believe that it does have the ability to offer a host of constructive analytical tools that other political theories lack. In this paper, I
aim to vindicate this capacity. Post-anarchism is perhaps too large of an analytical category to digest. Todd May has drawn on the
work of Deleuze, Foucault, and Rancière, while Saul Newman has focused his own on that of Lacan, Derrida,
and Badiou. These are all very different thinkers and it would be a mistake to conflate them into a single post-anarchist posi- tion. But
distinguishing them all or attempting to re-synthesize their “anarchist” inclinations is perhaps equally indigestible. Thus, I would like to make a
more modest intervention into this discussion in a way that not only provides support for my thesis, that the political
philosophy of
difference (adopted by post-anarchism) is insufficient for understanding the positive contributions of
anti-authoritarian struggles,
but also motivates a turn to a more constructive analysis of contemporary events. By constructive
analysis, I mean a theoretical focus on the degree to which political struggles offer or inspire alternative modes of social organization.
Extend: Too Totalizing
Agamben’s theory is too totalizing – It can’t take into account the possibility of reform
or social movements
Robinson 11 (Andrew Robinson, is a political theorist and activist based in the UK, “Giorgio Agamben:
destroying sovereignty,” Posted January 21, 2011, Accessed 7.8.18, ) //ZoL
Agamben’s approach to politics is thoroughgoing in its cleaning-out of statist ways of thinking, and hence has much to offer.
It does tend, however, to be rather all-or-nothing . Agamben’s approach makes it very hard to make
distinctions between better and worse kinds of states, between greater and lesser degrees of
recognition of civil liberties. It makes it hard to think about creating resilience in social movements in
the period before the state is destroyed . Perhaps more thought needs to be given to the exact conditions
in which states can be forced not to declare exceptions, or in which states of exception can be
contingently defeated (from the El Alto ‘gas war’ to the Woomera protests). The state seeks to impose a logic of sovereignty, but this
logic is often contested by other social forces. While the elimination of sovereignty may well be the only way to
destroy the conditions for future genocides, social movements which do not yet have the power to
shatter the state can nevertheless undermine it, rendering its power increasingly limited, partial and
conditional. Another problem is with the view that resistance should come from the standpoint of bare
life. I would suggest that it should , rather, come from the standpoint of whatever-subjectivity as something
which is at once ‘bare’ and self-recognised, and which reconstitutes itself outside the statist frame. The idea of taking the
standpoint of the most excluded or oppressed, the “social symptom” in Zizek’s terms, is not unique to Agamben, and has a certain emotional
pull. It is, indeed, at this point that the oppressiveness of a particular system becomes most apparent. It
is, however, not in the helpless
abjection of homo sacer but in the rejection of the state’s view of one’s status as (potentially or actually)
valueless and insistence, against such a view, on self-valorisation. This means that resistance can’t actually be
expected from people reduced literally to the status of the so-called musselmannen at Auschwitz. Part of the
difficulty is that the group which is most oppressed and despairing is also likely to be reduced to a condition of ‘learned helplessness’. On the
other hand, inmates of camps, even Nazi death camps, did resist, to the point of staging a mass uprising at Sobibor death camp
and in the Warsaw Ghetto. Authors such as Erving Goffman, Thomas Mathiesen, Michel Foucault and James Scott have shown how people
resist and recompose their subjectivities and social relations even in camp-like settings. Forms of
everyday resistance, spectacular protest (such as hunger strikes), and occasional uprisings can be
observed even in horrific places like Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. This resistance comes, however,
not from the most abject people, but from people who are resisting being reduced to this status. It
comes, not from bare life , but from a refusal to be reduced to bare life. It is thus not a passage through despair, but a
way of warding it off. The conditions for recomposing hope in desperate circumstances do not stem
automatically from despair, but rather, emerge from active practices of resistance and the reconstruction of meaning. Agamben
is thus right in starting from the standpoint of the excluded, but wrong in viewing abjection as a
correlate of (rather than an effect of state power on) this standpoint. Rather, transformation becomes
possible through the conversion of exclusion into autonomy, through the rejection and immanent
overcoming of sovereignty.
Extend: VTL Exists
The production of bare life doesn’t prevent subjects from being politicized—those
who are interpellated as bare life can transcend that labeling
Cesarino and Negri 4 (Cesare, assoc prof of cultural studies, Antonio, revolutionary, “It’s a
Powerful Life: A Conversation on Contemporary Philosophy,” Cultural Critique, V 57, Spring, pg. 172174)
CC: Well, yes, but what do you think? And, in particular, what do you think about the fact that the concept of naked life has become so
enormously and increasingly important for Agamben lately? AN: I believe Giorgio is writing a sequel to Homo Sacer, and I feel that this new
work will be resolutive for his thought—in the sense that he will be forced in it to resolve and find a way out of the ambiguity that has
qualified his understanding of naked life so far. He already attempted something of the sort in his recent book on Saint Paul, but I think this
attempt largely failed: as usual, this book is extremely learned and elegant; it remains, however, somewhat trapped within Pauline
exegesis, rather than constituting a full-fledged attempt to reconstruct naked life as a potentiality for exodus, to rethink naked life
fundamentally in terms of exodus. I believe that the concept of naked life is not an impossible, unfeasible one. I believe it is possible to
push the image of power to the point at which a defenseless human being [un povero Cristo] is crushed, to conceive of that extreme point
at which power tries to [End Page 173] eliminate that ultimate resistance that is the sheer attempt to keep oneself alive. From a logical
standpoint, it is possible to think all this: the naked bodies of the people in the camps, for example, can lead one precisely in this direction.
But this is also the point at which this concept turns into ideology: to conceive of the relation between power and life in such a way actually
ends up bolstering and reinforcing ideology. Agamben, in effect, is
saying that such is the nature of power: in the final instance,
power reduces each and every human being to such a state of powerlessness. But this is absolutely
not true! On the contrary: the historical process takes place and is produced thanks to a
continuous constitution and construction, which undoubtedly confronts the limit over and over
again—but this is an extraordinarily rich limit, in which desires expand, and in which life becomes
increasingly fuller. Of course it is possible to conceive of the limit as absolute pow-erlessness,
especially when it has been actually enacted and enforced in such a way so many times . And yet,
isn't such a conception of the limit precisely what the limit looks like from the standpoint of
constituted power as well as from the standpoint of those who have already been totally
annihilated by such a power—which is, of course, one and the same standpoint? Isn't this the story about
power that power itself would like us to believe in and reiterate? Isn't it far more politically useful to conceive of this
limit from the standpoint of those who are not yet or not completely crushed by power, from the
standpoint of those still struggling to overcome such a limit, from the standpoint of the process of constitution, from
the standpoint of power [potenza]? I am worried about the fact that the concept of naked life as it is conceived by Agamben might be
taken up by political movements and in political debates: I find this prospect quite troubling, which is why I felt the need to attack this
concept in my recent essay. Ultimately, I feel that nowadays the logic of traditional eugenics is attempting to saturate and capture the
whole of human reality—even at the level of its materiality, that is, through genetic engineering—and the ultimate result of such a process
of saturation and capture is a capsized production of subjectivity within which ideological undercurrents continuously try to subtract or
neutralize our resistance. [End Page 174] CC: And I
suppose you are suggesting that the concept of naked life is
part and parcel of such undercurrents. But have you discussed all this with Agamben? What does he
think about your critiques? AN: Whenever I tell him what I have just finished telling you, he gets quite
irritated, even angry. I still maintain, nonetheless, that the conclusions he draws in Homo Sacer lead to
dangerous political outcomes and that the burden of finding a way out of this mess rests entirely
on him. And the type of problems he runs into in this book recur throughout many of his other works. I found his essay on
Bartleby, for example, absolutely infuriating. This essay was published originally as a little book that also contained
Deleuze's essay on Bartleby: well, it turns out that what Deleuze says in his essay is exactly the contrary of what Giorgio says in his! I
suppose one could say that they decided to publish their essays together precisely so as to attempt
to figure this limit— that is, to find a figure for it, to give it a form—by some sort of paradoxical
juxtaposition, but I don't think that this attempt was really successful in the end. In any case, all
this incessant talk about the limit bores me and tires me out after a little while. The point is that,
inasmuch as it is death, the limit is not creative. The limit is creative to the extent to which you
have been able to overcome it qua death: the limit is creative because you have overcome death.
Prescription of bare life hurts political possibility – politics is achievable through
political organization
Owens 05 (Patricia, is a London-Irish academic, author and professor. She is professor of International
Relations and the current Head of the Department of International Relations at University of Sussex
“Reclaiming ‘Bare Life’?: Against Agamben on Refugees”, International Relations 23(4), 2005,
Arendt had been a stateless Jewish refugee during the war and was detained at a camp in France before she escaped and fled to the United
States. She was what might be called a ‘stateless non-person’ for 18 years. As Richard Bernstein has put it, her ‘experience of, and reflection
upon, statelessness
taught her what politics means, and why it is so essential to be a citizen in a polity
to live a fully human life’.58 But she was no straightforward defender of the concept of ‘human rights’ and certainly not in its classical
formulation of the ‘Rights of Man and of the Citizen’ or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.59 Agamben is largely following Arendt when
he argues that human
rights should not be viewed in such terms – as representing some ever-present prepolitical, pre-legal human attribute meant to regulate and constrain state power. It was Arendt who first
argued that the problem with this formulation is the assumed existence of a biological being with some
in-born human dignity which, she argued, cannot be shown to exist in a politically meaningful way. She was scathing of all abstract
and individualist conceptions of rights. The problem, she wrote, is that:
they presume that rights spring immediately from
the ‘nature’ of man … The decisive factor is that these rights [in the classical conception] and the
human dignity they bestow should remain valid and real even if only a single human being existed on
earth; they are independent of human plurality and should remain valid even if a human being is
expelled from the human community .60 It was Arendt’s consistent position that no coherent legal or political
structure can emerge from ‘man’ in the singular because politics is based on plurality – that there are
many and not one of us; in her gendered terminology, ‘the fact that men, not Man, live on the earth
and inhabit the world’ .61 Given that the ontological basis of politics is plurality, Arendt argued, the human being qua
human being in which our ‘nature and essence is the same for all’, is politically irrelevant .62 While Arendt
never criticised the idea of human rights with the same vehemence as in her writing of the 1940s, she never dissociated herself from the claim
there is no such thing as in-born human dignity separate from the concrete laws and institutions
that are created to uphold certain rights. ‘Equality’, she wrote, ‘in contrast to all that is involved in
mere existence, is not given to us, but is the result of human organization … We are not born equal;
we become equal as members of a group on the strength of our decision to guarantee ourselves
mutually equal rights .’63 Arendt gave concrete illustration of what happened when human beings have nothing to fall
back on except their status as zoe¯. As already indicated, the classical concept of human rights presupposed
the existence of a natural ‘human being as such’. Arendt was one of the first to identify the central and still unresolved
problem with this formulation. Those most in need of so-called ‘inalienable’ rights – stateless persons and
refugees, those without a right to citizenship – are in no position to claim them . ‘The Paradox involved in the
loss of human rights’, she wrote, ‘is that such loss coincides with the instant when a person becomes a human being in general.’64 She went so
far as to unfavourably compare the condition of statelessness to that of slaves in the ancient world. At least the latter, she remarked, ‘still
belonged to some sort of human community’.65 ‘Arendt’s idea’, as Étienne Balibar has written, ‘is not that only
institutions create
rights, whereas, apart from institutions, humans do not have specific rights, only natural qualities. Her
idea is that, apart from the institution of the community ( … in the sense of the reciprocity of actions),
there simply are no humans.’66
Extend: Agamben Indicts
Agamben ignores history and economic development
Lemke 5 (Thomas, Professor of Sociology with a Focus on "Biotechnologies, Nature and Society",
Faculty of Social Sciences at JW Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, ““A Zone of Indistinction” – A
Critique of Giorgio Agamben’s Concept of Biopolitics”, Outlines, Critical Practice Studies, 7(1), 3-13.
Online:, 7/13, DTS)
Agamben sees the novelty of the modern biopolitics in the fact that “the biological given is as such
immediately political, and the political is as such immediately the biological given” (1998: 148; emphasis in
orig.). In the political program of the Nazis, the preoccupation with life is at the same time a struggle against the enemy. While there are
probably convincing reasons to state that in the present we are one step further on the way towards a politicisation of nature, there are at least
two major problems that this conception of biopolitics fails to address. Firstly,
Agamben does not take into account that
the site of sovereignty has been displaced. While in the eugenic programs in the first half of the 20th century biopolitical
interventions were mainly executed by the state that controlled the health of the population or the hygiene of the race, biopolitics today
is becoming more and more a responsibility of sovereign subjects. As autonomous patients, active
consumers or responsible parents they demand medical or biotechnological options. Today, it is less the
state that regulates by direct interventions and restrictions, since the capacity and competence of
decision-making is increasingly ascribed to the individual subject to make “informed choices” beyond
political authoritarianism and medical paternalism. Decisions on life and death are less the explicit result of legal
provisions and political regulations but the outcome of an “invisible hand” that represents the options and practices of sovereign individuals
(Lemke 2002b; Koch 2002). Agamben’s
analysis is too state-centred, or rather, it relies on a limited conception
of the state which does not take into account important political transformations since the Nazi era. He
does not take into account that in contemporary liberal societies political power is exercised through a multiplicity
of agencies and techniques that are often only loosely associated with the formal organs of the state.
The self-regulating capacities of subjects as autonomous actors have become key resources for
present forms of government that rely in crucial respects on forms of scientific expertise and
knowledge (Rose/Miller 1992).
Agamben too legalistic
Lemke 5 (Thomas, Professor of Sociology with a Focus on "Biotechnologies, Nature and Society",
Faculty of Social Sciences at JW Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, “’A Zone of Indistinction’ – A
Critique of Giorgio Agamben’s Concept of Biopolitics”, Outlines, Critical Practice Studies, 7(1), 3-13.
Online:, 7/13, DTS)
Agamben’s concept of biopolitics is marked by a second weakness that also demonstrates his excessively legalistic approach. Biopolitical
mechanisms confront not only those who have been deprived of elementary rights and reduced to the status of living beings. The
of biopolitics cannot be limited to those without legal rights, such as the refugee or the asylum seeker,
but must encompass all those who are confronted with social processes of exclusion – even if they
may be formally enjoying full political rights: the “useless”, the “unnecessary”, or the “redundant”.
While in the past these ominous figures inhabited only peripheral spaces in the so-called third and forth world, today in a global
economy these forms of exclusion can also be found in the industrialized centres. As a result of the
crisis of the welfare state and Fordist modes of social integration, more and different segments of the
populations are effectively excluded not only from labour and the working process but from
education, housing and social life (Castel 2000; Imbusch 2001). By concentrating on questions of law and the
figure of the sovereign ban, Agamben ignores central aspects of contemporary biopolitics. He takes
for granted that the state of exception is not only the point of departure for politics, but its essence
and destination. In this light, politics is reduced to the production of homines sacri – a production that in a sense has to be called nonproductive since bare life is only produced to be suppressed and killed. But biopolitical interventions cannot be limited to registering the
opposition of bare life and political existence. Bare
life is no longer simply subject to death; it falls prey to a
bioeconomical imperative that aims at the increase of life’s value and the optimalisation of its quality.
Contemporary biopolitics is essentially political economy of life that is neither reducible to state
agencies nor to the form of law. Agamben’s concept of biopolitics remains inside the ban of
sovereignty, it is blind to all the mechanisms operating beneath or beyond the law (see also Bröckling 2003).
Agamben vague
Lemke 5 (Thomas, Professor of Sociology with a Focus on "Biotechnologies, Nature and Society",
Faculty of Social Sciences at JW Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, ““A Zone of Indistinction” – A
Critique of Giorgio Agamben’s Concept of Biopolitics”, Outlines, Critical Practice Studies, 7(1), 3-13.
Online:, 7/13, DTS)
Unfortunately, Agamben leaves this aggravation of the biopolitical problem extremely vague. His
thesis that rule and exception are marked by indeterminacy is coupled with a lack of conceptual
differentiation. To be more concrete: Even if all subjects are homines sacri, they are so in very
different ways. Agamben limits his argument by stating that everyone is susceptible to being reduced
to the status of “bare life” – without clarifying the mechanism of differentiation that distinguishes
between different values of life. It remains woefully unclear to what extent and in what manner the
comatose in the hospitals share the fate of prisoners in concentration camps; whether the asylum
seekers in the prisons are bare life to the same degree and in the same sense as the Jews in the Nazi
camps. Agamben privileges exaggerated dramatisation over sober evaluation, since he even regards
people killed on motorways indirectly as homines sacri
Extend: State of Exception Wrong
Agamben’s use of “exception” only reduces avenues for resistance
Huysmans 08 (Jef Huysmans is a Professor of International Politics. He is best known for his work on the politics of insecurity, the
securitization of migration, and critical methods in security studies and IR. Currently he is working on security and democracy in times of
surveillance, the political life of methods, and the political significance of little nothings, “The Jargon of Exception—On Schmitt, Agamben and
the Absence of Political Society,” First published: 14 May 2008, Accessed 7.7.18, )
The other idiom, that Agamben unpacks, works with the total collapse of the dialectic between anomie
and law and a biopolitical conception that organizes political stakes and dynamics through a specter of
life. Its main characteristics are that (1) the exception has become the rule as there is no relation
between law and anomie, law and politics—both exist in completely separate spheres, (2) life is no longer mediated
by objective forms such as law and becomes naked biological being, (3) biopolitical power renders and acts directly
upon naked life with no legal or other mediation—the concentration camps are the matrix of modern politics, (4) naked,
anomic life displaces societal categories of life, such as class, legally mediated interests, and property
relations, turning biopolitics into a struggle between the direct enactment of power upon this life and
the anomic excesses of life that ‘‘resist’’ the sovereign biopolitical governance. When Fleur Johns observes how
exceptionalism soaks up critical energies with considerable effectiveness in liberal societies, she seems to lament the loss of something else, of
some other form of critical energies (Johns 2005:629). This main thrust of this article has been to show that the idioms of exception indeed
produce a categorical absence. They
delete from the political the category that is a placeholder for various
histories and sites of politically oriented societal practice as structured by objectified mediations.
Paraphrasing Adorno, the idiom of exception has been called a jargon precisely because it marginalizes, and
in the more radical cases, erases the societal as a realm of multi-faceted, historically structured
political mediations and mobilizations . The article has deliberately introduced conceptions of the societal—such as liberal
pluralism, Marxist class analysis, Foucaultian analysis of technologies of governance, etc.—only in very general terms, to keep the focus on the
more ‘‘formal’’ thrust of the analysis, that is, identifying a ‘‘blind spot’’ and its consequences for how one interprets certain practices such as
balancing liberty and security, democracy, and camps. The main
reason here for pointing out this absence has not been
the sociological argument that Schmittean and Agambean concepts miss crucial elements of how
current governmental practice work (Bigo 2007). Or, that they grant ‘‘little purchase on how these
exceptions are in fact made, how they come to seem legitimate, and how they manage to destroy the liberties they are supposed to
secure (…) [on] how those limits in turn generate identities, agencies, and institutions that work through practices of self-limitation, and
transgression’’ (Walker 2006:78–79). The more
central reason has been that reading the current political and
security predicaments as a question of exceptionalism risks to reproduce a ‘‘jargon’’ that produces
concepts of the political that at best marginalize and at worst eliminate from view the category that in modern
political thought and history has been an essential component of democratic political practice.
Extend: Praxis Key
Agamben’s ontology of potentiality fails to account for bare life’s material praxis –
nonaction and contestation collapse distinctions between sovereignty and bare life in
a liberatory movement towards freedom
Ziarek 8 (Ewa, Julian Park Professor of Comparative Literature and Founding Director of the Humanities
Institute at the University at Buffalo, “Bare Life on Strike: Notes on the Biopolitics of Race and Gender”,
South Atlantic Quarterly 107:1, Winter 2008, Online:, 7/13, DTS)
Agamben is right that the praxis of liberation calls for the ontology of potentiality. Yet he never considers potentiality from
the perspective of bare life—that is, from the perspective of the impossible—focusing instead on the
often obliterated difference between potentiality and sovereign power. What makes it especially difficult for him
to theorize emancipation in any greater detail are the parallels he establishes all too quickly between potentiality,
event, the excess of the constituting power, and sovereign exception. In his polemic, Agamben claims that there
are in fact no grounds to distinguish between revolutionary praxis and sovereign exception: “The problem of the difference between
constituting power and sovereign power is, certainly, essential.
Yet the fact that constituting power neither derives from
the constituted order nor limits itself to instituting it—being, rather free praxis—still says nothing as
to constituting power’s alterity with respect to sovereign power” (HS, 43). Perhaps Agamben does not
see any criterion by which to distinguish transformative praxis from sovereign violence because he is
primarily concerned with the topological excess of sovereign violence vis-à-vis the political order. As he
admits, “The question ‘Where?’ is the essential one once neither the constituting power nor the sovereign can be situated wholly inside or
altogether outside the constituted order” (HS, 42). However, if we switch the terms of the analysis from “were” to “how”— that is, from
Agamben’s topology to the most important Foucauldian lesson about techniques of power—then
the difference between
transformative praxis and sovereign violence becomes more apparent. Although both types of power
exceed the constituted order, their mode of operation is different. The excess of sovereign power manifests itself as
a suspension of the law, as the exclusion of bare life, as a state of exception that either confirms the norm or, in extreme cases, collapses the
distinction between the exception and the norm. The
mode of operation of the transformative power, however, is
not the decision on the exception but the negation of existing exclusions from the political followed
by the unpredictable and open-ended process of creating new forms of collective life—a process that
in certain respects more closely resembles an aesthetic experiment rather than an instrumental
action. As I have suggested, another reason Agamben does not consider the practice of liberation in any greater depth is that his
ontology of potentiality is developed to undermine sovereign will and not to transform bare life— the
configuration of the impossible—into a site of contestation and political possibility. To theorize the notion of
bare life as a contested terrain, I would like to turn now to another political case—to the British suffragettes’ use of the hunger strike at the
beginning of the twentieth century. This case reveals once again three interrelated aspects of bare life: its negative differentiation with respect
to the politics of race and gender; its subjection to different forms of violence; and its role in multiple emancipatory movements. Let me begin
with the facts that tend to be all too easily taken for granted. At the turn of the twentieth century, racialized and gendered subjectivities still
occupied liminal positions in Western democracies and as such were associated in the political imaginary with the inclusive exclusion of bare
life. Yet
these subjectivities were also the “bearers” and the creators of a very different legacy of
modernity, that of multiple liberation movements. In this context, the suffragettes’ hunger strikes can
be regarded as an invention of a mode of political contestation, which mobilizes bare life for
emancipatory struggle. Consequently, this case allows us to supplement Agamben’s analysis in a crucial way: a hunger strike not only
reveals the hidden aporia of democracy—the aporia between the politicization of bare life as the object of biopower and political freedom
guaranteed by Bare Life on Strike 99 human rights—but it also shows how this aporia can enable revolutionary transformation. Although the
history of hunger strikes is often obscure, they were practiced in ancient Rome, medieval Ireland, and India as a means of protest, frequently to
exert moral pressure or to force a debtor to return his debt.12 After the Easter Rising of 1916 in Ireland, the hunger strike was adopted in the
Irish struggle for independence in 1917,13 and it was most famously employed by Mohandas Gandhi, who fasted at least fourteen times in
British-occupied India.14 Nonetheless, it was militant British suffragettes who in 1909 revived and redefined the hunger strike as a modern
political weapon of an organized movement by linking it for the first time with the discourse of human rights. The political practice of hunger
striking in suffrage agitation was initiated by suffrage militant, painter, and artist Marion Wallace Dunlop, who was arrested and sentenced to
one month of imprisonment for having written on the wall of Parliament an extract from the English Bill of Rights.15 Dunlop began a hunger
strike to protest the denial of the status of the political offender, and after ninety-one hours of fasting, she was released because prison
officials, ignorant about the effects of the hunger strike, were afraid she would become a martyr for suffragettes. By the time other suffragette
prisoners were released before the expiration of their sentences, the hunger strike had been adopted by members of the suffrage movement as
an effective political weapon both to terminate prison sentences and to create new possibilities of revolt within the disciplinary apparatus of
the prison. In response to this unprecedented act of protest, after King Edward VII’s personal intervention in August 1909, Home Secretary
Herbert Gladstone ordered the striking suffragettes to be force-fed— a brutal punitive retaliation, which up to that point had been practiced
primarily in insane asylums.16 How can we understand this configuration of the hunger strike as a weapon of resistance and the sadistic
brutality of forcible feedings? Although this was one of the most dramatic episodes in the struggle for women’s suffrage,17 hunger strikes and
the political reprisals of forcible feeding are still undertheorized means of democratic protest. In his study of nonviolent political action, Sharp
classifies the hunger strike as a means of political intervention demanding a transformation of power relations and a redress for injustice.18 For
Kyra Landzelius, the hunger strike is a “corporeal challenge” to the “discursive practices of power.”19 As suggested by Lady Constance Lytton’s
letter to the Times, written on behalf of her- self and eleven other hunger-striking suffragettes on October 10, 1909, the
hunger strike is
both a protest and a demand for new freedoms, an appeal articulated through the double, sharply
disjoined medium of a publicly circulating letter and the starving body secluded in prison and barred
from public appearance. In her letter, Lytton claims that subjugated groups resort to violence against their bodies when rational lawbased arguments fail—that is, when instituted political speech is deprived of its performative power: “We want to make it known that we shall
carry on our protest in our prison cells. We shall put before the Government by means of the hungerstrike four alternatives: to release us in a
few days; to inflict violence on our bodies; to add death to the champions of our cause by leaving us to starve; or, and this is the best and only
wise alternative, to give women the vote. We appeal to the Government to yield, not to the violence of our protest, but to the reasonableness
of our demand.”20 Lytton’s emphasis on the “violence” of the hunger strike seems paradoxical: such violence, inflicted on the self as a
substitute target for political power, acts by refusing to act; it collapses clear distinctions between passivity and activity, actuality and
potentiality, victim and enemy. On the one hand, the hunger strike repeats, mimics, and exposes in public the hidden irrational violence of the
sovereign state against women’s bodies. On
the other hand, by usurping the state’s power over bare life, the
“nonact” of self-starvation negates women’s exclusion and calls for the transformation of the law. By
usurping sovereign power over bare life, hunger-striking women occupy both of these positions—the
sovereign and homo sacer—at the same time, and this is what distinguishes their status from
comatose patients, the inmates of concentration camps, that is, from all those beings that, in extreme
destitution, are reduced to bare life alone. What is thus performed in the hunger strike is the collapse
of the distinctions between sovereignty and bare life, will and passivity, potentiality and actuality, the
struggle for freedom and the risk of self-annihilation. Maud Ellmann rightly calls such a performance a “gamble with
mortality.”21 And as the word gamble implies, at stake here is a transformation of the central opposition
between the sovereign decision and bare life into radical contingency in political life.
State engagement is a better method ---- refusal to engage in the methodical politics
of democratic citizenship makes their impacts inevitable.
Dietz, Professor of Political Science and Gender Studies Program at Northwestern University, ‘94
American Political Science Review, Vol. 88, No. 4 December 1994,]
Earlier, in considering the means-end category in politics, I suggested that everything
hinges upon the action context within
which this mode of thinking takes place. I now want to suggest that there is a richer conceptual context-beyond utilitarian
objectification, rational capitalist accumulation, and/or Leninism-within which to think about the category of means and ends. Weil offers this
alternative in her account of methodical thinking as (1) problem(solutions) in response
oriented, (2) directed toward enacting a plan or method
to problems identified, (3) attuned to intelligent mastery (not domination), and (4) purposeful but not
driven by a single end or success. Although Weil did not even come close to doing this herself, we might derive from her account
of methodical thinking an action concept of politics. Methodical politics is equally opposed to the
ideological politics Hannah Arendt deplores, but it is also distinct in important respects from the theatrical politics she defends.
Identifying a problem-or what the philosopher David Wiggins calls "the search for the best specification of what would
honor or answer to relevant concerns" (1978, 145)-is where methodical politics begins.26 It continues (to extrapolate
from Weil's image of the methodical builders) in the determination of a means-end sequel, or method, directed toward a political aim. It
reaches its full realization in the actual undertaking of the plan of action , or method, itself. To read any of
these action aspects as falling under technical rules or blueprints (as Arendt tends to do when dealing with means and ends)
is to confuse problem solving with object making and something methodical with something
ideological. By designating a problem orientation to political activity, methodical politics assigns value
to the activity of constantly deploying "knowing and doing" on new situations or on new
understandings of old ones. This is neither an ideological exercise in repetition nor the insistent redeployment of the same pattern
onto shifting circumstances and events. The problem orientation that defines methodical politics rests upon a recognition of the political
domain as a matrix of obstacles where it is impossible to secure an ideological fix or a single focus. In general, then, methodical politics is best
under- stood from the perspective of "the fisherman battling 880 American Political Science Review Vol. 88, No. 4 against wind and waves in his
little boat" (Weil 1973, 101) or perhaps as Michael Oakeshott puts it: "In political activity . . . men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is
neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor ap- pointed destination" (1962, 127).27 Neither Weil's nor
Oakeshott's is the perspective of the Platonist, who values chiefly the modeller who constructs his ship after pre-existing Forms or the pilotphilosopher who steers his craft to port by the light of immutable Forms fixed in a starry night. In both of the Platonic images (where the polis is
either an artifact for use or a conveyance to safe harbor), a single and predictable end is already to hand. Neither Weil's nor Oakeshott's images
admit any equivalent finality. The same is true of methodical politics, where political phenomena present to citizens-as the high sea presents to
the sailor-challenges to be identified, demands to be met, and a context of circumstances to be engaged (without blueprints). Neither the
assurance of finality nor the security of certainty attends this worldly activity. In his adamantly instrumental reading of politics in the ancient
world, M.I. Finley makes a similar point and distinguishes between a problem orientation and patterned predictability by remarking upon the
"iron compulsion" the Greeks and Romans were under "to be continuously inventive, as new and often unantic- ipated problems or difficulties
arose that had to be resolved without the aid of precedents or models" (1983, 53). With this in mind, we might appreciate methodical politics
as a mode of action oriented toward problems and solutions within a context of adventure and unfamiliarity. In this sense, it is compatible with
Arendt's emancipatory concept of natality (or "new beginnings") and her appreciation of openness and unpredictability in the realm of human
affairs. There are other neighborly affinities between methodical and theatrical politics as well. Both share a view of political actors as finite and
fragile creatures who face an infinite range of possibilities, with only limited powers of control and imagination over the situations in which they
are called upon to act. From both a methodical and a theatrical vantage point, this
perpetual struggle that is politics, whatever
its indeterminacy and flux, acquires meaning only when "knowing what to do and doing it" are united in the
same performance (Arendt, 1958a, 223). Freedom, in other words, is realized when Plato's brilliant and devious conceptual
maneuver is outwitted by a politics that opposes "the escape from action into rule" and reasserts human selfrealization as the unification of thought-action in the world (pp. 223-25). In theatrical politics, however, the
actual action content of citizen "knowing and doing" is upstaged by the spectacular appearance of
personal identities courageously revealed in the public realm. Thus Plato's maneuver is outwitted in a
bounded space where knowing what to do and doing it are disclosed in speech acts and deeds of selfrevelation in the company of one's-fellow citizens. In contrast, methodical politics doggedly reminds us that purposes
themselves are what matter in the end, and that citizen action is as much about obstinately pursuing
them as it is about the courage to speak in performance. So, in methodical politics, the Platonic split between knowing
and doing is overcome in a kind of boundless navigation that is realized in purposeful acts of collective self-determination. Spaces of
appearances are indispensable in this context, but these spaces are not exactly akin to "islands in a sea or as oases in a desert" (Arendt 1970,
279). The parameters of methodical politics are more fluid than this, set less by identifiable boundaries than by the very activity through which
citizens "let realities work upon" them with "inner concentration and calmness" (Weber 1946, 115). In this respect, methodical
is not a context wherein courage takes eloquent respite from the face of life, danger (the sea, the desert), or death: it is
a daily
confrontation wherein obstacles or dangers (including the ultimate danger of death) are transformed into problems, problems are rendered amenable to possible action, and action is undertaken with an aim
toward solution. Indeed, in these very activities, or what Arendt sometimes pejoratively calls the in order to, we might find the
perpetuation of what she praises as the for the sake of which, or the perpetuation of politics itself (1958a, 154). To appreciate the
emancipatory dimension of this action concept of politics as methodical, we might now briefly return to
the problem that Arendt and Weil think most vexes the modern world-the deformation of human beings and human
affairs by forces of automatism. This is the complex manipulation of modern life that Havel describes as the
situation in which everything "must be cossetted together as firmly as possible, predetermined,
regulated and controlled" and "every aberration from the prescribed course of life is treated as error,
license and anarchy" (1985, 83). Constructed against this symbolic animal laborans, Arendt's space of appearances is the agonistic
opposite of the distorted counterfeit reality of automatism. The space of appearances is where individuality and
personal identity are snatched from the jaws of automatic processes and recuperated in "the
merciless glare" of the public realm (Arendt 1969, 86). Refigured in this fashion, Arendtian citizens counter reductive
technological complexes in acts of individual speech revelation that powerfully proclaim, in collective effect, "This is who we are!" A politics in
this key does indeed dramatically defy the objectifying processes of modern life-and perhaps even narratively transcends them by delivering up
what is necessary for the reification of human remembrance in the "storybook of mankind" (Arendt 1958a, 95). But these are also its limits. For
whatever else it involves, Arendtian politics cannot entail the practical confrontation of the situation that threatens the human condition most.
Within the space of appearances, Arendt's citizens can neither search for the best specification of the problem before them nor, it seems,
pursue solutions to the problem once it is identified, for such activities involve "the pursuit of a definite aim which can be set by practical
considerations," and that is homo faber's prerogative and so in the province of "fabrication," well outside the space of appearances where
means and ends are left behind (pp. 170-71). Consequently, automatism can be conceptualized as a "danger sign" in Arendt's theory, but
it cannot be designated as a problem in Arendt's politics, a problem that citizens could cognitively counter and purposefully attempt to resolve
or transform (p. 322). From
the perspective of methodical politics, which begins with a problem orientation,
automatism can be specified and encountered within the particular spaces or circumstances (schools,
universities, hospitals, factories, corporations, prisons, laboratories, houses of finance, the home, public arenas, public agencies) upon which its
technological processes intrude. Surely something like this is what Weil has in mind when she calls for "a sequence of mental efforts" in the
drawing up of "an inventory of modern civilization" that
begins by "refusing to subordinate one's own destiny to the
course of history" (1973, 123-24). Freedom is immanent in such moments of cognitive inventory, in the collective citizenwork of "taking stock"-identifying problems and originating methods-and in the shared pursuit of
purposes and objectives . This is simply what it means to think and act methodically in spaces of appearances. Nothing less, as
Wiggins puts it, "can rescue and preserve civilization from the mounting irrationality of the public province, . . . from Oppression exercised in
the name of Management (to borrow Simone Weil's prescient phrase)" (1978, 146).
Agamben’s genealogy of the State of Exception and Homo Sacer ignores the role the
animal plays in creating these categories, and the animal’s permanent placement in
the state of exception that is the root cause of countenance violence against the other
Shukin 09 (Nicole Shukin, assistant professor of English at the University of Victoria in British
Columbia. “Animal Capital: Rendering Life in Biopolitical Times” Published 2009, Accessed 7.8.18, ) //ZoL
This book initiates a different trajectory of biopolitical—or, we might say, zoopolitical—critique, one beginning with a challenge to the
assumption that the social flesh and “species body” at stake in the logic of biopower is predominantly human.27 Actual
animals have
already been subtly displaced from the category of “species” in Foucault’s early remarks on biopower, as
well as in the work of subsequent theorists of biopower, for whom animality functions predominantly
as a metaphor for that corporeal part of “man” that becomes subject to biopolitical calculation . In
Agamben’s influential theorization of “bare life,” for in- stance, animals’ relation to capitalist biopower is
occluded by his species-specific conflation of zoe ̄ with a socially stripped-down figure of Homo sacer that
he traces back to antiquity.28 However, the theo- rization of bare life as “that [which] may be killed and yet not
sacri- ficed”29—a state of exception whose paradigmatic scenario in moder- nity is, for Agamben, the concentration camp— finds its
zoopolitical supplement in Derrida’s theorization of the “non-criminal putting to death” of animals , a
related state of exception whose paradigmatic sce- nario is arguably the modern industrial
slaughterhouse.30 Indeed, the power to reduce humans to the bare life of their species body arguably
presupposes the prior power to suspend other species in a state of excep- tion within which they can be
noncriminally put to death. As Cary Wolfe writes, “as long as it is institutionally taken for granted that it is all
right to systematically exploit and kill nonhuman animals simply because of their species, then the
humanist discourse of species will always be available for use by some humans against other humans as
well, to countenance violence against the social other of whatever species—or gender, or race, or class,
or sexual difference.”31 Trophy photos of U.S. military personnel terrorizing Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison in 2004 showed, among
other things, a naked Iraqi man on all fours, with a leash around his neck, and prisoners cowering before German shepherd dogs. Cruelly, the
dog is made to function as a racist prosthetic of the U.S. military’s power to animalize “the other,” a
power that applies in the first instance to the animal itself.32
These notions of what is the distinction and the hierarchies between races are formed
upon the basis of the otherization of animals
Shukin 09 (Nicole Shukin, assistant professor of English at the University of Victoria in British
Columbia. “Animal Capital: Rendering Life in Biopolitical Times” Published 2009, Accessed 7.8.18, ) //ZoL
***Don’t read this, please. I just cut it because it was the next paragraph…
The biopolitical production of the bare life of the animal other subtends, then, the biopolitical production
of the bare life of the racial- ized other . Returning to Foucault’s ruminations on biopower, it becomes apparent that
within “the biological continuum addressed by biopower” there is a line drawn within the living prior to
the one inscribed by racism, a species line occluded and at the same time inadvertently re- vealed by
Foucault’s use of the term “subspecies” to describe the effects of racialization:
What in fact is racism? It is primarily a way of introducing a break into the domain of life that is
under power’s control: the break between what must live and what must die . The appearance
within the biological con- tinuum of the human race of races, the distinction among races, the
hier- archy of races, the fact that certain races are described as good and that others, in contrast, are
described as inferior: all this is a way of fragment- ing the field of the biological that power
controls....This will allow power . . . to subdivide the species it controls, into the subspecies
known, precisely, as races.33
The pivotal insight enabled by Foucault—that biopower augurs “noth- ing less than the entry of life into history,
that is, the entry of phenom- ena peculiar to the life of the human species into the order of knowledge
and power”34— bumps up against its own internal limit at the species line . The biopolitical analyses he has
inspired, in turn, are constrained by their reluctance to pursue power’s effects beyond the production of
human social and/or species life and into the zoopolitics of animal capital.35
Agamben’s fixation on the Muselmann obfuscates the master slave dichotomy
between whiteness, and blackness and redness, that truly underpins this relation
Wilderson 10 (Frank B. Wilderson III, is a professor at UC Irvine, “Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the
Structure of U.S. Antagonisms,” Published March 2010, Accessed 7.9.18 ) //ZoL
Thirty to forty years before the current milieu of multiculturalism, immigrants rights activism, White women’s liberation, and sweat shop
struggles, Frantz Fanon found himself writing in a post-WWII era fixated on the Jewish holocaust as the affective destination that made legible
the ensemble of questions that animated the political common sense of oppression. The holocaust provided a “natural” metaphor through
which ontologists in Fanon’s time, such as Sartre, worked out a grammar through which the question, what does it mean to suffer, can be
asked. The
Jewish Holocaust as “natural” metaphor continues to anchor many of today’s metacommentaries. Giorgio Agamben’s meditations on the Muselmann, for example, allow him to claim
Auschwitz as:
[S]omething so unprecedented that one tries to make it comprehensible by bringing it back to
categories that are both extreme and absolutely familiar: life and death, dignity and indignity.
Among these categories, the rue cipher of Auschwitz-the Muselmann, the ‘core of the camp,’ he
whom ‘no one wants to see,’ and who is inscribed in every testimony as lacuna— wavers
without finding a definite position. (Remnants of Auschwitz 81)
Agamben is not wrong, so much as he is late . Auschwitz is not “so unprecedented” to one whose frame
of reference is the Middle Passage, followed by Native American genocide. In this way, Auschwitz would
rank third or fourth in a normative, as opposed to “unprecedented,” pattern. Agamben goes on to sketch out
the ensemble of questions that Churchill and Spillers have asked, but he does so by deploying the Jewish Muselmann as the
template of such questions, instead of the Red “Savage,” or the Black Slave:
In one case, [the Muselmann] appears
as the non-living, as the being whose life is not truly life; in
the other, as he whose death cannot be called death, but only the production of a corpse—as the
inscription of life in a dead area and, in death, of a living area. In both cases, what is called into question is the very
humanity of man, since man observes the fragmentation of his privileged tie to what constitutes
him as human, that is, the sacredness of death and life. The Muselmann is the non-human who
obstinately appears as human; he is the human that cannot be told apart from the inhuman .
In the historiography of intellectual thought, Agamben’s widely
cited template of the Muselmann is an elaboration
of Sartre’s work. As philosophers, they work both to fortify and extend the interlocutory life of widely
accepted political common sense which positions the German/Jewish relation as the sin-qua-non of a
structural antagonism, thus allowing political philosophy to attribute ontological—and not just social—
significance to the Jewish Holocaust. Fanon has no truck with all of this. He dismisses the presumed antagonism between
Germans and Jews by calling the Holocaust “little family quarrels” (115), recasting with this single stroke the German/Jew encounter as a
conflict rather than an antagonism. Fanon returns the Jew to his/her rightful position—a position within civil society animated by an ensemble
of Human discontents. The
Muselmann, then, can be seen as a provisional moment within existential
Whiteness, when Jews were subjected to Blackness and Redness—and the explanatory power of the
Muselmann can find its way back to sociology, history, or political science where it more rightfully
belongs. This is one of several moments in Black Skin, White Masks when Fanon splits the hair between social oppression and structural
suffering, making it possible to theorize the impossibility of a Black ontology (thus allowing us to meditate on how the Black suffers) without
being chained to the philosophical and rhetorical demands of analogy, demands which the evidentiary register of social oppression (i.e., how
many Jews died in the ovens, how many Blacks were lost in the Middle Passage) normally imposes upon such meditations. The
ruse of
analogy erroneously locates the Black in the world—a place where s/he has not been since the dawning
of Blackness. This attempt to position the Black in the world by way of analogy is not only a mystification, and
often erasure, of Blackness’s grammar of suffering (accumulation and fungibility or the status of being non-Human) but
simultaneously also a provision for civil society, promising an enabling modality for Human ethical
dilemmas . It is a mystification and an erasure because, whereas Masters may share the same fantasies
as Slaves, and Slaves can speak as though they have the same interests as Masters, their respective
grammars of suffering are irreconcilable.
Agamben can’t take into account social death which is the underpins the soverign and
homo sacer binary – This turns case because the Slave and social death is always a
priori to other forms of exclusion
Kline 17 (David Kline, is a Lecturer of Religion, Race, and Ethnicity in the Americas at the Department of
Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee, “The Pragmatics of Resistance: Framing Anti-Blackness
and the Limits of Political Ontology,” Critical Philosophy of Race, Vol. 5, No. 1, SPECIAL ISSUE: CHARLES
MILLS AND HIS CRITICS (2017), pp. 51-69, Accessed 7.9.18, ) //ZoL
In perhaps one of the most striking and unsettling passages in Red, White, and Black, Wilderson takes
Fanon’s reflections on the difference between Jewish suffering and Black suffering and makes a striking
comparison between the events of the Holocaust and the Middle Passage that gets to the core of the
absolute antagonism between Blackness and all other ontological positions within the world:
Jews went into Auschwitz and came out as Jews. Africans went into the ships and came out as
Blacks . The former is a Human holocaust; the latter is a Human and a metaphysical holocaust .
That is why it makes little sense to attempt analogy: the Jews have the dead (the Muselmann)
among them; the dead have the Blacks among them (Wilderson 2010, 38).
This quotation comes at the end of a brief critique of Giorgio Agamben, whose own political ontology is
also centered on an extreme binary distinction between ontological positions. There are two angles from
which Wilderson critiques Agamben’s ontology of suffering. First , he takes issue with Agamben’s
characterization of Auschwitz as “something so unprecedented
that one tries to make it comprehensible by bringing
it back to categories that are both extreme and absolutely familiar: life and death, dignity and indignity” (Agamben 1999, 81–82).
Auschwitz, Wilderson notes, is not so unprecedented for those that have the middle passage or the
Native American genocide as their frame of reference.2 This is obvious enough, although bracketed or simply ignored for
the most part in contemporary critical theory. Second , and more important for Wilderson’s ontology, is the Fanonian critique of
Agamben’s (implicit) assumption that the Holocaust is an example of an antagonism between the Nazis
and the Jews, a paradigmatic example of the relationship between absolute sovereignty and bare life.
The critique is subtle while at the same time devastating, and it is hard to see on the surface.3 As is well known, Agamben’s
political ontology is structured around the two poles of sovereign power and bare life that work as the
ends of a formal and paradoxical juridical-political order in which both are simultaneously included and
excluded: bare life is inscribed in the law by the fact that it is abandoned of its protection and sovereign
power establishes the law through extra-legal means (i.e., the state of exception). Agamben argues that the political
ontology of the West (of which he finds an origin in the ancient Greeks that travels unbroken into the present) has been and continues to be
defined around this originary and fundamental binary distinction between bare life (zoe) and political life (bios) that pro- vides the conceptual
frame through which sovereign power is possible. The state of exception, which Agamben argues is the original means of abandoning and
binding life in relation to the law (Agamben 2005, 1), constitutes a juridical-political sphere (the polis) against which certain life is excluded from
the law’s jurisdiction while at the same time being paradoxically included within it. I include this brief summary of Agamben’s ontological
structure of sovereignty and bare life in order to show its structural and formal similarity with Wilderson’s ontology, also structured around two
extreme poles that provide negative images of one another. However, Wilderson
pushes Agamben’s structure deeper still
and radicalizes it by negating altogether the included exclusion that keeps bare life implicated in Human
being. In this sense, the difference between Agamben and Wilderson is precisely the difference between
Wilderson’s notion of a conflict and that of an antagonism . This can be a rather hard distinction to
swallow, as it is not the general experience of suffering that is at stake, a potential experience shared across all racial positions, but rather
the relation itself between Black being and all other (non-black/Human) being. This is made clear with
Wilderson’s evocation of Agamben’s reflections on the Muselmann, the name Jewish concentration camp prisoners
gave to those who had succumbed to a condition that could only be described as the threshold of Human life’s conversion to death. The
Muselmann functions for Agamben as modernity’s paradigmatic representation of bare life, the figure at the core of the camp that serves as its
“limit figure” in which “all morality and humanity themselves are called into question” (Agamben 1999, 63). Agamben describes the
he whom ‘no one wants to see,’ and who is inscribed in every testimony as a lacuna—wavers without finding a definite position. . . .
In one case, he appears as the non-living, as the being whose life is not truly life; in the other, as he whose death cannot be called
death, but only the production of a corpse—the inscription of life in a dead area and, in death, of a living area. . . . The Muselmann is
the non-human who obstinately appears as human; he is the human that cannot be told apart from the inhuman (ibid., 81–82).
The seeming parallels with Wilderson’s social death should be obvious, and, indeed, racial identity is certainly on Agamben’s radar when he is
discussing the Muselmann, although in a very Eurocentric historical sense and, in the end, in a problematic way that “transcends race” (ibid.,
85).4 Auschwitz, Agamben argues, is a culminating moment where the biopolitics of race reaches its limit point. Following Foucault’s theory of
biopolitical racism laid out in his College de France lectures Society Must Be Defended (Foucault 2007), he discusses how race functions as the
means through which states mark biological caesuras within populations. He argues that the Muselmann is the end of a long line of caesuras
that marks the limit of life’s reduction to the uttermost threshold of death. Agamben notes that “biopolitical caesuras are essentially mobile,
and in each case they isolate a further zone in the biological continuum, a zone which corresponds to a process of increasing Entwurdigung and
degradation” (Agamben 1999, 85). The camp is where the Muselmann emerges as the limit to this process, where the link between the zone of
political life and bare life is finally exhausted to the point that caesuras are no longer possible. The Muselmann is the end of a process of
violence that converts a Human being as indistinguishable from non-Human being. Wilderson
refuses this process to Black
being. As a correction to the mistake of equating the Nazi-Jewish relation as a structural antagonism,
rather than as part of an inter-European “family history” (Fanon 2008, 95), he notes that “Fanon returns the Jew to his or
her rightful position—a position within civil society animated by an ensemble of Human contents” (Wilderson 2010, 36). For Wilderson,
Agamben fails to understand the nature of the political constitution of Blackness through gratuitous
violence , and so, he does not go far enough. Wilderson’s political ontology, then, is a radicalization of
Agamben’s basic structure that digs down to another level beneath the ontological nadir of bare life:
social death . Rather than sovereign power and bare life, the opposing poles really consist of Master
can be understood as a name for the absolute sovereign) and Slave/social death . Within Agamben’s
formal structure of included exclusions, bare life, despite its exclusion under the ban, remains inscribed within
political life. Bare life is always implicated, even in its exclusion, within sovereignty. As Agamben says in the
introduction of Homo Sacer, “it will be necessary to reconsider the sense of the Aristotelian definition of the polis as the opposition between
life (zēn) and good life (eu zēn). The
opposition is, in fact, at the same time an implication of the first in the
second, of bare life in politically qualified life” (Agamben 1998, 11). Because of this, bare life’s banishment
from the political realm can never be complete or absolute . As long as bare life remains implicated in
political life, it will always remain included within the zone of Human being, even if only at its very
threshold. Such necessary incompletion is why bare life and sovereignty are held together around a conflict and not an antagonism. Social
death, then, is the absolute nothingness on which bare life is distinguished as included in the structure
of the law, even if by way of an exclusion. Social death, to be sure, remains connected as one side of a
binary distinction between Human life and Blackness. However, unlike bare life, social death is absolutely
excluded, a priori, from Human life itself ; it is a political status of a being that is always already dead
even in relation to bare life. Social death, then, is the absolute exclusion that allows for bare life to be
recognized as an included exclusion .
Globalization has rendered state centric biopower obsolete – economic modes of
oppression intervene in law to justify states of exception and create bare life
Cotula 17 (Lorenzo, Principal Researcher & Team Leader at International Institute for Environment and
Development, visiting professor, University of Strathclyde, “The state of exception and the law of the
global economy: a conceptual and empirico-legal inquiry”, Transnational Legal Theory, 8:4, 424-454,
Online:, 7/13, DTS)
Agamben places political ordering at the centre of his analysis. He does discuss the economic sphere (oikonomia),
depicting a space for managerial, technocratic decision making that correlates closely with his notion of the state of exception.35 But this
exploration falls short of fully investigating what role, if any, the state of exception plays in global
economic ordering. Agamben talks of humanity in indistinct terms and devotes limited attention to questions of labour and capital.36
Other authors have placed greater emphasis on the socio-economic dimensions of the state of exception, and even traced them to what
Agamben identifies as the conceptual roots of that notion: while Agamben connects homo sacer to
the establishment of political authority, others noted that the Roman sacratio was partly deployed to
protect the plebeians from their patrician patrons, thereby rebalancing unequal socio-economic as
well as political relations. In more contemporary terms, some critical theorists see features of global capitalism
as the main drivers of bare life in modern societies. In this perspective, ‘land grabbing’, labour exploitation
or poor living conditions in urban slums or deprived rural areas would represent the faces of bare life
in the global economy. Shifting the lens from the political to the economic brings into focus a different set of legal issues. This is
not only because human rights derogations linked to armed conflict or military occupation can be
associated with disruption of economic activities. Nor is it limited to situations where governments
invoke extraordinary circumstances to justify departures from ordinary patterns of economic
ordering—for example, to impose regressive law reforms in the name of economic necessity, or to resist
business claims for damages caused by measures taken in the context of dramatic economic reversals. Beyond these crisis
situations, the everyday operation of crossborder trade and investment flows raises questions about
what role, if any, the exception plays in global economic ordering. Exceptional legal regimes for
export-oriented activities in low- and middle-income countries—from natural resource extraction to
low-cost manufacturing—provide fertile ground to explore these questions. Rather than on crisis narratives, these
exceptional regimes are often premised on real or perceived economic imperatives such as attracting
foreign investment to promote national development. Interrogating these arrangements would require fine-tuning the
necessary conceptual categories. While in political ordering the nation-state remains the key unit of analysis and the state of exception is
primarily conceptualised in relation to national systems, the
local-to-global reality of contemporary economic relations
transcends the confines of national polities—a circumstance that is reflected in applicable legal
arrangements. Over the past few decades, extensive developments in the ‘law of the global economy’
have reconfigured normative frameworks anchored to national, international and transnational
processes—from international trade, tax and investment treaties, to national regulation in areas such
as natural resources, labour and taxation, through to transnational contracts setting tailored terms for individual business
ventures. Challenging the conventional boundaries of academic disciplines, these developments involve hybrids of public
and private regulation, increasingly sophisticated channels for the diffusion of regulatory models and
complex constellations of geographically dispersed sites of regulation at local to global levels. Socio-legal
scholarship has enriched public understanding of this interplay of both physical and legal spaces through notions of ‘global legal pluralism’, ‘law
and globalisation’, ‘global law’, and transnational law reinterpreted not just as a function of the material existence of crossborder legal
relations, but
as a methodological prism to interrogate legal institutions in contexts where space is itself
socially constructed rather than materially given.49 Overall, these evolutions blur the traditional
borderlines between the national and the international: national laws may be based on, or
‘impregnated by’, international norms, global codes of conduct and transnational channels for law diffusion—so that
identifying the formal sources of law does not fully capture the political origins, economic
assumptions, normative content and social practices associated with these norm
Humanitarian attempts at rectifying states of exceptions along the border justify
neoliberal intervention into flow of immigration across the border
Dowle 17 (Lewis, University of St Andrews, Postgraduate ESRC, “Spaces of Exception and Refusal? The
Borderzone of Mexico/US”, E-International Relations, Online:
zone_of_MexicoUS, 7/4, DTS)
Humanitarianism and Resistance – Polarities and Peculiarities Through the lens of humanitarianism in the Mexico/US borderland, the best and
worst of society are at play in a clash of titans. Despite migration being perceived as a threat to the US Homeland Security, it is rather the
migrants themselves who are likely in danger fleeing from conflict or poverty (Ibrahim, 2005). The US discourse towards migrants has evolved
from simply determining who may be crossing the border illegally, to now creating a culture of suspicion with every undocumented migrant
being perceived as a terrorist threat. The migrant therefore becomes guilty until proven otherwise. Non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) including Tucson Samaritans and No More Deaths (NMD) were established in
the 2002 and 2004 respectively to identify migration paths and aid in the provision of food, drink,
blankets and healthcare. These NGOs have come under scrutiny and even arrest as volunteers rushed
three migrants to the hospital to receive medical attention. This occurrence was concomitant with the rise in the US
Border Patrol assuming the role of humanitarianism, taking the responsibility onto themselves with NGOs becoming “criminalized and
regulated to a greater and greater degree”. This
seemingly Janus-faced allure of US border patrol serves only to
further enforce territorial sovereignty. Since then, those in need of medical help are taken to hospital
by these petty sovereigns, only to be handcuffed as they receive treatment before being deported.
Where there are spaces of exception, resistance always follows. Foucault’s analysis of power was rooted in the notion
of where power prevails, resistance ensues. The ‘Prevention through Deterrence’ policy, a state of perennial
exception as the Camp, offers the opportunity for resistance Those the state deems to be bare life
contain the power to resist authority and oppression; though infrequent, Doty explains how each survivor performs
resistance against the US state. Doty continues in regards to ‘intrinsic resistance’, how biopower is enacted through the Border Patrol’s Search
and Rescue division which rescues undocumented migrants from a death which they have led them to. In many respects, the US state controls
the individuals in their lives and deaths, resonating with Foucault’s ‘to make live and let die’. The ‘Land of the Free’ ergo becomes the antithesis
to freedom, creating in the borderzone the nullification of rights for undocumented migrants. With such humanitarianism being averted by the
political eye, Agamben attests to the division of the rights of the man/woman from those of a citizen. The
very persecution many
migrants flee becomes a sobering reality within the Mexico/US borderzone. State actions serve as
‘minimalist biopolitics’ in conserving life, rather preventing death, only to more efficiently remove the
individual. Furthermore, the NGOs that remain are not only less empowered, but increasingly under
the influence of neoliberalism, becoming “like full-blooded capitalists”. With the inextricable link
between humanitarianism and capitalism, NGOs can never be seen as apolitical (though this is
contested), with each carrying a politics and polity they serve. This relation to capitalism will now be
expounded upon. Security/Economy Nexus To Western societies, life is valued in economic terms, with
capitalist individuals being deemed the blueprint that all should aspire to. The migration within the
borderzone is intimately tied to capital, with Massey et al. highlighting how the financial crisis in 2008-2009 resulted in one
million fewer undocumented migrants attempting to cross the border. This finding confirms the work of Nevins (2007)
who discovered the inextricable link between the Central American coffee trade and the actions of
the US economy. Capitalism can be seen to underpin and drive this cross-border migration. Naomi Klein
provides a further darkening assertion, maintaining that the technologies realized in the borderzone of Mexico/US are the direct consequence
and action of Israel’s resonant security industry fueled by its conflict with Palestine. The
Israeli firm Elbit, responsible in part
for the Israel/Palestine border, has been contracted alongside Boeing to complete the ‘virtual border’
along Mexico/US border. Hence capitalism has implications not only within the borderzone of
Mexico/US, but also with repercussions across the globe. Colás and Pozo would highlight here the
commodification of territory, where the borderzone (both the Mexico/US border and Israel/Palestine border) serve as
grounds for capital accumulation and expansion. The social infrastructure of Smart Borders permits
the flow of goods to keep capitalism’s ruthless heart beating, with a borderzone open to capital and
closed to persons. It is here that Coleman’s Security/Economy nexus collides, with the social elite utilizing the borderzone not only to
protect the economy within, but further still, they even use the borderzone as a ground for valorization, turning the USA’s perceived threat of
terrorism into financial gain.
Capital has exceeded the limit of the sovereign and has depoliticized modes of
governmentality that reproduce the neoliberal regimes
Hickman 16 (S.C., Resistance Blogger, Poet, Short Story Writer, and Philosopher, "End of Sovereignty:
Bare Life and the Coming Civil-War?", Southern Nights, 2-19-2016, Online:, 7-13-2018, DTS)
The point here is that the West has produced through its very practices of sovereignty that which is
now in our age performing the task of destruction of that very Sovereignty. Through our very inclusive
exclusions of bare life we have broken the boundaries between “violence and law, the threshold on which violence
passes over into law and law passes over into violence,” upon which the whole metaphysical edifice was built thereby providing in our time the demolition of the
Sovereignty of Nations. In some ways the whole fabric
of thought, metaphysics, language, law, rhetoric, etc., that have
held together the socio-cultural forms of Western Civilization are unraveling all around us. We are seeing by
way of its own inner logic the self-destruction of Western Civilization at its own hands. For two centuries now from Kant to our time the Enlightenment project was
the last ditch effort to shore up the ruins of an already decaying and dying form of political and social life on this planet. That we have in our time opened up the
doors to our own destruction at the hands of the remaining civilizations on the planet is only fitting. What will this lead too? All
the talk of certain
nations in the EU and the Americas of closing down the borders, sealing themselves off in hermetically
sealed cities, enclaves, security zones; building bigger fences and exclusions is just the last ditch effort
of an already dying and dissolving sovereignty which is leading us into a far stranger period of transition than we at first assumed. It’s
as if the globalist agenda of capitalism is withdrawing from the globe into the Human Security Regime
where it seeks to exclude rather than include reality, rather it is withdrawing into a information
society, a solipsistic network of infospheric financialism as it enforces everywhere in the Third World a
slow death and decomposition, a war on the earth’s remaining resources at the expense of the Third
World. While the homeworlds are allowed to become Third World nations in themselves the elite 01.% have built their dream Oasis’s, their Dream Cities
around the global jet-set nodal points where they can live under the cold eye of surveillance, security, and an ultra-fascistic police system that defends and protects
them against the others… us. The old nations can fall into boudarylessness as far as these new plutocrats are concerned. For them this is part of the global
socialization program of de-sovereignization. They don’t want the old First World to remain as it is, but rather for those not astute enough to become apart of the
.01% the world will become a flatland of economic chaos and poverty over the coming century. Yet, there is no conspiracy behind it, no bad old boys pulling the
strings as in far-right conspiracy theory. Rather this is capitalization itself working out its own logic in a global rather than a national setting. Once
you gain
the global capital vision you gain a different perspective of finance, banking, governance, etc. across
the board. Most on the Left still are hindered at the national level of political struggle when the world of Capital has moved on leaving the Nation State to
fend for itself and die a bad death. Oh sure the propaganda machines of the mediascape still whistle the tune of old style politics as usual but its over, done, dead. It
cannot be revived, and has no use value in the global arena anymore. The
EU is the model of the future de-politicized economic
regime. Nations have already lost their sovereignty accept as fictions for the popular folk
mythologists. Nations are defunct and dying. But Capital will live on without them… In 2007 we began
to see Michael Serres notions of parasitism come into play. As Michael Husdon’s expose Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites
and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy tells it the systemic disabling of regulations on Wall Street has resulted in the following, says Hudson: “…the
wealthiest One Percent have captured nearly all the growth in income since the 2008 crash. Holding
the rest of society in debt to
themselves, they have used their wealth and creditor claims to gain control of the election process
and governments by supporting lawmakers who un-tax them, and judges or court systems that refrain
from prosecuting them. Obliterating the logic that led society to regulate and tax rentiers in the first
place, think tanks and business schools favor economists who portray rentier takings as a contribution
to the economy rather than as a subtrahend from it.” Continuing he comments: “In nature, parasites tend to kill hosts that are
dying, using their substance as food for the intruder’s own progeny. The economic analogy takes hold when financial managers use depreciation allowances for
stock buybacks or to pay out as dividends instead of replenishing and updating their plant and equipment. Tangible capital investment, research and development
and employment are cut back to provide purely financial returns.” This is not neoliberalism, but rather what Franco Berardi and others term the financilization of
the economy as dematerialized hyperware. As he remarks in Emancipation of the Sign: Poetry and Finance During the Twentieth Century: “The dephysicalization of
money is part of the general process of abstraction, which is the all-encompassing tendency of capitalism. Marx’s theory of value is based on the concept of abstract
work: because it is the source and the measure of value, work has to sever its relation to the concrete usefulness of its activity and product. From the point of view
of valorization, concrete usefulness does not matter. In a similar vein, Baudrillard speaks of the relation between signification and language. The abstraction process
at the core of the capitalist capture (subsumption) of work implies abstraction from the need for the concreteness of products: the referent is erased.” Everything
has entered the electronic void. Tangible goods do not matter to this market. The reason why the middle-class market of commodities has vanished, why banks no
longer invest in businesses. There is no money there: none. So
idiot’s like Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio –
conservatives (?) have no clue when they tell us they’ll produce jobs, bring companies back to
America, close down the world, force tariffs and embargoes etc. It’s like a return to pre-critical thought in conservative
clothing… a rationalism leading to fantasy and total collapse. While the Bankers and financiers just laugh and continue to plunder the hyperware in the slipstream…
It’s this total disconnect between politics and economics, a bifurcation that is leading to the schizophrenaztion of democracy that Berardi alludes to when he says,
are tracing here the dynamic of a disaster, the disaster that capitalism is inserting into
hypermodern subjectivity, the disaster of acceleration and panic. But simultaneously, we have to look
for a rhythm that may open a further landscape, a landscape beyond panic and the precarious affects
of loneliness and despair.” Capital is withdrawing from democracy everywhere: it no longer needs
politics or democracy. The faster the Left wakes up out of its sleep the better off it will be, for far too long it has beat its head against a fantasy world
of neoliberalism (does this term even mean anything anymore?), while real capitalist markets and profits have moved elsewhere. The target has
vanished into the network, gone invisible. Only the shell of a mediapropaganda machine is left in the
wake to keep the masses eyes off the ball… The Left needs a global framework within which to approach this flattened economic
topology and mapping of the EconoSpheric network society emerging from the rubble of the Nation States. Only the nodal points, the City States where Capital still
elaborates its compositional and deco-positional pressures will remain.
A new temporal regime based on excess and affluence is
emerging from the older systems… most Leftist thought still has its eye on the outmoded neoliberal
fictions of the 80’s. All gone, all dead. With the rise of bitcoin and blockchain a new financial system is arising based on smart money, tagged information
rich economy that will only gain in resonance as the years progress. I think works like Maurizio Lazzarato’s recently translated Signs and Machines: Capitalism and
the Production of Subjectivity falls somewhere in this sphere, effectively balancing and joining critiques of contemporary capitalism, complex philosophies of
subjection (or the complex social production of individual subjectivities), and everyday existence, touching current western politics, yet preserving a general
openness and applicability. (see Patrick Lyons review). There’s also Frédéric Lordon’s Willing Slaves of Capital: Marx and Spinoza on Desire, which as Jason Read in
an excellent review tells us: Lordon makes a strong claim that capitalism must be considered a reorganization of desire, a claim that resonates well with neoliberal
capital’s own self-presentation as a matter of motivation and desire. However, as his own remarks about the naturalization of capital make clear, it is not just desire
that is reorganized by capitalism, but knowledge and the imagination as well. Our inability to imagine alternatives, to envision modes of happiness other than
consumer fantasies, or “dream jobs,” as well as our inability to comprehend the current economic order as just that, an economic and political order and not a fact
of life, are as much elements of our subjection as desire.
Fem K
Immigration is “sexclusionary” – Turning debates over immigration to discussions by
men about men
Jayapal 13 (Pramila Jayapal is an American politician and activist from the State of Washington who
currently serves as the U.S. Representative from Washington's 7th congressional district, “Why
Immigration Policy Is 'Sexclusionary' (and How To Fix It)” Published MAR 18, 2013 Accessed 7.7.18, ) //ZoL
If you’ve been following the current debate and news coverage, you
probably think that immigration reform is mainly
about men–the undocumented males scaling border walls, working in agriculture, doing construction
work and writing code. And when you do see women, they are normally portrayed either as helpless
victims of detention or deportation or as conniving leeches delivering what anti-immigrants call “anchor babies.”
Between this male-centered media narrative, and the fact that the Congress members crafting
immigration proposals are almost always men, it’s no surprise that immigration policy is what I’ve dubbed as
“sexclusionary.” From the numbers alone, it’s clear that immigration is a women’s issue . Women and
children comprise three-quarters of people migrating to the United States. Yet our current policy excludes them
from many of the opportunities and protections of the system, and boxes them into a small number of visa categories. As bipartisan proposals
near completion in both the Senate and House, it’s
critical that women across America change the conversation. We
must highlight the ways in which immigration policy excludes and limits women and make sure this
round of reform prioritizes issues that are essential to women’s equality.
<<Insert Link>>
Violence against women is an everyday phenomenon that is ignored but serves as the
basis for dominance and warmaking
Ray 97 (A. E. Ray, Law Clerk to the Honorable Clyde H. Hamilton, United States Court of Appeals for the
Fourth Circuit, “The Shame of it: gender-based terrorism in the former Yugoslavia and the failure of
international human rights law to comprehend the injuries,” The American University Law Review, Vol
46, ) //ZoL
In order to reach all of the violence perpetrated against the women of the former Yugoslavia that is not committed by soldiers or other officials
of the state, human lights law must move beyond its artificially constructed barriers between "public" and "private" actions: A
perspective on human rights would require a rethinking of the notions of imputability and state responsibility
and in this sense would challenge the most basic assumptions of international law. If violence against women were considered by
the international legal system to be as shocking as violence against people for their political ideas, women would have considerable support in
their struggle.... The
assumption that underlies all law, including international human rights law, is that the public/private distinction is
real: human society, human lives can be separated into two distinct spheres. This division, however, is an ideological
construct rationalizing the exclusion of women from the sources of power. 2 6 The international community must
recognize that violence against women is always political, regardless of where it occurs, because it affects
the way women view themselves and their role in the world, as well as the lives they lead in the socalled public sphere. 2 6 ' When women are silenced within the family, their silence is not restricted to the
private realm, but rather affects their voice in the public realm as well, often assuring their silence in any
environment. 262 For women in the former Yugoslavia, as well as for all women, extension beyond the various public/private barriers is
imperative if human rights law "is to have meaning for women brutalized in less-known theaters of war or in the by-ways of daily life." 63
Because, as currently constructed, human rights laws can reach only individual perpetrators during times of war, one alternative is to
reconsider our understanding of what constitutes "war" and what constitutes "peace. " " When
it is universally true that no
matter where in the world a woman lives or with what culture she identifies, she is at grave risk of being
beaten, imprisoned, enslaved, raped, prostituted, physically tortured, and murdered simply because she
is a woman, the term "peace" does not describe her existence. 2 5 In addition to being persecuted for
being a woman, many women also are persecuted on ethnic, racial, religious, sexual orientation, or
other grounds. Therefore, it is crucial that our re-conceptualization of human rights is not limited to violations based on gender." Rather,
our definitions of "war" and "peace" in the context of all of the world's persecuted groups should be
questioned. Nevertheless, in every culture a common risk factor is being a woman, and to describe the
conditions of our lives as "peace" is to deny the effect of sexual terrorism on all women. 6 7 Because we
are socialized to think of times of "war" as limited to groups of men fighting over physical territory or
land, we do not immediately consider the possibility of "war" outside this narrow definition except in a
metaphorical sense, such as in the expression "the war against poverty." However, the physical violence and sex
discrimination perpetrated against women because we are women is hardly metaphorical. Despite the fact
that its prevalence makes the violence seem natural or inevitable, it is profoundly political in both its purpose and its
effect. Further, its exclusion from international human rights law is no accident, but rather part of a system politically
constructed to exclude and silence women. 2 6 The appropriation of women's sexuality and women's
bodies as representative of men's ownership over women has been central to this "politically
constructed reality. 2 6 9 Women's bodies have become the objects through which dominance and even
ownership are communicated, as well as the objects through which men's honor is attained or taken
away in many cultures. Thus, when a man wants to communicate that he is more powerful than a woman,
he may beat her. When a man wants to communicate that a woman is his to use as he pleases, he may
rape her or prostitute her. The objectification of women is so universal that when one country ruled by
men (Serbia) wants to communicate to another country ruled by men (Bosnia-Herzegovina or Croatia) that it is
superior and more powerful, it rapes, tortures, and prostitutes the "inferior" country's women. 2 71 The
use of the possessive is intentional, for communication among men through the abuse of women is
effective only to the extent that the group of men to whom the message is sent believes they have some
right of possession over the bodies of the women used. Unless they have some claim of right to what is taken, no injury is
experienced. Of course, regardless of whether a group of men sexually terrorizing a group of women is trying to communicate a message to
another group of men, the
universal sexual victimization of women clearly communicates to all women a
message of dominance and ownership over women. As Charlotte Bunch explains, "The physical territory of [the]
political struggle [over female subordination] is women's bodies." 7 2
<<Insert Alt>>
Link – General
Notions of gender undergrid immigration – All policy is shaped by and has gendered
Sinke 07 (Suzanne M. Sinke, received her PhD from the University of Minnesota. Currently she serves
as the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies in the History Department at Florida State University. As a
specialist in migration and gender studies in the U.S. context, she teaches a variety of courses in U.S. and
comparative history. “A Companion to American Immigration” Chapter 13: “Gender and Immigration,”
First published: 26 November 2007, Accessed 7.8.18, ) //ZoL
All cultures recognize gender, a system of meaning based on sexual differences, but the meanings vary substantially
from one society to another and across time , as do the meanings of sexual differences. Gender
intertwines with migration in a variety of ways . On a basic level international migration brings different
gender systems in contact. Immigrants face variations to their own systems of belief and behavior as
they encounter the role ideologies of others: earlier arrivals, other groups, and the dominant society. Moreover, the
dominant group in the United States at various points in time has had to rethink gender ideology in the
face of “foreign” challenges which then became internal ones. Second , gender guides migration patterns.
Differing sex ratios reflect not only labor market segmentation – different job opportunities for men and women – but
also different cultural norms. The demographic imbalances that result often rearrange gender roles, in
some cases by stretching family functions across borders, such as having a wage-earner in one country and
child care in another. Even persons who wish to maintain gender roles may find this difficult if not impossible as disproportionate
numbers of young men or women enter or exit a society, and as mainstream ideals from a homeland clash with cultural currents from the new
location, as, for example, on the issue of dating before marriage.
Finally , gender helps create and sustain hierarchies of
power . In terms of international migration to the United States, policies of family formation and reunification have
been tied not only to shifting patriarchal norms, but also to racial and ethnic standings, reinforced by
colonialism in some cases. People from a particular country or immigrants generally can be portrayed in more
masculine or feminine ways, their gender relations as more or less “natural” by American standards,
which in turn affects reception, treatment, and policy making . Differences undergird and later justify who
can immigrate, who earns more, who can be trusted by authorities, who can move up the social ladder,
who can live in a certain area, who can marry whom. The images of “alien,” “immigrant,” and “migrant”
– from the cartoons of drunken Irish men with simian faces of the mid-nineteenth century, to the theatrical character of the Chinese prostitute
of the late nineteenth century, to the poignant images of European immigrant working women in Progressive-era photography, to the
triumphant Cuban refugee families arriving in south Florida, to videos of men crossing the border from Mexico illegally, to mugshots of male
Middle Eastern immigrant terrorists in the early twenty-first century – all
contribute to a way of thinking about a group of
migrants and to impressions of international migration more generally. Not surprisingly, immigrants themselves have
created competing images, from exemplary military service of men in ethnic regiments in war to separate beauty pageants for Asian American
women (e.g. Chang 1996; Wu 1997). As
a key element of social identity, gender informs individual and familial
decision making, as well as national and international policies. For men, restrictions on migration were sometimes tied to
expected military service (and thus some young men had to emigrate illegally to avoid conscription, whether in Prussia in the early nineteenth
century or in El Salvador in the 1980s). For
women, fear of moral degradation in the form of pregnancy or prostitution has
often steered both families and the US government to limit the migration of single women arriving on
their own. Women have sometimes sought out migration specifically to avoid such proscriptions (e.g.
Puskás 2000). Up until the early twentieth century, married women who migrated on their own leaving husbands behind, even if they were in
good health might face deportation, a practice that did not apply to married men on their own. Policies
requiring “good moral
character” of immigrants made the migration of openly gay men and lesbians difficult (Luibhéid 2002). Even
apparently neutral legislation
had gendered applications, as in determining what constituted
“persecution” to qualify for refugee status, whether one was likely to become a public charge, or if a
person held suspect political views .
The legal immigration system is steeped in Inequalities for women
Nevarez 17 (Griselda Nevarez , is a reporter at Arizona's News Station, “U.S. Immigration Law Treats
Women And Men Differently” Updated Dec 06, 2017, Accessed 7.8.18, ) //ZoL
Gender inequalities seep through immigration law in the U nited S tates, making women go through a
different experience than men when attempting to gain a legal status in the U.S., a new study reveals.
“Immigration law, which on its face appears gender neutral, actually contains gender biases that create
barriers for many women trying to gain legalization within the current immigration system ,” stated the
authors of a study released last week by the Immigration Policy Center. Cecilia Menjivar — a professor at Arizona State University — and Olivia
Salcido — a researcher who studies law, immigration and domestic violence — spent more than a decade researching the experiences of
women and men who go through the legalization process. From 1998 to 2007, they conducted 51 in-depth interviews in Arizona with
immigrants originally from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The findings were surprising. “We found that even
written specifically to protect women, such as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), continued to play out in
practice along gender-biased lines,” Menjivar and Salcido wrote in the study. They also found that the U.S. immigration
system is not designed to recognize immigrant women’s needs and circumstances. Additionally, they found
that immigrant women are often presumed to be “dependents” while men are looked at as the primary
breadwinners, which results in women and men having different experiences when they go through
the legalization process. How gender shapes four avenues for legalization In their study, the authors highlighted how gender
shapes four different avenues through which women seek a legal status in the U.S.: e mployment- b ased visas ,
family reunification, the asylum process and a VAWA visa . When it comes to applying for employmentbased visas, many women, instead of applying as principle visa holders, rely on male relatives to petition for them to
get such visas. This is because women often have domestic jobs, such as cleaning houses that are not considered by U.S. immigration law
as “high demand” jobs — a requirement to obtain an employment-based visa. In addition, more men apply as principal visa
holders when they seek employment-based visas because they have more opportunities than women to
earn college degrees and acquire skills in their native countries. But even when women are highly skilled, they still find it
difficult to gain employment-based visas, the study revealed. Many women also rely on male relatives to
petition for them through the family-based immigration process , which is the primary avenue through which women
gain legal status in the U.S. Women rely on men because they are often seen as “dependents” even when they have
jobs outside the home. Mean while , men are largely viewed as primary breadwinners and heads of
households, making it easier and faster for them to gain legal status through family reunification. Another
option is to seek a visa through political asylum . Here, women struggle to convince decision-makers that certain
political actions and opinions establish a threat in their countries of origin. The authors of the study explained this,
stating that a woman who fears persecution because of her engagement in political activities — activities defined
by her gender, such as providing shelter for guerrillas — may find it more difficult to prove that it’s reasonable to fear
persecution than it is for a male who has also engaged in “male-defined activities,” such as joining a guerrilla
army. Many immigrant women also struggle to prove persecution even when they were politically
and, as a result, targeted with death threats in their native countries. One problem that women run into is not keeping
documents that would prove they went through potential dangers. Such was the case for Sara, an asylum seeker from El Salvador featured in
the study. The request was denied because she and her husband didn’t keep the papers that showed the written death threats sent to them.
But, the study states that even if the couple would have kept the documents, Sara would have still been denied asylum because the threats
were directed at her husband — even though she was also at risk. Lastly,
protection under
women also face obstacles when applying for
the Violence Against Women Act ( VAWA ), which allows immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence to
self-petition or independently seek legal immigration status in the U.S. One
obstacle women face is providing evidence, such
as documents with their name and of the abuser, to prove they live with their abuser. This is a difficult
requirement to meet if a woman’s abuser is the main breadwinner and the bills are all under his name.
Link – Agamben
The state strikes only those who are disadvantaged – The aff failure further locks
women and minorities into bare life whilst preventing all hopes for radical change –
This turns case
Smith 10 (ANNA MARIE SMITH, Professor of Government at Cornell University, is a political theorist, with research interests in the fields
of jurisprudence and normative political theory; distributive justice and socioeconomic rights; public policy; education and poverty assistance;
feminist theory and feminist legal studies; critical race theory; and the rhetoric of modern state power and citizenship, “Neo-eugenics: A
Feminist Critique of Agamben,” December 20, 2010, Accessed 7.6.18, Occasion: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities v. 2 ) //ZoL
Agamben’s ambitious deployment of transhistorical overview is quite suggestive; like Hortense Spillers’s concept
of the American grammar book21 (i.e., Spillers’s diagnosis of the underlying structure of gender and race hierarchies that remains constant in
American culture from the colonial period to the present), his
theory interrupts our complacent assumption that liberal
democratic formations are somehow magically endowed with such a distinct orientation to the law, and
such resilient and self-sustaining capacities, that we need not consider the possibility that they can harbor
antidemocratic moments— such as slavery, imperialism, and eugenics —at their very core, or that they
can descend quite quickly into various forms of absolutism. Agamben and Spillers help us to resist the
lure of progressivism: the myth that the West is always moving forwards in its bid to achieve a just form
of social cooperation. They show us how to grasp the continuities between the various moments of constitutive exclusion in the history
of American identity, whether they involve the strategic production of the indigenous “savage” or that of the slave woman and the welfare
However, Agamben, unlike Spillers, moves at such a distance from historical specificities that he loses sight
of institutionalized gendered dynamics . His objective is not only to thematize Western discourse on a metaphysical level, in the
Derridean sense, but to establish a critical sociopolitical theory that can bring to light the fundamental character of Western governance that
has purportedly endured, like a timeless essence, from Aristotle’s ancient Greece to post-9/11 American government. Like Spillers,
Agamben underlines the fact that biopolitics constructs the national population in a racially essentialist
manner. But he cannot detect the specificity of racial formations; he cannot help us to understand the
ways in which the anti-Semitism of the Nazis resembles, but also deviates from, institutional racism in
contemporary American society. Further, he completely fails to grasp the centrality of gender to the
biopolitical project of producing bare life . For Agamben, the sovereign preserves for itself “the natural
right to do anything to anyone.” 22 As the line between legitimate authority and the right of the
sovereign in a state of exception to protect “the people” by producing bare life is increasingly blurred, we become
unable to identify “any one clear figure of the sacred man.”23 In effect, “we are all virtually homines sacri.” 24 “Bare life
is no longer confined to a particular place or a definite category. It now dwells in the biological body of every living being.”25 The historical
record, however, makes it crystal clear that it is the structurally disempowered who are most vulnerable
to the exercise of arbitrary state power in the state of emergency. Women are placed in especially
constrained positions by the modern State when it devotes itself to population management . In the
context of positive eugenics, the “fittest” women of the racial nation are asked to serve as the wombs of
“the people” through natalist propaganda and policies.
Negative eugenics in turn promotes the exclusion of the “unfit” through selective immigration controls,
sterilization, and the discouragement of child-rearing. Poor women typically bear the brunt of these
policies . In some eugenic contexts, the “unfit” woman is offered partial redemption, but only insofar as she is rendered into a sterile worker,
a prostitute, or a military servant.26 The
practical implications of Agamben’s failure to address the historically
specific and stratified character of the State’s targeting (i.e., the fact that in the midst of an emergency, the
State escalates its already established class, race, ethnic, and gender profiling instead of striking out in
an unpredictable manner ) are sobering. If we convinced ourselves that vulnerability is equally
distributed, we would implicitly reinforce our already excessive tendency toward bourgeois self-regard.27
We would also foreclose all radical attempts to hold the agents who actively participate in the
establishment of eugenics policy , and those who benefit handsomely from its operation, collectively responsible .28 Out
of our bourgeois narcissism, we would refuse to face the Other and to receive the Other’s inscrutable and
yet insistent demand.29 Instead of facing the Other, we would merely fixate on the image of the Other’s
suffering. We would derive compensation for our perceived vulnerability through our consumption of this image; it would become
our fetish. We would congratulate ourselves for having the fortitude to commodify suffering, and we
would act as if we could exhaust our moral obligation by doing so. Thus, we would forget that we had
forgotten the Other and that we were keeping our backs turned against the Other’s face. Fetishism,
however, is not solidarity.
If any person can be rendered into bare life, then we should assume that Agamben’s absolute
sovereign will strike in a random fashion , anywhere and everywhere at once . If absolutism is omnipresent, then
virtually every form of political organizing is doomed to fail. Once again, Agamben’s argument risks the incitement of
bourgeois self-regard and quietistic resignation. Agamben’s sensitization is one-sided—it raises our awareness
of the fact that it is the interests of powerful elites, not charity, that structure poverty programs, but it allows us to avoid the
inconvenient truth: the State remains a terrain of struggle, and it is our moral duty to contribute to the
advance of social justice . Today’s welfare mothers are not strategically positioned in exactly the same way as the Nazis’
concentration camp inmates; nor are they subjected to totalistic domination like the slave woman or Carrie Buck.30 They can, and they do,
engage in political organizing; they have a few—albeit far too few—allies in civil society, Congress, state legislatures, and local governments;
and they are exercising their right to self-determination against very steep odds.3
Alt – Counter–Topology
We affirm the use of counter-topology to form coalitions of solidarity to resist the
state’s influence – rather than inaction the alt is able to provide both material and
non-material aid to people
Mountz 11 (Alison Mountz, is Professor of Geography and Canada Research Chair in Global Migration. She is Director of the
International Migration Research Centre and co-edits a journal called Politics & Space (Environment & Planning C). She is cross-appointed
between the School of International Policy and Governance and the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier
University, “Where asylum-seekers wait: feminist counter-topographies of sites between states” Published online: 19 May 2011, Accessed
7.6.18, ) //ZoL
Counter-topographies: transnational feminisms and social movements as responses to ‘the topological challenge to geography’ Agamben’s
of exceptionality is important to understanding sovereignty and exclusion. The notion of exceptionalism,
however, has been explored largely by political theorists (e.g. Schmitt 1996; Agamben 1998; Cole 2000; Butler 2004), at the expense
of material representations of the sites of exclusion produced by exceptionalism . What happened on Lombok
suggests the limits to universal exceptionalism. Assumptions of homogeneity correspond with the generalized, anti-asylum stance of states stopping all asylumseekers en route. The Indonesian Solution suggests a need for geographical, gendered and empirical analysis in line with the principles of asylum: the right to have
claims heard and contextualized in relation to histories of conflict. Cross-border traffic in information between Indonesia and Australia discussed above offers
counter-topographies that bring displacement, detention and invisibility into relief. These
counter-topographies offer one response to
what Belcher and co-authors (2008) identify as ‘the topological challenge to geography’. These authors (Belcher et al. 2008, 503) ‘propose to
seize the potential of emergence, the potential of topological transformation, to undermine the apparent fixity of current geometries of power’. Rooted in a
politics of location that undergirds transnational social movements, feminist counter-topographies
confront directly the fixity of exclusion by seizing precisely on this potentiality of other topological
processes of transformation. Katharyne Mitchell (2006, 96) reviewed scholarship to address shortcomings of
Agamben’s text. She contends, ‘homo sacer as an undifferentiated, interchangeable (male) figure ... ends
up limiting his argument in profound ways’ . Mitchell associates these limitations with liberal and early Marxist work. By
demonstrating how feminist scholars embody exceptionalism, Mitchell (2006, 97) places exceptional sites in
the context of contemporary neoliberal projects. For her, the very embodiment of ‘homo sacer figures’
provides the essential conceptual link between particular geographical locations and identities in the
neoliberal era (Mitchell 2006, 98). Although Mitchell does not engage transnational feminisms directly, I want to argue here that these scholars also
offer theoretical tools that provide more nuanced analysis of methods and embodied dimensions of
exclusion of the sort that Mitchell reviews. Three collective projects emerge from transnational feminist scholarship
that extend Agamben’s ideas of exclusion: (1) rootedness in a politics of location, (2) cross-border
politics of differentiation and (3) construction of solidarities across borders . If Agamben posits a
politics of dislocation where homo sacer exists simultaneously everywhere and nowhere, transnational
feminisms offer multiple ways forward , beginning with a ‘politics of location’. Their collective projects contextualize and
historicize struggles while seeking alliances and building connections among distinct groups and
movements in distinct locations. Pratt and Hanson (1994), for example, argue for a politics of location, cautioning that we hold ‘geographies of
displacement’ so in vogue metaphorically in tension with ‘geographies of placement’. They suggest, ‘seeing geography as central to the
construction of difference opens avenues for building feminist affinities’ (Pratt and Hanson 1994, 6). Such affinities lie at
the center of Chandra Mohanty’s (2003) cartographies of struggle and solidarity and another seminal text on transnational feminisms wherein Grewal and Kaplan
(1994, 17) ‘compare multiple, overlapping, and discrete oppressions’. These texts cross borders, spanning disparate time frames, regions and political projects, but
all involve feminist politics of placement. Amy Kaplan’s (2005) ‘Where is Guanta´namo?’ also forges a politics of location by historicizing the now iconic colonized,
militarized US base on the island of Cuba. Her historical discussion of imperialism, colonization and militarization of Guanta´namo Bay illuminates contemporary
legal struggles over US imprisonment of ‘foreign enemy combatants’ there. On Guanta´namo, Kaplan locates exceptionalism as a historical project undertaken in
waves of imperial and colonial forces. Equally
important to the politics of location that emerge from feminist texts are
related politics of differentiation. In the work of scholars such as Sanchez (2004), Pratt (2005), Mitchell (2006) and Secor (2007), a more
differentiated application of Agamben’s exceptionalism emerges. By differentiation, I mean the historical, material
circumstances that differentiate the struggles of individuals and groups. In the context of refugee
studies, Hyndman (2000, 154) has advocated a ‘transnational geo-politics of mobility’ materially attentive to money,
power and space to understand why and where refugee camps were built and sustained in particular
locations. These locations provided shelter from persecution, but disallowed arrival in wealthier states of the global North. Pratt
(2005) demonstrates the gendered aspects of abandonment by the state by connecting the struggles of Filipina domestic workers in Vancouver to the equally
hidden plight of women who disappeared from Vancouver’s downtown east side over many years in the hands of a serial killer. In both cases, Canadian authorities
refused to acknowledge the practices that contributed to their abandonment, whether immigration policies or racialized policing in the urban neighborhood with
the lowest income levels in Canada. Sanchez (2004, 864) embarks on another project of differentiation, interrogating
discourses of
displacement to uncover how they ‘tacitly reaffirm’ the primacy granted to territory, property and
citizenship. By tracing historical modes of exclusion of sex workers, she argues that the figure of the prostitute constitutes an ‘excluded exclusion’, in contrast
with homo sacer as ‘included exclusion’. Each scholar offers a feminist counter-topography that locates excluded populations and the states implicated in their
States are not the same, nor are those displaced within and beyond .
Borders are in motion through offshore enforcement practices, perpetually challenging any essentialized
politics of location (Anzaldu´a 1987; hooks 1990). Transnational feminisms document and connect exclusions
nuanced by their geographical context and historicization . An important collective political project of
transnational feminisms is thus to move beyond the universal nature of exceptionalism, an
understanding of power that leaves little room for solidarity, resistance or social movements.
Transnational feminists, in contrast, offer projects of solidarity that name the forces of exceptionalism
and aim to fight them through history, across time and space. Katz’s (2001) counter-topographies offer
important theoretical routes across racialized and gendered colonial terrain. Unlike Agamben’s
topologies of sovereignty that center the exclusion of homo sacer, Katz’s global topography of feminist
containment, disappearance and marginalization.
engagement brings together politics of location and differentiation by connecting the particularities
of marginalization and political struggle in vastly distant and distinct locales . As Katz links central-eastern Sudan to
east Harlem, New York, a feminist counter-topography of asylum-seekers’ journeys connects lives in Australia,
Indonesia and Afghanistan, in distinct fashion. For Katz, these linkages are more abstract; her own embodiment as scholar their primary
connection. For those living and fighting the Indian Ocean Solution, daily connections traverse the friction of distance by utilizing technology: mobile phone, email
message, testimony in cyberspace. The Hazaras’ use of these tools kept national and global publics attuned to their plight as they refused the silencing, isolation and
alienation that state authorities attempted to impose. Like
mapping projects that anti-detention activists have undertaken
in the US and the EU, Afghan detainees and Australian activists collaborated to forge a politics of
location. Displacement had transpired; disappearance would not. Counter-topographies rooted in and
routed through politics of location contend with the historical distinctions among exclusionary
projects and social movements . They link disparate sites, historicizing and mobilizing political struggle
(e.g. Sangtin Writers and Nagar 2006). The counter-topographies in the Afghans’ plight in Indonesia involved women and men working together in Lombok,
Melbourne and Canberra. They
used technology – the internet, the radio, the mobile telephone – to navigate the
political space of possibility and transnational mobility. Perhaps key to understanding exclusion is the balance between its
generalizable aspects, which Agamben masters so tantalizingly and those specificities that differentiate sites, methods and people’s biographies of in-betweenness.
Feminist critical geopoliticians (e.g. Pain and Smith 2008) will map the intimacies and everyday dimensions of
exclusion and the biographies of betweenness where unbearable waits transpire. To return to Khanna’s quote, this
waiting engenders abuse in sites of refuge over time and becomes a crucial question for feminisms. Counter-topographies mapped to
understand asylum will address Khanna’s question by confronting the potential for abusive treatment in
sites of refuge during this wait, calling into accountability those responsible, however distant.
Feminist Counter-topographies are key to sheading light on those in jurisdictional
limbo – Solves the aff
Mountz 11 (Alison Mountz, is Professor of Geography and Canada Research Chair in Global Migration.
She is Director of the International Migration Research Centre and co-edits a journal called Politics &
Space (Environment & Planning C). She is cross-appointed between the School of International Policy
and Governance and the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier
University, “Where asylum-seekers wait: feminist counter-topographies of sites between states”
Published online: 19 May 2011, Accessed 7.6.18, ) //ZoL
This article examines topographies, topologies and counter-topographies of power operating across sites inhabited by
migrants en route between nation-states. In locations such as airports, tunnels, detention centers and
islands, time–space trajectories are altered in myriad ways. For asylum-seekers, these sites are often
associated with waiting, limbo, disruption of life before and after and legal and jurisdictional ambiguity
that inhibits access to rights and protections encoded in domestic and international law. The suspension
of time maps onto corresponding spatial ambiguity theorized often as liminality, zone of exception or threshold between states. Detainees
themselves struggle to understand where they are being detained, by whom and on behalf of which nation-state, often discovering that they have become stateless
during the journey across borders and the refusal to return home. What is more, the geopolitical forces that displace (from home) and dislocate (from desired
destination) make the sites-in-between difficult for activists and refugee lawyers to locate, detainees to escape and researchers to study. This
engages transnational feminisms to understand the intimacies of exclusion and to join social movements
underway globally that bring the politics of location and differentiation to bear on the dislocation experienced
by asylum-seekers trapped between states of migration. In the process, it interrogates the dislocating effects
of Giorgio Agamben’s (1998, 2005) ideas about the state of exception; specifically, it argues that the intimacy of
exclusion requires analytical tools beyond those available in Agamben’s writing. Other geographers have located
these limits to Agamben’s work (e.g. Mitchell 2006; Belcher et al. 2008). Transnational feminisms address some of these silences
and shed light on the struggles of asylum-seekers to access sovereign territory, the gendered and
racialized dimensions of their exclusion and possibilities for transnational engagement and
collaboration across social movements responding to detention. The geographical locations of these struggles reflect the routes
traveled by people on the move and the places where they encounter authorities. Nation-states are key players in shaping human mobility and responding to
displacement. Some refugees are selected by states for resettlement from camps abroad, while others travel great distances to ask for asylum in states that assess
claims on the basis of a well-founded fear of persecution. In
an increasingly securitized global environment, governments
prefer to select refugees from abroad for resettlement and to decrease the number of those who arrive
on sovereign territory of their own accord to make an asylum claim. To inhibit this unscripted movement, governments have
enhanced ‘front end’ enforcement practices to deter potential asylum-seekers from reaching sovereign
territory to make a claim. This deterrence sometimes involves detention on islands. The US, for example, has detained asylum-seekers in
Guanta´namo Bay, Cuba and on Guam and Tinian where their access to asylum is mediated by the friction of distance, isolation and ambiguous jurisdiction. As part
of its Pacific Solution, in operation from 2001 to 2007, Australia invested heavily in enforcement at sea. Under former Prime Minister John Howard, the Australian
government was not sympathetic to asylum-seekers arriving ‘spontaneously’ – in policy parlance – to make a claim. These
‘spontaneous arrivals’
invest their own resources in mobility and are scripted by refugee-receiving states as ‘disorderly’, out of
place (Cresswell 2006), a threat to security. In 2001, Howard reignited a failing campaign for re-election on a xenophobic platform. He announced that no more
people arriving by boat would set foot on Australian soil, essentially barring potential asylum-seekers from landing on sovereign territory to access asylum (Mares
2002). Following Howard’s declaration, Australia’s ‘Pacific Solution’ involved aggressive interception at sea and the towing of boats carrying would-be asylumseekers to islands for offshore detention (Mares 2002; Perera 2002; S. Taylor 2005). As a result of this strategy, hundreds of people still wait in ambiguous
situations, transnationally extending an aggressive detention and deportation regime onshore.1 Although the Pacific Solution officially ended in 2007 when Prime
Minister Kevin Rudd took office, the naval resources dedicated to interception and the practice of offshore detention continued and have indeed been expanded
(Marr 2009). This article dwells on such sites between states, as with Giorgio Agamben’s work on thresholds and camps (1998).2 Agamben posits such places as
central to understanding sovereign power, and his ideas are often utilized in contemporary scholarship on migration to understand liminal zones of exception (e.g.
Gregory 2004; Reid-Henry 2007). Conceptualizing
the intimacies of exclusion, however, requires more precise and
gendered analytical tools than Agamben provides and feminist scholars have made important
advances in this arena (e.g. Sanchez 2004; Pratt 2005; Sudbury 2005; Secor 2007). I thus look to transnational feminist
scholarship to simultaneously revisit, extend and rework Agamben’s ideas through examination of asylum-seekers’
struggles over access to sovereign territory. The analysis engages feminist scholarship in order to
challenge dimensions of Agamben’s zones of exception that leave the universal figure – an
undifferentiated, gender-blind, unspecified body – always paradoxically outside of the state. The work of
geographer Cindi Katz (2001) proves particularly applicable to this project. Katz links local and global forces in East Harlem, New York and a village in central-eastern
Sudan by developing what she calls a ‘counter-topography’. Her feminist counter-topography
maps and challenges colonial,
imperial power relations with which global capitalism is entangled, revealing material disparities
operating across uneven terrain. Here, I engage with Katz’s counter-topography in order to connect events between nation-states to those happening
internally to sovereign territory: namely, displacement, exclusion, journalism and activism. A feminist counter-topography enables
analysis rooted in a politics of location and differentiation that links global and local scales. Here, countertopography offers one response to Agamben’s topological processes by facilitating examination of the
architecture of exclusionary enforcement that captures bodies in trajectories between states: holding people in
an open detention facility on an island, where they are suspended in time and space, neither returned home nor allowed to reach their destination. While
Agamben’s topologies are about emergent processes (Belcher et al. 2008), counter-topographies focus on the
material expressions of those processes : here, the fixation of mobile people in limbo through exclusionary processes. Neither here
nor there, sites in between signal movement and stagnation, transgression and disruption and
ambiguous forms of belonging that map onto partial forms of citizenship and statelessness (Kerber 2005).
Migrants wait here, but they also organize, network, speak out and use technology to garner attention and collaborate with activists on mainland territory. This
article connects the folds between states: the thresholds where asylum-seekers move between points of departure – usually from the global South – and the hope
of arrival, usually in states of the global North. By
engaging transnational social movements that emerge from exceptional
spaces, it sheds light on struggles in places of limbo where people – like the sites that they inhabit – are
neither precisely ‘here’ nor ‘there’.
Alt – The Killjoy
Vote negative to affirm the figure of the killjoy. Using the negative positionality of the
Feminist Killjoy stands in the way the male-centric perceptions of happiness. We must
rage against sustained signs of patriarchy even if it means laying our bodies on the
Ahmed in 10 Sara Ahmed. “Feminist Killjoys (And Other Willful Subjects). The Barnard Center for
Research on Women – the Scholar and Feminist Online. Issue 8.3. Summer 2010.
To be unseated by the table of happiness might be to threaten not simply that table, but what gathers
around it, what gathers on it. When you are unseated, you can even get in the way of those who are
seated, those who want more than anything to keep their seats. To threaten the loss of the seat can be
to kill the joy of the seated. How well we recognise the figure of the feminist killjoy! How she makes sense! Let's take the
figure of the feminist killjoy seriously. One feminist project could be to give the killjoy back her voice.
Whilst hearing feminists as killjoys might be a form of dismissal, there is an agency that this dismissal
rather ironically reveals. We can respond to the accusation with a "yes." The figure of the feminist killjoy
makes sense if we place her in the context of feminist critiques of happiness, of how happiness is used
to justify social norms as social goods (a social good is what causes happiness, given happiness is understood as what is good). As
Simone de Beauvoir described so astutely "it is always easy to describe as happy a situation in which one wishes to
place [others]."[4] Not to agree to stay in the place of this wish might be to refuse the happiness that is
wished for. To be involved in political activism is thus to be involved in a struggle against happiness.
Even if we are struggling for different things, even if we have different worlds we want to create, we
might share what we come up against. Our activist archives are thus unhappy archives. Just think of the labor of critique that is
behind us: feminist critiques of the figure of "the happy housewife;" Black critiques of the myth of "the happy slave"; queer critiques of the
sentimentalisation of heterosexuality as "domestic bliss." The struggle over happiness provides the horizon in which political claims are made.
We inherit this horizon.
To be willing to go against a social order, which is protected as a moral order, a
happiness order is to be willing to cause unhappiness, even if unhappiness is not your cause. To be
willing to cause unhappiness might be about how we live an individual life (not to choose "the right
path" is readable as giving up the happiness that is presumed to follow that path). Parental responses to coming
out, for example, can take the explicit form not of being unhappy about the child being queer but of being unhappy about the child being
unhappy.[5] Even
if you do not want to cause the unhappiness of those you love, a queer life can mean
living with that unhappiness. To be willing to cause unhappiness can also be how we immerse ourselves
in collective struggle, as we work with and through others who share our points of alienation. Those
who are unseated by the tables of happiness can find each other.So, yes, let's take the figure of the feminist killjoy
seriously. Does the feminist kill other people's joy by pointing out moments of sexism? Or does she expose
the bad feelings that get hidden, displaced, or negated under public signs of joy? Does bad feeling enter the
room when somebody expresses anger about things, or could anger be the moment when the bad feelings that circulate through objects get
brought to the surface in a certain way? The
feminist subject "in the room" hence "brings others down" not only by
talking about unhappy topics such as sexism but by exposing how happiness is sustained by erasing the
signs of not getting along. Feminists do kill joy in a certain sense: they disturb the very fantasy that
happiness can be found in certain places. To kill a fantasy can still kill a feeling. It is not just that
feminists might not be happily affected by what is supposed to cause happiness, but our failure to be
happy is read as sabotaging the happiness of others.We can consider the relationship between the
negativity of the figure of the feminist killjoy and how certain bodies are "encountered" as being
negative. Marilyn Frye argues that oppression involves the requirement that you show signs of being happy
with the situation in which you find yourself. As she puts it, "it is often a requirement upon oppressed
people that we smile and be cheerful. If we comply, we signify our docility and our acquiescence in our
situation." To be oppressed requires that you show signs of happiness, as signs of being or having been
adjusted. For Frye "anything but the sunniest countenance exposes us to being perceived as mean,
bitter, angry or dangerous".[6] To be recognized as a feminist is to be assigned to a difficult category and
a category of difficulty. You are "already read" as "not easy to get along with" when you name yourself
as a feminist. You have to show that you are not difficult through displaying signs of good will and
happiness. Frye alludes to such experiences when she describes how: "this means, at the very least, that we
may be found to be "difficult" or unpleasant to work with, which is enough to cost one's livelihood."[7]
We can also witness an investment in feminist unhappiness (the myth that feminists kill joy because
they are joy-less). There is a desire to believe that womynbecome feminists because they are unhappy.
This desire functions as a defense of happiness against feminist critique. This is not to say that feminists
might not be unhappy; becoming a feminist might mean becoming aware of just how much there is to
be unhappy about. Feminist consciousness could be understood as consciousness of unhappiness, a
consciousness made possible by the refusal to turn away. My point here would be that feminists are read as
being unhappy, such that situations of conflict, violence, and power are read as about the unhappiness
of feminists, rather than being what feminists are unhappy about.Political struggles can takes place
over the causes of unhappiness. We need to give a history to unhappiness. We need to hear in
unhappiness more than the negation of the "un." The history of the word "unhappy" might teach us about the unhappiness
of the history of happiness. In its earliest uses, unhappy meant to cause misfortunate or trouble. Only later, did it come to mean to feel
misfortunate, in the sense of wretched or sad. We
can learn from the swiftness of translation from causing
unhappiness to being described as unhappy. We must learn.The word "wretched" has its own
genealogy, coming from wretch, meaning a stranger, exile, banished person. Wretched in the sense of "vile,
despicable person" was developed in Old English and is said to reflect "the sorry state of the outcast." Can we rewrite the history of happiness
from the point of view of the wretch? If we listen to those who are cast as wretched, perhaps their wretchedness would no longer belong to
them. The sorrow of the stranger might give us a different angle on happiness not because it teaches us what it is like or must be like to be a
stranger, but because it might estrange us from the very happiness of the familiar.Phenomenology helps us explore how the familiar is that
which is not revealed. A queer phenomenology shows how the familiar is not revealed to those who can inhabit it. For queers and other others
the familiar is revealed to you, because you do not inhabit it. To
be "estranged from" can be what enables a
"consciousness of." This is why being a killjoy can be a knowledge project, a world-making project.
Violence against womxn in debate is always hidden. Thus, the figure of the killjoy is
uniquely good in debate.
Bjork 92 (Rebecca, debater and university coach, “Symposium: Women in Debate: Reflections on the
Ongoing Struggle”, Effluents and affluence: The Global Pollution Debate, 1992”)
While reflecting on my experiences as a womynin academic debate in preparation for this essay, I realized that I have been involved in debate
for more than half of my life. I debated for four years in high school, for four years in college, and I have been coaching intercollegiate debate
for nine years. Not surprisingly, much of my identity as an individual has been shaped by these experiences in debate. I am a person who
strongly believes that debate empowers people to be committed and involved individuals in the communities in which they live. I am a person
who thrives on the intellectual stimulation involved in teaching and traveling with the brightest students on my campus. I am a person who
looks forward to the opportunities for active engagement of ideas with debaters and coaches from around the country. I am also, however, a
college professor, a "feminist," and a peace activist who is increasingly frustrated and disturbed by some of the practices I see being
perpetuated and rewarded in academic debate. I find that I can no longer separate my involvement in debate from the rest of who I am as an
individual.Northwestern I remember listening to a lecture a few years ago given by Tom Goodnight at the University summer debate camp.
Goodnight lamented what he saw as the debate community's participation in, and unthinking perpetuation of what he termed the "death
culture." He argued that the
embracing of "big impact" arguments--nuclear war, environmental destruction,
genocide, famine, and the like-by debaters and coaches signals a morbid and detached fascination
with such events, one that views these real humyntragedies as part of a "game" in which so-called
"objective and neutral" advocates actively seek to find in their research the "impact to outweigh all
other impacts"--the round-winning argument that will carry them to their goal of winning tournament X, Y, or Z. He concluded that our
"use" of such events in this way is tantamount to a celebration of them; our detached, rational
discussions reinforce a detached, rational viewpoint, when emotional and moral outrage may be a
more appropriate response . In the last few years, my academic research has led me to be persuaded by Goodnight's unspoken
assumption; language is not merely some transparent tool used to transmit information, but rather is an incredibly
powerful medium, the use of which inevitably has real political and material consequences. Given this
assumption, I believe that it is important for us to examine the "discourse of debate practice:" that is, the
language, discourses, and meanings that we, as a community of debaters and coaches, unthinkingly employ in academic debate. If it is the
case that the language we use has real implications for how we view the world, how we view others, and
how we act in the world, then it is imperative that we critically examine our own discourse practices with an eye
to how our language does violence to others. I am shocked and surprised when I hear myself saying
things like, "we killed them," or "take no prisoners," or "let's blow them out of the water." I am tired
of the "ideal" debater being defined as one who has mastered the art of verbal assault to the point where
accusing opponents of lying, cheating, or being deliberately misleading is a sign of strength. But what I
am most tired of is how womyndebaters are marginalized and rendered voiceless in such a discourse
community. Womynwho verbally assault their opponents are labeled "bitches" because it is not
socially acceptable for womynto be verbally aggressive. Womynwho get angry and storm out of a room when a
disappointing decision is rendered are labeled "hysterical" because, as we all know, womynare more emotional
then men. I am tired of hearing comments like, "those 'girls' from school X aren't really interested in
debate; they just want to meet men." We can all point to examples (although only a few) of
womynwho have succeeded at the top levels of debate. But I find myself wondering how many more
womyngave up because they were tired of negotiating the mine field of discrimination, sexual
harassment, and isolation they found in the debate community. As members of this community,
however, we have great freedom to define it in whatever ways we see fit. After all, what is debate except a
collection of shared understandings and explicit or implicit rules for interaction? What I am calling for is
a critical examination of how we, as individual members of this community, characterize our activity,
ourselves, and our interactions with others through language. We must become aware of the ways in
which our mostly hidden and unspoken assumptions about what "good" debate is function to exclude not
only women, but ethnic minorities from the amazing intellectual opportunities that training in debate
provides. Our nation and indeed, our planet, faces incredibly difficult challenges in the years ahead. I believe that it is not acceptable
anymore for us to go along as we always have, assuming that things will straighten themselves out. If the rioting in Los Angeles taught us
anything, it is that complacency breeds resentment and frustration.
We may not be able to change the world, but we can
change our own community, and if we fail to do so, we give up the only real power that we have.
2NC – FW – Counter Affect
Subject formation must come first – We need to focus on the past with attention to
the future to create affect that forms coalitional politics, driving political action
*Solves agamben
Chamberlain 16 (Prudence Chamberlain, Part of the Department of English at Royal Holloway
University, “Affective temporality: towards a fourth wave, Gender and Education,” Published online: 13
Apr 2016, Accessed 7.11.18, DOI: 10.1080/09540253.2016.1169249 ) //ZoL
This form of timekeeping has resonances with Giorgio Agamben’s ‘contemporary’, which he understands as
Those who are truly contemporary, who truly belong to their time, are those who neither perfectly coincide with it nor adjust themselves to its demands. They are thus in this sense irre- levant [inattuale].
But precisely because of this condition, precisely through this disconnection and this anachronism, they are more
capable than others of perceiving and grasping their own time. (2009, 40)
a political move- ment can also be contemporary .
Feminism’s focus on the past is anachronistic in a sense, while an emphasis on futurity forces a
disconnection with our own time. Although femin- ism responds with the demands of the present, it actually adjusts itself in
Agamben is referring specifically to a subject, while I am suggesting that
relation to a hoped-for future. It is important to note that ‘perceiving’ and ‘grasping’ a time does not necessarily mean that activism can be fully
understood within the moment of action. In Feeling Backward, Heather Love writes that ‘we can understand and respond to a historical
moment that is not yet fully articulated in institutions as the dominant mode of exist- ence’ (2007, 12). The contemporary, it could be claimed,
is a term that expresses this problematic of feminist activism; the present is difficult to theorise. In spite of this, focus on the past, with
attention to the future, allows for contemporary affective acti- vism to develop. This discussion of the contemporary and feminist
timekeeping serves as a framing device for the way in which the wave narrative can be considered as an
‘affective temporality’. Social movements are bound to emotional convergences , in which feeling
becomes trans- ferred amongst wider groups , encouraging them to action. This is central to initiating
sustaining surges of feminist activism , drawing a number of subjects together through shared investment within a
specific historical moment. The formulations of affect also mirror the way in which the contemporary is
constructed through Agamben’s work, allowing for activists to cohere while still remaining without set
definition. In The Affect Theory Reader, Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth state that ‘affect is born in in-between-ness and resides in
accumulative besides-ness’ (2010, 2). This sense of ‘beside- ness’ mirrors the simultaneity of the contemporary, while the ‘between-ness’
relates to the idea that feminism is caught in temporal tension, in which the past dictates and future aspirations orientate. Affect also explores
the relationship between the private and the public, as Love out- lines when she writes:
Politics and feelings are very different kinds of things; the public sphere is big, feelings are small; social life happens out there,
psychic life, somewhere inside; public time is collective time, measured by the clock, whereas in psychic life the trains hardly ever
run on time. (2007, 11)
Inevitably, it is challenging to map what is ostensibly a more personal and feeling sphere onto a wider public, or indeed vice versa. However,
despite the difference between public and personal, affect creates an undeniable relationship between the two. The
feminist tenet
that the ‘personal is political’ encourages a shared public intimacy, which is central to the transference
and perpetuation of affect . Airing feeling, and allowing feeling to be aired, creates a context in which
responses and emotions become integral to a political collective. Cvetkovich writes that she views ‘affect as a
motivational system and as the ground for forging new collectivities’ (2003, 12). Resonating with the formulation of waves affects may
serve to catalyse and sustain a surge of related activity. If feminist unity is no longer pre- dicated on
identity, then common ground is found through political aims . The movement away from collectives determined by
shared characteristics to those formed through shared feeling creates a feminism that is able to adapt and evolve with affect at its centre.
Affect may in fact work as an adhesive for political subjects, sticking them together through shared feeling
(Ahmed 2010). Affect, then, is able to form collectives that are driven to political action through feeling,
forming a cohesive series of relations and connections.
2NC – FW – Debate is Sexist
There is a double standard for men and women in the debate space
Terkel 11 (Amanda Terkel is the Washington Bureau Chief at HuffPost. Previously, Amanda served as
Deputy Research Director at the Center for American Progress and the Managing Editor of “Not Just Hillary: Young Women In Debate Face Sexism, Double Standards,”
Published 09/26/2016, Accessed 7.8.18, ) //ZoL
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. ― Throughout the campaign season, Hillary Clinton has faced criticism that she’s
too angry. Doesn’t smile
enough. Needs to stop shouting. For women on the debate team at Hofstra University, where Clinton and Donald Trump will take
the stage Monday night for the first presidential debate, these are complaints they’re all too familiar with. “I’ve been
called every nice word and every word in the book,” said Dr. Tomeka Robinson, who directs Hofstra’s Speech and
Debate team and has been in the debate world for 16 years. “Male competitors can be a little bit more aggressive and it’s
just seen as being as assertive, whereas with women, we sometimes get the ‘B’ term used with us.”
“During interpretation events where we choose different pieces of literature to argue a point ― like sometimes the women are viewed
as more emotional in their approach while the men are viewed as more argumentative in their
approach,” added Christina Mary Joseph, an undergraduate student who is in her second year of debate. Americans aren’t used
to seeing women on debate stages . Clinton, after all, is the first female presidential nominee from a major party ― making
Monday night’s debate historic. Trump has already tried to sow doubts about her by repeatedly telling voters that she doesn’t look
“presidential.” This sort of slap in the face isn’t just affecting actual presidential candidates. Anna Waters, a junior at Northwestern who has
years of debate experience, wrote in the Washington Post recently about a 16-year-old female debater who was told she didn’t look
“presidential” enough after a competition. From her piece: The female high
school debaters I know have been belittled by
male opponents and told to shush. Judges and parents call these young women naggy, shrill and even
bitchy . They’re told to smile more and sometimes get more in-depth criticism of their hem length than
their argumentation. Isabelle Bavis, a junior at Evanston Township High School in Illinois, who has been called “screechy” on ballots,
puts it simply: “The language they use to correct us is not the same language used when correcting the
boys.” Jeff Hannan, a fellow debate coach, noticed this, too, and began collecting ballots that showed sexist double standards in judging. In
one case, two male competitors had debated two female ones. The judge’s comments for the men: “Very good, strong
stance” and “very good, strong, forceful.” For the women? “ Monitor your emotions in response to your
opponent” and “make sure you are not too overly aggressive .” Robinson said Monday that there is often a
dress code for women during debates, with judges preferring skirts, pantyhose and heels. “We’re often
not only looked at as more aggressive if we’re speaking a certain way,” said Rachel Garnett, a graduate student at
Hofstra who is assistant coach of the debate team, “but we’re also judged off the way we look, which our male
competitors aren’t as much, or at all really.”
Debate is a double edged sword that cuts at women and gender minorities in debate
Kaufman 16 (Ava Kaufman, is a young journalist whose passions include intersectional feminism,
debate and Law and Order SVU. “Fairness in High School Forensics Under Debate,” Published October 3,
2016, Accessed 7.9.18, ) //ZoL
High school forensics, better known as “speech and debate,” has been a gender-stratified activity from
its conception in 1925 . The elimination of separate “Boys’ Extemporaneous Speaking” and “Girls’
Extemporaneous Speaking” in 1984 is evidence many coaches and students use to argue that separatism
and sexism is still very much alive in the community. In 1985, policy debaters at the National Debate
Tournament, sponsored by the American Forensic Association
with the Ford Motor Company Fund,
were 75
percent male and 25 percent female and the numbers had made little progress towards equality as
late as 2001 . Debate’s gender breakdown is difficult to ascertain now, because a representative for the National Speech and Debate
Association told Teen Voices that the gender of competitors is not collected at tournament registration, which is the case for the majority of the
national circuit. Any observation on gender distribution would be a guesstimate. “Female
competitors are on either end of a
double-edged sword” Savon Ayodeji, director of debate at Capitol Debate, a for-profit organization that administers academic camps
and provides debate support to metropolitan areas globally, said. “We, as a society, have created certain norms such as
what types of voices, styles, and mannerisms, that we think embody persuasiveness. Unfortunately, this
‘ideal debater’ image tends to be the opposite of a large amount of perceived female qualities like
higher voices and potentially less aggression. [Female participants] debate the way they are comfortable
and are told you aren’t ‘aggressive’ enough or they try to identify with those norms and are told they
are ‘too aggressive.’” To account for the struggles of young women in the activity, Ayodeji notes actions the organization takes to
maintain a gender balance in the activity. “Capitol Debate makes a point of hiring strong female lead staff so that female students who attend
our camps have a female role model to look up and talk to about the debate community and being a participant in it.” It seems these actions
discrimination also manifests in sexuality and gender identity becoming fodder for judges’ criticism .
have a positive outcome, as he says Capitol has hosted camps where female students outnumber their male counterparts.
One young individual, a junior varsity debater in college who grew up in Kansas and prefers they/them pronouns, shared the discrimination
they faced because of their queer identity and beliefs. “I
have been called a dyke, voted down because I was ‘too
passionate about feminism,’ and told that my narrative about my past was ‘made up and whiny.’” They
said. “ We must integrate womxn and minorities into the judging pool, and change our attitude towards
others . It is not fair that judges resent judging me from the start.”
Debate is misogynistic – It needs feminist intervention to spark change, create role
models and to break stereotypes – inserting ourselves into the debate space is good
Norton 14 (Michael Norton, is the Editor-in-Chief of Champion Briefs’ Public Forum Division, shaping
the resources used by thousands of Public Forum students across the country, “The Necessity of
Feminism in Speech and Debate,” Published February 25, 2014, Accessed 7.9.18, ) //ZoL
*** This card is about Public Forum, but: 1. It concludes that the whole speech and debate community
should change, 2. The warrants are pretty good and definitely still true, and 3. If you’re reading this and
your first thought is “HAHAHA THIS DOESN’T APPLY TO POLICY DEBATE,” you SHOULD lose to this card
Part of what
makes High School Debate so popular among the country's greatest orators is the
competitive nature. Debate's academic meritocracy appeals to students with drive, pushing them to develop not only as debaters, but as
well-balanced young scholars. However, as is true in many academic circles (philosophy, STEM, business, etc.), the supposed
'academic meritocracy' is predicated on an uneven playing field. Take, for example, the representation of
women at the 2013 Tournament of Champions, considered by many to be the pinnacle of Public Forum Debate:
Breaking Female Debaters - 5/40
Breaking All-Female Teams - 0/20
Female Speakers in Top 20 - 0/20
Female Judges in Outrounds ~ 30%
Female Judges in Quarters or beyond ~ 15%
Clearly, something is wrong
in Public Forum Debate. I say 'in Public Forum Debate' because this paper is not trying to assign blame;
merely to elucidate how we are all part of a system, regardless of intent, that disadvantages women: the patriarchy. Therefore, to compensate,
the community we foster should adequately integrate, celebrate, and represent anybody, yet we
systematically undervalue women in our activity. Thus, the Debate community must reevaluate how its
culture impacts the participation, success, and enfranchisement of women as debaters, volunteers,
and educators.
'Males are adhering to sex-role stereotypes and sex-role expectations when they participate in debate
because it is perceived as a 'masculine' activity. Female debate participants experience more genderrelated barriers because they are not adhering to sex-role stereotypes and sex-role expectations . In
short, 'nice girls' do not compete against or with men, are not assertive, and are not expected to engage
in policy discourse, particularly relating to military issues. Rather, 'nice girls' should be cheerleaders, join foreign language clubs, or
perhaps participate in student government.' – Holly Jane Raider and J. Cinder Griffin.
There are countless reasons why women are discouraged from competing in debate. First , there is an
expectation that young women are somehow more inclined towards other forensic events that are
'more suitable for girls,' like storytelling or poetry (because supposedly debate is 'a boys activity'). Much like the stigma against women
in mathematics and science, debate is often portrayed as an option that is more 'masculine,' tracking women
into other, more 'feminine' events. Second , there is a lack of female role models for young women. While
some female competitors have shattered glass ceilings in debate, and serve as excellent role models for women, the aforementioned data
paints a depressing picture: young women have disproportionately fewer female role models than men. Even the
trophies used at
many debate tournaments depict male orators. This lack of role models exacerbates the decline in
participation; young women who join debate are also far more susceptible to attrition when they don't
have role models to emulate because they can't identify with the activity. The result is a vicious cycle
where women continue to choose other activities or leave debate; making the community one where women are even
less comfortable, exacerbating the underlying inequalities .
'Thus, in some situations performance failure is linked to performance pressure, and not the objective validity of the female
debater's inabilities. This performance pressure does not require the explicit low expectations of the dominant group, but results as
a consequence of simply being unique.' - Holly Jane Raider and J. Cinder Griffin.
Across all divisions, the
women who do end up participating in debate are also at a performance disadvantage
for a number of reasons. First , young women are perceived as having less authority by many judges,
leading them to 'not buy' their argumentation. This issue is particularly problematic when the topic at hand is one with a
masculine connotation, like the military. Second , judges often dock speaker points from women for their speaking
tone, claiming it's less persuasive. The idea that higher pitched, 'shrill' female voices are inherently less
persuasive than lower pitched, 'powerful' male voices, is something we're socialized to believe. Third ,
partnerships comprised of two young women are oftentimes shrugged off, as many believe female
debaters need a male counterbalance. While this counterbalance is oftentimes reactionary to the discrimination of others, some
choose to pair female debaters with male debaters because young women supposedly can't handle the rigor of debate without a calming male
presence. When
women debate together, therefore, many attribute their faults to the lack of a masculine
authority to 'ground the issues.' Finally , because there are so few role models, female debaters are tokenized,
creating performance pressure, where they feel uncomfortable due to mounting pressure, creating a
self-fulfilling prophecy. Thus, while some young women have defied the structural disadvantages, the
activity still has a ways to go, given that the women who do stick around face unique barriers at virtually
every tournament, and for many young women, in virtually every round.
'At its core,
this kind of overt sexism makes young debaters uncomfortable . It is offensive and
intolerable. Contrary to popular opinion, women do not find it funny . By the time many
females have ended their debating careers offensive language has become such a part of their
daily existence that they may laugh about it. One will never know how many women are intimidated and offended
to such a degree that they leave the activity before they develop the self-confidence and level of success necessary to overcome the
inherent gender bias against them, a bias contributed to by the 'old boy' tactics of the members of the community.' - Holly Jane
Raider and J. Cinder Griffin.
The culture of debate defames women , denying them both security and comfort within the community
in several ways. First , as a platform for criticism regarding persuasion, debate opens up young women not only to helpful
criticism, but also overt sexism. Female debaters disproportionately receive comments on their clothing,
mannerisms, and even their appearance during a debate, while the commentary for male debaters seldom touches these
issues. Second , the community has adapted certain phraseologies that can make women, and often men
as well, uncomfortable. Using sexual assault as a synonym for a dominant debate round is never acceptable, yet its usage continues.
While we can shrug it off as 'teenage boys being teenage boys,' this sort of discourse cannot be tolerated
regardless of whether the user realized its implications . Therefore, Public Forum Debate must not only
address the issues regarding how the activity itself affects young women, but also how the culture
surrounding the activity impacts the participants.
For the Speech and Debate Community to continue to advance in the right direction, it needs to
change . Change needn't be radical, but for change to come, supporters must be vocal and unapologetic; Speech and
Debate needs feminism and it needs it now to encourage young women to participate, succeed, and
represent themselves within a valuable community . Educators and participants must always be aware of these
we all act as leaders and allies, spreading the message
whenever possible, the community we know and love can become far more accepting as a home for
both male and female students.
inequalities. Identifying the problem is just the first step. If
2NC – AT: Social Movements Impossible Under the State
Agamben’s theorizing is ONLY the totalizing force that prevents social movements
Robinson 11 (Andrew Robinson, is a political theorist and activist based in the UK, “Giorgio Agamben:
destroying sovereignty,” Posted January 21, 2011, Accessed 7.8.18, ) //ZoL
Agamben’s approach to politics is thoroughgoing in its cleaning-out of statist ways of thinking, and hence has much to offer.
It does tend, however, to be rather all-or-nothing . Agamben’s approach makes it very hard to make
distinctions between better and worse kinds of states, between greater and lesser degrees of
recognition of civil liberties. It makes it hard to think about creating resilience in social movements in
the period before the state is destroyed . Perhaps more thought needs to be given to the exact conditions
in which states can be forced not to declare exceptions, or in which states of exception can be
contingently defeated (from the El Alto ‘gas war’ to the Woomera protests). The state seeks to impose a logic of sovereignty, but this
logic is often contested by other social forces. While the elimination of sovereignty may well be the only way to
destroy the conditions for future genocides, social movements which do not yet have the power to
shatter the state can nevertheless undermine it, rendering its power increasingly limited, partial and