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State of Exception

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State of Exception Cover

ISBN13: 9780226009254
ISBN10: 0226009254
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Two months after the attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration, in the midst of what it perceived to be a state of emergency, authorized the indefinite detention of noncitizens suspected of terrorist activities and their subsequent trials by a military commission. Here, distinguished Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben uses such circumstances to argue that this unusual extension of power, or "state of exception," has historically been an underexamined and powerful strategy that has the potential to transform democracies into totalitarian states.

The sequel to Agamben's Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, State of Exception is the first book to theorize the state of exception in historical and philosophical context. In Agamben's view, the majority of legal scholars and policymakers in Europe as well as the United States have wrongly rejected the necessity of such a theory, claiming instead that the state of exception is a pragmatic question. Agamben argues here that the state of exception, which was meant to be a provisional measure, became in the course of the twentieth century a working paradigm of government. Writing nothing less than the history of the state of exception in its various national contexts throughout Western Europe and the United States, Agamben uses the work of Carl Schmitt as a foil for his reflections as well as that of Derrida, Benjamin, and Arendt.

Synopsis:

Distinguished Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben examines the unusual extensions of executive power seized during states of emergency, a historically underexamined and powerful strategy that has the potential to transform democracies into totalitarian states.

About the Author

Giorgio Agamben is professor of aesthetics at the University of Verona. He is the author of ten previous books, including the prequel to this one, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Kevin Attell is a writer and translator living in Berkeley, California. He is the translator of Agamben's The Open: Man and Animal.

Table of Contents

Translator's Note

1. The State of Exception as a Paradigm of Government

2. Force-of-Law

3. Iustitium

4. Gigantomachy Concerning a Void

5. Feast, Mourning, Anomie

6. Auctoritas and Potestas

References

Index

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Andrew, February 28, 2007 (view all comments by Andrew)
A difficult book, Giorgio Agamben's "State of Exception" is nonetheless a book that every American should read. In clear and precise prose, Agamben dissects the current "state of exception (or emergency)" that holds sway over not only the United States, but every Western "democracy." Exploring both the juridical status of the emergency clause in the constitutions of the Western nations, and outlining the history of its use since the 1930's, Agamben argues that the state of exception is now, in fact, the norm in law and government.

While couched in some difficult philosophical concepts - he presumes the reader has some knowledge of Michel Foucault, Martin Heidegger, and Walter Benjamin, among others - this is Agamben's most lucid and accessible book. He applies some of the themes raised in previous volumes - "Homo Sacer", for example - to our current situation. The portrait he paints of the normalization of emergency rule should give every citizen pause. For if we accept Agamben's judgments, the situation at Guantanamo Bay, and the promulgation of statutes like the USA PATRIOT Act, and the British Anti-Terror legislation, begin to look not like anomalies or temporary emergency measures, but the next logical development in state power, a power which is increasingly pushing past democracy and into a generalized bureaucratic tyranny. Absolutely vital.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780226009254
Translator:
Attell, Kevin
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Translator:
Attell, Kevin
Author:
Agamben, Giorgio
Author:
Attell, Kevin
Subject:
Political
Subject:
History
Subject:
Europe
Subject:
History & Theory - General
Subject:
General Philosophy
Subject:
War and emergency powers
Subject:
War and emergency powers -- United States.
Subject:
Politics - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
1
Publication Date:
20050131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
Language:
English
Pages:
104
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.5 in

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» History and Social Science » Politics » General
» Humanities » Philosophy » General

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Product details 104 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226009254 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Distinguished Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben examines the unusual extensions of executive power seized during states of emergency, a historically underexamined and powerful strategy that has the potential to transform democracies into totalitarian states.

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