Politics & Political Theory

Beyond The Agamben Paradigm: The Spatial Logics Of Exceptionalism

This article considers how notions of space shape Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer series and its thesis of sovereign violence. To do so, it examines the paradigm as Agamben’s principal methodological tool and theoretical frame. It critically engages Agamben’s paradigmatic configurations—such as the sovereign, homo sacer, and state of exception—not as reified figures but embodiments of particular spatial logics that are animated by Agamben’s broader metaphysical project. First, the article explores how Agamben’s delineation of the paradigm as method reproduces the definition of sovereign violence established in his thesis. Second, it considers how Agamben’s use of his principal paradigmatic formation, the state of exception, breaks with the work of Carl Schmitt, from which he draws the concept, to frame politics as necessarily violent fracture. Finally, the article interrogates how the spatial logics underpinning Agamben’s paradigmatic exceptionalism produce a dyad of interior and exterior enclosure that operates as a pervasive, yet nevertheless fractured, authoritarian force. In doing so, it draws attention to an essential yet overlooked component of Agamben’s thesis—the use of paradigmatic exceptionalism as mutually constitutive method and theory—while advocating theory and text as sites of investigation ripe for political geographers.

more articles from

Volume 37 Issue 6