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Title: Form of life : Agamben and the biopolitical dimension of sovereignty and law
Author: Fusco, Gian Giacomo
ISNI:       0000 0004 7228 1710
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2017
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Giorgio Agamben's work is a constant presence in the current critical debate over sovereign power, law and politics. With the more than two decades long series Homo sacer, he has traversed the borders of academic disciplines, providing renewed sources of inquiry for the orientation before the contemporary widespread and violent biopolitical-economic administration of life. This research project investigates some of the central themes of the critical account of legal and political thought that Agamben has offered in his works. The eight chapters composing this thesis are conceived as specific theoretical paths through Agamben's oeuvre, which in their autonomy and mutual interaction aim at offering a, hopefully, meaningful contribution to the field of continental legal philosophy. In this work, I argue that Agamben's Homo sacer project provides a fundamental theoretical framework for the comprehension of the role and functions of law and sovereign power in biopolitical regimes. The central thesis that this project advances is that Agamben's interrogation of juridical and political thought and of ontology uncover a missing link in the problematic separation of sovereignty and law from governmental practices that the discourse on biopolitics has inadvertently inherited from Foucault's work. Agamben succeeds in doing this in two main ways: first, he redefined the contours of the theory of sovereignty in relation to biopolitics (shading light over the tight bond that ties together sovereign power, life and governmental practices); second, with the idea of "form of life" he has disclosed a biopolitical interpretation of law, providing, also, the ground for an innovative theory of the subject. This work, thus, is structured in two parts. The first part has been organised around Agamben's engagement with the question of sovereign power. Rather than focusing on the problems of the state of exception or the camp - given that the critical literature on such topics is more than abundant - I proceed with the analysis of sovereignty, as a "normalising power", in its relation to life and the idea of government. The second part of the thesis, instead, has been devoted to the disentanglement of the concept of the "form of life". A form of life is a life that has been put-in-form, actualised in a given (legal or social) institution, and trapped under the yoke of sovereign power. While the tone and the plane of analysis of the two parts could be sometimes divergent, they intersect on a central point: sovereignty as the power to establish the criteria of normality of the political community, to decide on the forms of life that are "inside or outside" the legal and political order. Sovereignty, in this regard, lays down, from time to time, the limits of the social and political life of the state, and in doing so, decide which forms of "life" are a part of it (and thus worthy of protection), and which are excluded.
Supervisor: Zartaloudis, Thanos ; Parsley, Connal Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: K Law