Agamben

Giorgio Agamben is particularly critical of the United States’ response to September 11, 2001, and its instrumentalization as a permanent condition that legitimizes a “state of exception” as the dominant paradigm for governing in contemporary politics. The New York Times reported on January 17th, 2004 a story about Agamben “an Italian philosopher and political theorist who was scheduled to teach at New York University this semester” as having decided not to do so, as a protest against the {then new} American policy of fingerprinting arriving visitors and employees from other countries.

In subsequent materials I looked up on Agamben, the professors warns against a “generalization of the state of exception” through laws like the USA PATRIOT Act, which means a permanent installment of martial law and emergency powers. In January 2004, he refused to give a lecture in the United States because under the US-VISIT he would have been required to give up his biometric information, which he believed stripped him to a state of “bare life” (zoe) and was akin to the tattooing that the Nazis did during World War II.

However, Agamben’s criticisms target a broader scope than the US “war on terror”. As he points out in State of Exception (2005), rule by decree has become common since World War I in all modern states, and has been since then generalized and abused. Agamben points out a general tendency of modernity, recalling for example that when Francis Galton and Alphonse Bertillon invented “judicial photography” for “anthropometric identification”, the procedure was reserved to criminals; to the contrary, today’s society is tending toward a generalization of this procedure to all citizens, placing the population under permanent suspicion and surveillance: “The political body thus has became a criminal body”. And Agamben notes that the Jews deportation in France and other occupied countries was made possible by the photos taken from identity cards.[17] Furthermore, Agamben’s political criticisms open up in a larger philosophical critique of the concept of sovereignty itself, which he explains is intrinsically related to the state of exception.”

It would seem that Agamben, especially in States of Exclusion, is talking about how America is living, through its media productions and myths, outside of history.

Advertisements

~ by 1womanarmy on February 5, 2008.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: