Reclaiming "bare life"? Against Agamben on refugees

Owens, Patricia (2009) Reclaiming "bare life"? Against Agamben on refugees. International Relations, 23 (4). pp. 567-582. ISSN 0047-1178

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Giorgio Agamben claims that refugees can be seen as the ultimate 'biopolitical' subjects: those who can be regulated and governed at the level of population in a permanent 'state of exception'. Refugees are reduced to 'bare life': humans as animals in nature without political freedom. Contra Agamben, it will be argued here that if refugee populations are not to face some inexorable trend toward a rule of 'exception', then it will not be through reclaiming 'bare life'. It will be wholly dependent on the ability to forge a public realm grounded on the appropriate distinction between nature and political artifice, between human life and the political world. This argument is made through contrasting Agamben's writing on refugees with Hannah Arendt's. What is at stake in the difference is illustrated through the example of refugee lip-sewing.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Depositing User: Patricia Owens
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:26
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2012 11:38
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