bare life
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Robert Burgoyne

This chapter explores the unprecedented formal experiments of Richard Mosse and Ai Weiwei in their attempts to capture the signature global event of our time, the mass movements of refugees and immigrants across geopolitical boundaries. In Mosse’s Incoming, a thermal camera registers the heat emanating from human bodies from some 30 miles away, providing images of refugees in lifeboats, transport trucks, and refugee camps that are both other-worldly, almost mutant in their strangeness, and deeply moving—images that rivet the gaze. In Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow, drone cameras render the vast scale of human displacement around the world—a view from above is interspersed with the close witnessing of cell phone video, using the visual language of spontaneous documentation in counterpoint with a technology associated with military surveillance. In both films, Giorgio Agamben’s concept of “bare life” is articulated within an advanced optical and technological framework that brings new critical questions into view.

2022 ◽  
pp. 107780042110668
Ewa Sidorenko

This is an autoethnography of World War II (WW2) survival and trauma based on a recovered family archive and a reflexive engagement with my own childhood memories. Driven by subjective imperatives to bear witness to forgotten war experiences, and to explore family mental health problems, I delve into not just personal memories but forgotten voices found in the archive whose stories have never been told thus offering a perspective of multiple subjects. My grandmother’s witness testimony of concentration camp survival recorded in 1946 compels me to research and reflect on life in the state of exception and the long-term and intergenerational impact on survivors. This autoethnographic work helps me examine the character of survival of war trauma as a form of exclusion from community and often an incomplete return from bare life to polis. Through engaging with the archive, I find some partial answers to questions about my family members, and reconstruct my family memory narrative.

2021 ◽  
pp. 39-47
Svetlana Dimitrova ◽  
Kristina Ovdina

The scale and the speed of the spread of the new coronavirus strain and economic crises associated with it are becoming the reason to rethink the essential features and ways of interaction between freedom and independence. The aim of the research is to consider new and evaluate the significance of traditional approaches to defining independence and freedom. The authors analyze the mechanisms of the formation and development of biopower, the effectiveness of which is manifested in the possibility of turning people into "obedient bodies" (M. Foucault) and reducing human existence to the state of "bare life" (J. Agamben).The researchers emphasize that the highest form biopower manifestation, arose due to the effective development of medicine, became the possibility of transforming life and death into political concepts that require a "special solution". Therefore, the restrictive measures that arose during the spread of COVID-19 cannot be considered as a manifestation of total forms of addiction are established by biopolitics. The research allows the authors to come to the conclusion that the impossibility of achieving freedom and the loss of independence arise in the process of consistent implementation of the individualistic ideals. The results of the study contain a few contradictions identified by the authors. First of all, the development of biopower points that the concern for people's health enables the State to penetrate and manage all spheres of an individual's existence including issues of life and death. Biopolitics does not contribute to the establishment and development of civil rights, but creates effective means for reducing people to a state of "bare life". In the spread of COVID-19 the contradiction of following the individualistic ideals became obvious. Risks and threats that have a global character are confronted by a person unwilling to take responsibility. The revealed contradictions lead to the conclusion that a condition to maintain independence and achieve freedom in the modern world can be the formation of the new types of solidarities that make it possible to overcome the autonomy of existence and develop a responsible attitude to what is happening in the world.

2021 ◽  
Sergei Prozorov

AbstractThe article addresses Giorgio Agamben’s critical commentary on the global governance of the Covid-19 pandemic as a paradigm of his political thought. While Agamben’s comments have been criticized as exaggerated and conspiratorial, they arise from the conceptual constellation that he has developed starting from the first volume of his Homo Sacer series. At the centre of this constellation is the relation between the concepts of sovereign power and bare life, whose articulation in the figure of homo sacer Agamben traces from the Antiquity to the present. We shall demonstrate that any such articulation is impossible due to the belonging of these concepts to different planes, respectively empirical and transcendental, which Agamben brings together in a problematic fashion. His account of the sovereign state of exception collapses a plurality of empirical states of exception into a zone of indistinction between different exceptional states and the normal state and then elevates this very indistinction to the transcendental condition of intelligibility of politics as such. Conversely, the notion of bare life, originally posited as the transcendental condition of possibility of positive forms of life, is recast as an empirical figure, whose sole form is the absence of form. We conclude that this problematic articulation should be abandoned for a theory that rather highlights the non-relation between sovereign power and bare life, which conditions the possibility of resistance and transformation that remains obscure in Agamben’s thought.

Refuge ◽  
2021 ◽  
Vol 37 (2) ◽  
pp. 30-37
Hashem Abushama

This short intervention starts by discussing Giorgio Agamben’s theoretical formulation of ‘bare life,’ popular in refugee studies. Thinking with the case study of Palestinian refugee camps, particularly in the West Bank, it argues that there are clear limitations to the discourse of and bare life. I argue that ‘bare life’ neither accounts for the multilayered relations of power, particularly colonialism, slavery, and indigenous genocide, that systemically make certain populations more susceptible to its power than others. Nor does it account for the modes of of those who are systemically relegated to its sphere. I conclude by working through some of the theoretical formulations around body politics from the field of Black studies, particularly Alexander Weheliye's 2014 concept of the flesh, in order to explore new directions they may point us towards in refugee studies.

2021 ◽  
Vol 72 (S1) ◽  
pp. 186-211
Ian Ward

2020 proved to be a remarkable year. Not the least remarkable was the realisation that, in a moment of perceived crisis, the instinctive response of the UK Government was to sweep away various so-called rights and liberties which might, in a calmer moment, have been presumed fundamental, and to rule by means of executive fiat. The purpose of this article is to interrogate both the premise and the consequence. Because, on closer inspection, there is nothing at all remarkable about how the Government reacted, for the same reason that there was little that was unprecedented about the experience of COVID-19. History is full of pandemics and epidemics, and government invariably acts in the same way. The first part of this article will revisit a particular theory of governance, again proved by history; that which brings together ‘bio-politics’ and the jurisprudence of the ‘exception’. The second part of the article will then revisit a prescient moment in British history; another disease, another panicked government, another lockdown. In the third, we will reflect further on the experience of COVID-19 and wonder what might be surmised from our foray into the past.

2021 ◽  
Vol 18 (2) ◽  
Agus Sunarto

Abstrak Penelitian ini mencoba untuk memahami politik kolonial yang dilakukan terhadap bangsa Turkistan dalam novel Nights in Turkistan karya Najib Al-Kailani melalui perspektif filsafat politik Giorgio Agamben. Lokus utama penelitian ini dengan perspektif tersebut mencoba menyibak proses normalisasi paradigma politik kolonial yang terdiri dari kekuasaan berdaulat, state of exception, bare life (ketelanjangan hidup), dan homo sacer. Penelitian ini menggunakan metode kualitatif deskriptif. Metode ini digunakan karena sumber data dalam penelitian ini berupa data tekstual yang terdiri dari kata, kalimat, paragraf dari objek material penelitian. Praktik kolonial yang dijalankan oleh pihak Cina dan Rusia menjadikan bangsa Turkistan mengalami degradasi eksistensinya baik dari aspek sosial, politik, maupun budaya. Karena itu penelitian ini akan menyibak lebih dalam proses kolonial yang dilakukan oleh Cina dan Rusia dari kritik filsafat politik Giorgio Agamben. Hasil penelitian ini menunjukkan bahwa pertama, praktik kolonialisme membawai konsekuensi kekuasaan berdaulat yang mencari legalitas hukum sekaligus penangguhan hukum terhadap aksi koloni; kedua, bangsa Turkistan yang tereduksi dan terdegradasi eksistensinya rentan terhadap tindakan koersif kolonial sehingga mereka tidak memiliki aksesibilas yang sempurna. Kata kunci: State Of Exception, Homo Sacer dan Layaly Turkistan Abstract This paper examines to understand the colonial politics that was carried out against the Turkistan people in Najib Al-Kailani's novel Nights in Turkistan through the framework of Giorgio Agamben's political philosophy. The main focus of this research with this perspective is trying to uncover the process of normalizing the colonial political paradigm, which consists of sovereign power, state of exception, bare life, and homo sacer. This research uses the descriptive qualitative method. This method is used because the data of this research is textual data consisting of words, sentences, paragraphs by the material object. The colonial practices carried out by the Chinese and Russians made the Turkistan nation experience a degradation of its existence from both social, political, and cultural aspects. Thus, this research will reveal more deeply the colonial process carried out by China and Russia than Giorgio Agamben's critique of political philosophy. The results of this study indicate that first, the practice of colonialism carries the consequences of sovereign power seeking legality as well as legal suspension of colony actions; second, the Turkistan peoples who were reduced and degraded in existence were vulnerable to colonial coercive action so that they did not have perfect accessibility. Keyword: State Of Exception, Homo Sacer dan Layaly Turkistan

Ivy Roy Sarkar ◽  
Rashmi Gaur

The place is fundamental to our existence; it conforms to the phenomenology of being in the world as we always occupy a place “if not with our minds, then always with our bodies”, to quote Moslund. The role of the senses in knowing the geographies of our existence, form a kind of structuring of space and defining of place. To understand the construction of sensorial-socio-cultural space of Assam at the time of extrajudicial killings that produces a ‘sense of fear’ jeopardizing the everyday negotiations of people inhabit the exceptional zones, this paper takes into account Aruni Kashyap’s debut novel The House with Thousand Stories (2013) that set in Hatimura village of Mayong area and deals with alternate retellings of micro-historical account of Assamese people. The paper dwells upon the artist’s creative response to the Agambenian ‘bare life’ that he associates with ‘bare’ or ‘pure senses’ to cultivate the idea of sensuousness of geography produced through the life stories of people and the interactions between human and non-human beings. Like Manipuri mother’s Naked March in front of Kangla Fort and Irom Sharmila’s sixteen years-long hunger strike that can be looked at as the metaphor for staging the ‘bare life’ against the body polity of the state, the sensual dimension of the geographic experience of Pablo, the narrator of the novel, in the village helps to understand the spaces of difference in the time of conflict.

Asian Cinema ◽  
2021 ◽  
Vol 32 (2) ◽  
pp. 127-143 ◽  
Elio Garcia

This article argues that the extreme long take of Lav Diaz is not only his aesthetic method but also his ideological position as a filmmaker of Third Cinema, reinstating the theory’s critical arsenal in opposing the violent structure of the postcolonial nation state. It maintains that the Diaz shot is isomorphic to the nation-form and has two political dimensions: first, the extreme duration of the shot is Diaz’s resistance to the imperialism of mainstream cinema and its debilitating effects by employing ‘dead time’ which creates restlessness and reflexivity that disrupt absorption to enable a mode of critical spectatorship; second, the Diaz shot is a critique on Philippine postcolonial society which can be understood by examining the triadic structure of space, time and body. Using the film Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon (From What Is Before) (2014), this article proposes an anatomy of the shot as a unitary system of environment, duration and progression of actions, labouring bodies of subalterns in the state of bare life. It expands the possibility of the long take from the narrowly held study of time and space to include a study of bodies.

2021 ◽  
Vol 34 (01) ◽  
pp. 154-164
Pradeep Sharma

Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites (2013) reflects the bare life of its protagonist, Agnes. She leads her Muselmann life from her outset of life. Grown up as foster child, she works as a farm maid whose rightful position is entirely ignored and eventually she is condemned to death. Natan molests her and she is banished from his home at night during snow fall when she demands her legal status at his home. Later she is accused of killing Natan and his friend. Before her execution, in order to tame and domesticate her, a priest is deployed who uses pastoral power, part of biopolitics that executes power over body. She unbuttons her pathetic life history along with her penitence. Finally, she leads a life of ‘homo sacer’ bearing the injustices like the superstes of holocaust and succumbed to condemnation.

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