The concept of space of exception is closely associated with that of state of exception. While the latter has a long and complex history in Western political thought, it is safe to say that its most recent prominence is largely due to the work of Italian political philosopher Giorgio Agamben. In turn, Agamben’s in-depth investigation of the workings of sovereign power in modern society finds original inspiration from the work of German conservative jurist Carl Schmitt on the sovereign exception. Schmitt’s writings identified a crisis of legitimacy in the European nation states resulting from what he perceived as the failure to fill the void left by the prior theological foundation of political authority and thus sought to establish a new form of legitimacy for modern political order. For Schmitt, the power of the modern state, the basis on which states could unify a people, was based on antagonism: its capacity to identify “friends” and “enemies.” Crucially, this division did not simply map onto that of national boundaries but could also refer to “enemies” within the nation, to whom the laws and protection of the political community would no longer apply. Thus, Schmitt opens his 1922 Political Theology with a widely cited statement where he explains that the sovereign is “who decides on the exception”; who, in other words, has the authority and the resolve to proclaim, in a case of necessity, a “state of exception.” By attributing the political legitimacy of the sovereign to its power to suspend the law, Schmitt placed the sovereign simultaneously inside and outside the legal system. This complex topology would remain an enduring feature of work on the spatial logic of the state of exception.

Spaces/spatialities of exception

C. Minca
2020

Abstract

The concept of space of exception is closely associated with that of state of exception. While the latter has a long and complex history in Western political thought, it is safe to say that its most recent prominence is largely due to the work of Italian political philosopher Giorgio Agamben. In turn, Agamben’s in-depth investigation of the workings of sovereign power in modern society finds original inspiration from the work of German conservative jurist Carl Schmitt on the sovereign exception. Schmitt’s writings identified a crisis of legitimacy in the European nation states resulting from what he perceived as the failure to fill the void left by the prior theological foundation of political authority and thus sought to establish a new form of legitimacy for modern political order. For Schmitt, the power of the modern state, the basis on which states could unify a people, was based on antagonism: its capacity to identify “friends” and “enemies.” Crucially, this division did not simply map onto that of national boundaries but could also refer to “enemies” within the nation, to whom the laws and protection of the political community would no longer apply. Thus, Schmitt opens his 1922 Political Theology with a widely cited statement where he explains that the sovereign is “who decides on the exception”; who, in other words, has the authority and the resolve to proclaim, in a case of necessity, a “state of exception.” By attributing the political legitimacy of the sovereign to its power to suspend the law, Schmitt placed the sovereign simultaneously inside and outside the legal system. This complex topology would remain an enduring feature of work on the spatial logic of the state of exception.
Elsevier Encyclopaedia of Human Geography
229
234
R. Carter-White; C. Minca
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/708567
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