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Agamben and Colonialism

Edited by Marcelo Svirsky, Simone Bignall

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12 new essays evaluating Agamben's work from a postcolonial perspective

Svirsky and Bignall assemble leading figures to explore the rich philosophical linkages and the political concerns shared by Agamben and postcolonial theory. Agamben's theories of the 'state of exception' and 'bare life' are situated in critical relation to the existence of these phenomena in the colonial/postcolonial world.

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Introduction: Agamben and Colonialism, Simone Bignall and Marcelo Svirsky
I. Colonial States of Exception
Imperialism, Exceptionalism and the Contemporary World, Yehouda Shenhav
1. The Management of Anomie: The State of Exception in Post-communist Russia, Sergei Prozorov
2. The Cultural Politics of Exception, Marcelo Svirsky
II. Colonial Sovereignty
4. Indigenising Agamben: Rethinking Sovereignty in Light of the 'Peculiar' Status of Native Peoples, Mark Rifkin
5. Reading Kenya's Colonial State of Emergency after Agamben, Stephen Morton
6. Colonial Sovereignty, Forms of Life and Liminal Beings in South Africa, Stewart Motha
III. Bare Life and Bio-Politics
7. Encountering Bare Life in Italian Libya and Colonial Amnesia in Agamben, David Atkinson
8. Abandoning Gaza, Ariella Azoulay and Adi Ophir
9. Colonial Histories: Biopolitics and Shantytowns in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area, Silvia Grinberg
IV. Method, History and Potentiality
10. Metropolis and Colonisation, Leland de la Durantaye
11. 'The Work of Men is Not Durable': History, Haiti and the Rights of Man, Jessica Whyte
12. Potential Postcoloniality: Sacred Life, Profanation and the Coming Community, Simone Bignall
Notes on Contributors

About the Author

Marcelo Svirsky is a Lecturer in International Studies at the University of Wollongong, Australia

Simone Bignall is an adjunct Senior Lecturer in the School of History and Philosophy at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. She has published widely on issues concerning colonialism and postcolonialism. She is the author of Postcolonial Agency (2010) and the co-editor, with Paul Patton, of Deleuze and the Postcolonial (2010), both published by Edinburgh University Press.


This excellent collection mobilizes Agamben’s provocative account of biopolitics to reckon with the history and present of colonial subjectivation, as well as the possibilities for postcolonial transformation. It is an important addition to contemporary political analysis of the centrality of colonialism in the formation of the modern Western state.

- Catherine Mills, University of Sydney

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