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Plastic Sovereignties

Agamben and the Politics of Aesthetics

Arne De Boever

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Does sovereignty have a future in the 21st century?

Through a sustained engagement with the work of the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, and against the background of contemporary political phenomena, Arne De Boever explores what positive political possibilities the notion of sovereignty might still hold. Using the philosophy of Catherine Malabou, he argues that these possibilities reside in an aesthetic reconceptualisation of sovereignty as a plastic power that is able to give, receive and explode the forms of our political future.


Prologue: The Future of Sovereignty
Part I: Aesthetics
1: An Experiment with Language
2: The Divine Violence of Storytelling
3: From Translatability to Politics
Part II: Economy
4: The Proletariat’s Bare Life
5: Technology, Ontology, Politics
6: The Work of Inoperativity
Part III: Politics
7: Agamben in America
8: Sovereignty’s Glitches
9: Formations of Infancy

About the Author

Arne De Boever is Director of the MA Aesthetics and Politics program at the California Institute of the Arts.


Rejecting all form of transcendence or messianism and providing us with a highly original reading of Agamben, Arne De Boever proves that sovereignty implies its own transformability.

- Catherine Malabou, Kingston University

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