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Excavating Government: Giorgio Agamben's Archaeological Dig

By Sophie Fuggle


This paper looks at the development of certain Foucauldian concepts and themes within the work of the Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben. Where Agamben is well-known for his critique of biopower in Homo Sacer, his recent work a more complex engagement with Foucault both in terms of his subject matter, governmentality and economy (oikonomia), and his critical methodology, most notably, his reaffirmation of the value of Foucault’s archaeological method. Focusing on three of Agamben’s recent publications, Signatura Rerum: Sul Metodo, Il regno e la gloria. Per una genealogia teologica dell'economia e del governo and What is an Apparatus?, the article looks first at Agamben’s development of Foucault’s archaeological method within his own concept of the signature. It then goes on to consider Agamben’s identification of an economic theology in contradistinction to Schmitt’s political theology and how Agamben’s discussion of collateral damage might be related to Foucault’s notion of security as developed in Security, Territory, Population. Finally, the article considers how Agamben links Foucault’s notion of ‘dispositif’ [apparatus] to an economic theology of government, calling for the development of counter-apparatuses in a similar way to Foucault’s call for ‘resistances.’ The article concludes by considering both the benefits and the limitations of Agamben’s engagement with Foucault

Topics: L210, R100, R130, V500
Year: 2009
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