The Political Ontology of Giorgio Agamben: Signatures of Life and Power

Research output: Book/ReportBook - authored


With the publication of The Use of Bodies (2016) Agamben's multi-volume Homo Sacer project has come to an end, or to paraphrase Agamben, has been abandoned. We now have a new vantage point from which to reread Agamben’s corpus; not only his method but his political and philosophical thought can been seen in a clearer light. This timely book both assesses and contributes to the debates on the Homo Sacer project in its entirety.

Rethinking the notions of life and power – two of the central themes in Agamben’s work – through a reconstruction of his philosophical method and the examination of his critique of Western metaphysics, this book argues that Agamben’s thought cannot be fully grasped if we do not account for the intertwining of politics and ontology. In some debates, Agamben’s early and influential writings on signification, language, and metaphysics are disregarded or superseded by the wide reception of the first volume of the Homo Sacer project, which, in turn, is frequently read in isolation; not only from Agamben’s earlier writings but also from the other eight volumes. However this book argues that it is only by revisiting Agamben’s critique of signification and metaphysics and examining his reconstruction of the archaeological method that we can understand his notions of life and power. By bringing together the two parts of the Homo Sacer project, the archaeology of the signature of Sovereignty and the archaeology of governmentality, this book provides an analysis of the production of Agambenian 'bare life'. In this sense this project rearticulates Agamben’s works on signification, language and ontology with his archaeology of power. 

Offering an original examination of Agamben’s notion of resistance, this is essential reading for any thoughtful consideration of his philosophical legacy.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages208
ISBN (Print)9781350081369
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2019

Publication series

NameBloomsbury Studies in Continental Philosophy


  • Political Philosophy
  • Biopolitics
  • political theory


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