The political ontology of Giorgio Agamben: bare life and the governmental machine

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis develops an account of Agamben’s philosophical archaeology through an analysis of the notions of signatures, paradigms and the archē, and through an examination of Agamben’s critique of both Western metaphysics and deconstruction. It claims that Agamben’s philosophical archaeology and his analysis of the differentiating logic of Western metaphysics constitute the necessary framework from which the Homo Sacer project should be examined. In this sense this project rearticulates Agamben’s works on signification, language and ontology with his archaeology of power. Indeed, my thesis reconstructs Agamben’s critique of metaphysis in order to bring together the two parts of the Homo Sacer project through an analysis of the production of bare life: the archaeology of the signature of Sovereignty and the archaeology of governmentality. It argues that throughout the work of Agamben there is no rupture in terms of his treatment of power but rather that there are different emphases that are combined in his analysis of the governmental machine. Finally, this thesis uses the theoretical and methodological frameworks that it develops to address the relation between biopolitics, the governmental machine, Agamben’s account of ontology, and bare life. To conclude, this thesis offers an examination of Agamben’s notion of resistance, that is, the politics of inoperativity through an analysis of the central categories that constitute his attempt at rendering inoperative the signatures of Life and Power: Destituent Power, form-­‐of-­‐life, and Use.
Date of AwardFeb 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorMark Devenney (Supervisor)

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