The refugee as bare life in the camp? Agamben on refugees and the coming politics with Tamara Cărăuș

The event is part of the seminar series Migration in a Global Perspective and will take place on March 7, Room 102, Faculty of Sociology and Social Assistance, Panduri Campus at 17.00.

Giorgio Agamben’s political philosophy portrays the refugee as the figure that exposes the fictions of national sovereignty, human rights, citizenship and as the modern ultimate biopolitical subject or ‘bare life’, regulated in a state of exception outside of the normal legal framework – the camp. As the same time, Agamben considers the refugee ‘the only thinkable figure’ in which one may see today ‘the forms and limits of a coming political community’, and as well, according to him, we have to ‘build our political philosophy anew starting from the one and only figure of the refugee’. But what does it mean to rethink political philosophy from the figure of refugee? Can the figure of refuge be the ground of a new political theory without bringing back the whole cluster of concepts that produce the figure of refugee: state, rights, citizenship? What are the theoretical ‘instruments’ for re-thinking politics starting from the figure of refugees? By adressing these questions, the presentation aims to critically assess Agamben’s claims regarding the significance of refugee for rethinking political theory anew. After an introduction to Agamben’s political philosophy, the presentation will focus on Agamben’s texts on refugees from Homo Sacer and Means Without Ends. Further, the presentation will  analyze the ‘uses’ of Agamben’s work in refugee/migration studies, and, in the last part, it will evaluate the prospects of re-thinking political philosophy anew starting from Agamben and the ‘figure of refugee’.

Short bio: Tamara Caraus is a Visiting Professor at the University of Bucharest Research Institute – Social Sciences Division. Her current area of research includes political theory of cosmopolitanism, migration, global resistance, and agonistic/radical democracy. Tamara Caraus has undertaken research projects in political philosophy at University of Rijeka, Croatia; Institut fur die Wissenschaften vom Menschen, Vienna, Austria; University of Uppsala, Sweden; University of Groningen, The Netherland; Oxford University, UK; Palacky University of Olomouc, Czech Republic and others, and was the Principal Investigator within the research project Critical Foundations of Contemporary Cosmopolitanism (2011-2014) at New Europe College, Bucharest. She contributed with articles to various academic journals and edited volumes, published tzara mea (2001), Ethical Perspectives on the Postmodern Rewriting (2003), Traps of Identity (2011), and edited Cosmopolitanism and the Legacy of Dissent (Routledge, 2014, with Camil Parvu), Re-Grounding Cosmopolitanism: Towards a Post-Foundational Cosmopolitanism (Routledge, 2015, with Elena Paris); Cosmopolitanism Without Foundations (Zeta Books, 2015, with Dan Lazea); Cosmopolitanism and Global Protests: Special Issue of the Journal Globalisations (with Camil Parvu, Taylor &Francis, 2016).


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