Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Nancy Ettlinger (2020) Unbounding ‘states of exception’, reconceptualizing precarity, Space and Polity

DOI: 10.1080/13562576.2020.1755645

This provocation unbounds ‘state of exception’ to account for its sustainability and its role in daily life. I argue that sustaining a ‘state of exception’ requires a governmentality to govern and render the exceptional ‘normal’ over time, pointing to the mutual constitution of the two modes of governance. The omnipresent condition of possible shifts between sovereignty and governmentality relocates precarity from a statically defined objectified circumstance to the active slippage between these two fields of power. Yet whereas a ‘state of exception’ can become normalized, subjectivity cannot because the configuration of individuals’ multiple subjectivities differs relative to their lived experiences.

KEYWORDS: Governmentality, sovereign power, state of exception, precarity, subjectivity

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