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Category: States of Exception

“The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule” (Walter Benjamin). Political theology takes up considerations of law and its exception, with a critical eye to the tradition of the oppressed. States of exception considers questions of law, governance, sovereignty, and violence.

Resources

Bibliography:

  1. Paul W. Kahn, Political Theology: Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (2011)
  2. Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1952)
  3. Jacques Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign (2001-2002)
  4. Ted Smith, Weird John Brown: Divine Violence and the Limits of Ethics (2014)
  5.  Giorgio Agamben, The Kingdom and the Glory: for a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government (2011)
  6. Nicole Loraux, The Divided City: On Memory and Forgetting in Ancient Athens (2001)

Relevant Journal Articles:

  • Andrew Krinks, “The Color of Transcendence: Whiteness, Sovereignty, and the Theologico-Political,” Political Theology 19, no. 2 (2018): 79-98
  • Kyle Lambelet, “Lovers of God’s Law: The Politics of Higher Law and the Ethics of Civil Disobedience,” Political Theology 19, no. 7 (2018): 593-610
  • Bonnie Honig, “Is Man a ‘Sabbatical Animal’?: Agamben, Rosenzweig, Heschel, Arendt,” Political Theology 20, no. 1 (2019): 1-23
  • Sarah Hammerschlag, “Believing in the USA: Derrida, Melville and the Great American Charlatan,” Political Theology 21, no. 1-2 (2020): 56-70
Gender conflict over temple entry and the limits of legalizing identity politics in contemporary India

The Sabarimala judgment of the Indian Supreme Court has been widely celebrated in liberal-progressive circles for its inclusionary gesture of upholding the right of women to enter Hindu temples as public places of religious worship. But to make sex political, what we need is the discovery of a new language of sovereignty that defies and exceeds the identitarian logic of inclusion and exclusion

The Middle Place

We must re-imagine what it is to be human together. That is both a religious and a legal project, in my view.

Law, Religion, and Reality Fiction

Sullivan’s scholarship reminds us that without the collective work of reimagining, to seek justice through law alone is to succumb to legal fiction.

Going to Law: A Response to Winnifred Fallers Sullivan’s Church State Corporation

Religion continues to bedevil the secularist attempt to relegate it to the private sphere.

Manufacturing Dissent:  The DC Insurrection and the Cycle of Law-Preserving and Law-Making Violence

We are shocked. Morally outraged. How could a US president tout “law and order” to incite a blatant attack on “American democracy” and “the rule of law,” encouraging his supporters to storm the US capitol? Commentators decry such hypocrisy, stating the obvious contradiction between US constitutional law and violent coups. My contention in this essay is that no such contradiction exists.

The Revolutionary Church of Winnifred Fallers Sullivan

Rather than worry about whether other people will come to the table, whether other people will listen, we must, first, come to the table ourselves, be willing to do the revolutionary work of “listening and talking,” proceeding into the real risk of such encounter with likewise real openness to the experience and its transformative effect. This is, to risk profound understatement, a difficult talk.

The Church as Juridical Fiction

Church-state relations have been examined as a catalyst of legal conflicts, particularly in the United States today. Yet what do we mean when we talk about the “church” in legal contexts?

From the Sovereign to the Church

The opposite of sovereignty is not anarchy but rather hope, and hope is accessed through the practice of attending to the complex space (or “broken middle”) of social life, the space that is exposed when purported sovereigns are demystified.

The Network of Relationships in Law and Religion

There are at least six identifiable and interrelated relationships in the three books under consideration in this forum. Investigations into the nature, expectations, and communicative barriers in any given relationship is of value to our broader scholarly field but so too is asking how the contours of one relationship may impact that of another

What Good is “Religion”?

Regardless of our interrogation of it, the terminology of “religion” is operative in the world—not only among the scholars who frame it as a second-order category, but among our interlocutors and kinship networks. Given the baggage that often accompanies it, perhaps it is unsurprising that so many of us are hesitant to apply this label to the people, places, and practices to which we attach meaning.

The State “don’t own a goddamn thing”: Illiberal Religification of the Legal System

MOVE, while an illiberal religion characterized by abrasive rhetoric, is nonetheless an example of the religification of law and the legal system. MOVE activists refused to surrender the court to the state, seeing the legal system as a potential tool against the state, rightly beyond state control.

Imagining the (Theological) Whole

There is no social location from which an understanding of the whole can emerge, let alone a social location from which wisdom can emerge. How shall we avoid nihilism? I look to the hills, from whence shall come our salvation?