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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
Political Theology and Political Crisis

It seems like an important task of political theology is to critically reflect on moments of political crisis by pulling back the veil on its latent theological content.

“Unalienable” Rights? Pompeo, Porter, and the Popes

Invoking “natural law” in debates over human rights does not necessarily lead to privileging religious rights over others, denying people’s rights to express their sexual or gender identity, or refusing to acknowledge economic and social rights.

Political Theological Resistance in Hong Kong

Christians in Hong Kong have found their public voice in protests against the Extradition Bill and their calls for human dignity.

Can We Not Understand That? Toward a Just and Equitable Accommodation of Indigenous Religious Practices on Public Lands

For the very reasons that religious freedom discourse is powerful, arguments made in its register, especially as they stretch the indeterminacy of religion in the directions of collective rights, should appropriately be on the table in Native peoples’ efforts to protect what is sacred to them.

Auto-Jurisdiction and Indigenous Futures

By auto-jurisdiction, I mean to convey the ways people look past the putative authority and mechanisms of prevailing jurisdictions and, alternatively, invoke the authority of tradition as long-term grounded experience in order to construct and speak forth their legitimacy.

Why Not Religious Freedom?

Like the advocates I follow, I don’t ask what religious freedom really means; I ask what it can mean.

A Hollow Freedom: On Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association

Neither the government nor the Court doubted the religiosity of the practice for which the Yurok, Karuk, and Tolowa nations sought protection. Yet, arguments about religious freedom obscured the true issues at stake and the need for sovereign freedom.

Movement and Contra-movement: A Pneumatological Response to Migration

Life in God is defined by a joyous freedom of movement, a loving and adventurous invitation to the dance of the Spirit. The book of Acts is witness to those who accepted this invitation like Peter, moved to go to a Gentile centurion’s home, thus initiating a new ministry with global implications beyond his ken.

From Faithful Patriot to Faithful Presence

The Trump administration’s most recent actions at the border signal the end of all pretense by the president—and many in his base—that Christian ethical principles should meaningfully inform U.S. immigration and asylum policies. Patriotism and faith have become indistinguishable.

#NoBootsNoBedsNoWall: Cuentos on how Industrial Complexes Feed off the Social Sin of Othering

…and they all crossed freely

…and they were heard without initial judgement

Criminal Communion

The social construction of the criminal other has long served as a justification for subjugation. Pope Francis has stated that the people of God can smell holiness, and perhaps there is also a greater need for the olfactory discernment of evil in our midst. Despite the risk of too literal an interpretation of this metaphor, deeper reflection is warranted of the ways in which evil must be resisted.

Please Mind the “God” Gap

Efforts to leverage “God” are often attuned to the dynamics of the symbol yet remain largely untroubled by the gaps such acts generate.