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Interview with Giorgio Agamben Life, A Work of Art Without an Author: The State of Exception, the Administration of Disorder and Private Life

By Ulrich Raulff
Read the Full Contribution as a PDF

[Editors’ note: this interview, conducted by Ulrich Raulff in Rome on 4March 2004, was originally published, in German, by the Süddeutsche Zeitung on 6 April 2004. We are grateful to Ulrich Raulff and Giorgio Agamben for the permission to translate and publish this interview in German Law Journal. This translation was made by German Law Journal Co-Editor, Morag Goodwin, EUI, Florence.  All notes have been provided for this publication by the editors.]

Raulff:  Your latest book The State of Exception has recently been published in German. It is an historical and legal-historical analysis of a concept that we, at first blush, associate with Carl Schmitt. What does this concept mean for your Homo Sacerproject?

AgambenThe State of Exception belongs to a series of genealogical essays that follow on from Homo Sacer and which should form a tetralogy.  Regarding the content, it deals with two points. The first is a historical matter: the state of exception or state of emergency has become a paradigm of government today.  Originally understood as something extraordinary,an exception, which should have validity only for a limited period of time, but a historical transformation has made it the normal form of governance.  I wanted to show the consequence of this change for the state of the democracies in which we live.  The second is of a philosophical nature and deals with the strange relationship of law and lawlessness, law and anomy.  The state of exception establishes a hidden but fundamental relationship between law and the absence of law.  It is a void, a blank and this empty space is constitutive of the legal system.

Raulff:  You wrote already in the first volume...