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Pluralism, peoplehood and political theology in international legal scholarship
journal contributionposted on 2018-01-01, 00:00 authored by John Morss
The versions of ‘political theology’ articulated by Schmitt and Benjamin, and in more recent times by Agamben, have been of substantial influence on debate in international legal scholarship. The standpoint adopted here is the project of a collective and pluralist analysis of public international law. It is argued that while Agamben’s writings have the potential to contribute to this project, available appropriations of Agamben’s influential claims regarding sovereignty, ‘bare life’ and the ‘state of exception’ are inadequate in this respect. The role played by ‘peoplehood’ both illustrates and contributes to the conceptual difficulties within the present debate. Ways forward for the scholarship of international law include a more discriminating appropriation of Agamben which would attempt to decouple a potentially pluralist and collectivist Agamben from a biopolitics- and state-focused Agamben. This would be to go beyond ‘the kingdom’ and possibly, beyond ‘political theology’.