The place of sovereignty: Mapping power with agamben, butler, and foucault

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16 Scopus citations


This article addresses the relationship between sovereignty, biopolitics and governmentality in the work of Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, and Michel Foucault. By unpacking Foucault's genealogy of modern governmentality, it responds to a criticism leveled against Foucauldian accounts of power for their alleged abandonment of the traditional model of power in juridico-institutional terms in favor of an understanding of power as purely productive. This claim has most significantly been developed by Agamben in "Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life". I argue that Judith Butler's analysis of power, in particular in her essay "Indefinite Detention", presents a more differentiated account of power that registers the significance of practices of sovereignty and resonates with Foucault's lectures on "Security, Territory, Population".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-69
Number of pages26
JournalCritical Horizons
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Agamben
  • Biopolitics
  • Butler
  • Foucault
  • Governmentality
  • Sovereignty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy


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