530 - Space-Times of Being Political - This course asks the question: what is it to be political? How is it that politics is a part of being in the world, and how is it that we fashion ourselves into subjects of politics in response to the political? What are the politics of these acts of subject formation?
As a point of departure, we will consider and examine how it is that contemporary political discourse circulates around ideals regarding the position of the citizen, specifically in relation to the territorially sovereign state. We will examine how it is that being political now has been rendered synonymous with state citizenship. In conjunction, though, we will explore ways in which state citizenship is also thoroughly unconvincing as a definition of political ontology, considering how anyone's being is called to political circumstance that exceed, transverse, or have no place within the boundaries of sovereign states. Of interest, then, are the ways in which any one of us is prompted to ask, "if not the state, where else is my politics?" Theories of what it is to be political are now forwarded that variously situate political being as contained, rather, within the spaces of, for example: community, village, province, non-sovereign nations, sex, sexuality, religion, bioregion, culture, ethnicity, language group, class-consciousness, world, or globe. However, the central challenge of this course is to demonstrate how critical inquiry into citizenship is short-sighted if it leads only to a rethinking of how one is placed in one's political being. For, while doing so may draw important challenge to the principle of state sovereignty, it is also to leave unquestioned the basic and problematic ontology of citizenship that makes it unconvincing. To think one's politics as contained, be it in the space of the state, the community, the globe, or any other place, is to already assume a geometry of sorts underlying one's political being, allowing one the apparent possibility of deriving political policy in terms of its structure. Thus the initial question of politics goes ignored.
Considering how it is that theories of politics are first provoked, we will examine how the political is a condition in which certain parameters for the purpose of good policy-making are simply unavailable. We will study how political theory and a sense of the need to be political arises in terms of uncertainty in the location and coordinates of one's being, how political being is conditioned by problems of movement and change and not space or territory. We will then trace how it is that modern theories of being political respond to problems of movement and change in a series of attempts to either minimise or elliminate the problem of the political, the grandest forms of such attempts being theories of sovereign states and state citizenship. In this respect, we will place considerable emphasis on examining how it is that the intial problems of change and movement, that are recognised also by modern theorists of state citizenship, are displaced and overrun, historically, with a specific spatial-temporal aesthetic. We will explore how modern political being is conventionally theorised as existing in specific spaces that travel through clear channels of time. Thus, we will engage in critical consideration of how it is that theories of sovereignty and the sovereign citizen gain theoretical sovereignty within political discourse.
In opening the spatial-temporal renderings of political being to critical inquiry, this course is ultimately most concerned with considering what it then means to be political within the political itself, within conditions of movement and change.
Readings assigned for this course will offer historical breadth, with particular focus on early-modern and Enlightenment theories of political ontology. We will also engage with considerable depth in contemporary struggles to critically engage the spatial-temporal conditions of modern political theory and problems of theorising being in conditions of change and movement. Required readings will be drawn from texts written by the following authors, amongst others: Giorgio Agamben; F. R. Ankersmit; Aristotle; Étienne Balibar; Jens Bartelson; Henri Bergson; Wendy Brown; William Connolly; Gilles Deleuze; Jacques Derrida; Peter Fitzpatrick; Michel Foucault; Elizabeth Grosz; Barry Hindess; Thomas Hobbes; Immanuel Kant; Hans Kelsen; Martti Koskenniem; Ernesto Laclau; Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe; Nicolo Machiavelli; Doreen Massey; Jean-Luc Nancy; Friedrich Nietzsche; Plato; Jacques Ranciere; Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Carl Schmitt; Michael J. Shapiro; Nigel Thrift; Yi-Fu Tuan; R. B. J. Walker; Max Weber; and Slavoj Žižek.
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