States of Exception I. The Politics of Sacrifice


A CRIPT Research Project

Special interrogation plans, extraordinary renditions, and temporary permanence centers are but a few examples of the “states of exception” that characterize contemporary global politics. Prison and refugee camps, torture and “legal violations”, “unlawful combatants” and “emergency procedures” – all these dispositifs seem more and more to confirm Walter Benjamin’s intuition that today, the exception has become the norm. But what lies behind this extrajudicial suspension of law? What kind of sovereignty is being reaffirmed by means of this (ab)use of power? Are states of exception symptoms of sovereignty’s weakening or its will to power? This project aims at critically exploring – both theoretically and empirically – the variety of states of exception, analyzing their forms, meanings, and evolution. We conceive exceptions both as historical phenomena and hermeneutical figures, spaces and times through which to reconsider the meaning and changing nature of politics in the so-called age of globalization.

States of Exception is an inter-disciplinary project articulated around three main moments or areas:

  1. States of Exception I: Figures

The Politics of Sacrifice: Martyrs & Migrants

  1. States of Exception II: Spaces

The Politics of Life: Drones & Lone Wolves

  1. States of Exception III: Times  

The Politics of Politics: to be confirmed…


CfP: States of Exceptions I

The Politics of Sacrifice: Martyrs and Migrants

The University of Manchester, December 10th–11th, 2015


“For they collected the bones and skulls of criminals who had been put to death for numerous crimes, men whom the law courts of the city had condemned to punishment, made them out to be gods, haunted their sepulchres, and thought that they became better by defiling themselves at their graves. ‘Martyrs’ the dead men were called, and ‘ministers’ of a sort, and ‘ambassadors’ from the gods to carry men’s prayers.”

Eunapius of Sardis, Lives of Philosophers and Sophists, IV century AD

Self-immolations and sacrifices, deadly processions and migration processes, martyrs and migrants are mirror figures that physically cross our social-political imaginaries, highlighting their crisis. From the Mediterranean as a new mare nostrum to the Tibetan plateau, from Palestine to the coasts of Australia, these “figures of the exception” are indicators of the crisis of Western political categories that, exported globally, cannot take root outside of the violent and tendentious context in which they were forged. In this first part of the “States of Exception” project, our intention is to use these “figures” as analytical prisms through which to re-read the origins and evolution of statuality and its sovereign manifestations, in an attempt to imagine alternative times and spaces for the politics to come.

The workshop will be held at the University of Manchester, December 10 and 11, 2015. We invite potential participants to submit abstracts of no more than 250 words by September 30th, 2015 drawing upon, but not limited to, such issues as:

  • The Mediterranean Migrants Crisis: Critical Analyses
  • Political Theologies of Martyrdom
  • Writing a Vacuum: Ethnographies of Migration
  • Phenomenology of Martyrdom: Sacrifice, Suicide, Killing
  • The World Seen from a Boat: Statelessness and Mobile Geographies
  • Martyrdom & World Religions: Critical Interpretations
  • Bio-Sovereignty: The Body of the Migrant, the Remains of Citizenship
  • Martyrdom in Context: Case Studies from around the World
  • Africa, Europe, Asia, Oceania, America: Translating Narratives of Migration and Diasporas
  • The Politics of Martyrdom: Self-Immolation and the Quest for Sovereignty
  • Martyrdom as a Politics of Sacrifice

We intend to compile a selection of the papers for publication after the workshop.

Please send abstracts with “States of Exception” in subject line to


2 thoughts on “States of Exception I. The Politics of Sacrifice

  1. Pingback: The Body of War | geographical imaginations

  2. Pingback: Call for papers for The Body of War: Drones and Lone Wolves, University of Lancaster on 24-25 November 2016 | Progressive Geographies

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