Intersections and Divergences in Contemporary Theory: Baudrillard and Agamben On Politics And the Daunting Questions of Our Time

Author: Giorgio Agamben
Translated by: Vincenzo Binetti and Cesare Casarino
With an Introduction by: Gerry Coulter

Why does Baudrillard enjoy reading Agamben? One reason is that while there are few direct conceptual overlaps – there are many thematic ones – as each, in his own way, attempts to push us beyond contemporary understandings of the state and politics. Both share a deep mistrust of media and political elites, the nation state, technology, and are strong proponents of thought and writing as powerful forms of resistance. Both are also deeply concerned about terrorism but more so with the terrorism perpetrated by states than rogue groups. Both thinkers also share a kind of optimism although if there is a difference between the two, it may reside in Baudrillard’s understanding that the catastrophe that Agamben seeks to avoid, may have already taken place. Finally, both thinkers have suffered a certain marginalization which speaks to the depth of the banality of our institutions of higher learning given that Agamben and Baudrillard press us to examine some of the most daunting questions humans have ever faced.

Finally we must acknowledge that Agamben and Baudrillard are at the margins of political analysis today. The mediatized information continuum, the system of corruption and security, the education system, including Sociology and Political Science (enmeshed as they are in the banal discourses of policy analysis), function efficiently to protect citizens and students from Agamben and Baudrillard. This poses a great challenge to students of contemporary theory more generally.

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Foto: Bernhard Weber

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