Theorizing Refugees, Borders, Il/legality: Nation-State-Exceptions

‘Refugees’, ‘asylum seekers’, ‘illegal migrants’, ‘exiles’, ‘nomads’, ‘aliens’…others.
These are all ‘in-between’ figures, exceptions to a political order defined by citizenship, borders, sovereignty and nation states. In their very existence, these figures represent a challenge to this political order, as social and political theorists have long recognized.
For example, Hannah Arendt deemed stateless people ‘the most symptomatic group in contemporary politics.’ More recently, Giorgio Agamben has stated: …the novelty of our era, which threatens the very foundations of the nation-state, is that growing portions of humanity can no longer be represented within it. For this reason – that is, inasmuch as the refugee unhinges the old trinity of state/nation/territory – this apparently marginal figure deserves rather to be considered the central figure of our political history.
This advanced interdisciplinary seminar engages with Arendt, Agamben and other theorists who explore the political meanings and implications of refugees and other inbetween figures – and especially the responses to them on the part of ostensibly liberaldemocratic states – with attention to practices such as citizenship, borders, sovereignty, human rights, il/legality, and the rule of law.

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