Sexed transcendentals: Reading giorgio agamben through the supplement of sexual difference

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In the last two decades, Italian Thought has been popularized and recognized outside its national boundaries. However, little has been done to re-frame and deepen its best contributions along the lines of feminist philosophy. This essay is a first and modest step in that direction as it aims at gendering two key elements in the philosophy of Giorgio Agamben: his theory of language and his latest critique of neoliberalism. In the following pages, I read respectively his early text, Infancy and History (1979), and the most recent one, The Use of Bodies (2016), against the backdrop of sexual difference, particularly Luisa Muraro's notion of the maternal symbolic as the interdicted foundation of the social order. In so doing, I demonstrate how, without being named or recognized, sexual difference stands behind much of Agamben's discussion, especially his notions of infancy and exteriority. Finally, I show how this omission is not without consequences; for it ends up limiting not only some of his considerations regarding truth and language but also the oppositional charge of the figure of the slave, which most prominently features as the pivotal element of his critique of modern governmentality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-47
Number of pages26
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

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