animal.machine.sovereign. -- issue fifteen -- Deadline: 9/1/2010

full name / name of organization: 

CALL FOR PAPERS -- theory@buffalo
an interdisciplinary journal of the humanities

Politics begins with the sovereign hospitality toward those included and the decision against those excluded from the law. From the very beginning, as early as Aristotle, politics has been described as a uniquely human activity distinct from the apolitical realm of animals. The human sits inside the political sphere while the animal finds itself always commanded outside. Politics begins with inclusion/exclusion and, thus, with definition. The human, that uniquely political being, therefore requires a definition that distinguishes it from the animal. Agamben refers to the production of this caesura between the human and the animal as an "anthropological machine." The caesura, however, is never absolute. Whether one considers Arendt's argument that the "barbarian" was excluded from the polis because he lacked a fundamental trait of the human condition or Agamben's analysis of Nazi propaganda's animalization of the Jews in order to legitimize the "Final Solution," one recognizes that the exclusion of human beings from politics occurs when humanity is reduced to an animalistic appellation. Those excluded from politics are denied the very political condition that has classically distinguished humans from animals.

While modern sovereignty excludes animals by producing a certain definition of the human being, the sovereign retains animalistic traits insofar as "he" is excluded from covenants and, therefore, the law. At the same time, however, Schmitt argues that, by concealing the traces of its supra-lawful position, modern sovereignty becomes a kind of machine: an impersonal and lifeless body of laws unfolding and ruling outside of a requisite human will. As either animal or machine (or as both), sovereignty appears situated at the limit between the human, the mechanical, and the animal. It is precisely this limit that issue fifteen of theory@buffalo seeks to interrogate.

The editors welcome essays that probe the political constitution of the human-animal divide as a condition for thinking sovereignty, law, nation, the State, and politics in general. Possible topics include the following: individuality and community; autonomy and heteronomy; bios and zoe; power and domination; democracy and authority; legitimacy and violence; legality and exception; hospitality and the arrival; enmity and friendship; life and world; natality and mortality; the sacred and the secular; production and reproduction; ideology and state machineries.

The editors welcome approaches to these topics and themes from a variety of theoretical perspectives which include, but are not limited to continental philosophy, critical theory, democratic theory, feminism and gender studies, film studies, literary theory, legal and political theory, postcolonial theory, psychoanalysis. The theoretical works of the following thinkers are of particular (though not exclusive) interest: Agamben, Arendt, Aristotle, Bataille, Benjamin, Derrida, Esposito, Freud, Foucault, Hegel, Heidegger, Hobbes, Irigaray, Kristeva, Lacan, Marx, Nancy, Schmitt, Strauss, Weil.

theory@buffalo also accepts book reviews. These can be on any topic and must be 1,200 words or less. All other submissions should be no longer than 10,000 words. Please send two blind copies with a cover page and disk to the address below. Or, please attach submission electronically as an MS Word attachment to or, re: theory@buffalo 15.

All submissions are due September 1, 2010

Tyler Williams and Javier Burdman, Editors
Department of Comparative Literature
638 Samuel Clemens Hall, North Campus
State University of New York at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14260