Excluding the Included: des Hommes Étrangers in Taiwan and France via Theories of Giorgio Agamben

Chang, Ti-Han orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1324-2992 (2016) Excluding the Included: des Hommes Étrangers in Taiwan and France via Theories of Giorgio Agamben. In: Identity, Belonging and Human Rights. Brill, pp. 91-104. ISBN 978-1-84888-457-1

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Official URL: https://brill.com/view/title/38347


This chapter applies Giorgio Agamben’s biopolitical analyses of ‘naked life’ and ‘camp’ to the question of des hommes étrangers in Taiwan and France. The concept of ‘naked life’ applies to a person who is excluded from human jurisdictions and reduced to a merely biological existence. Similarly, what Agamben calls ‘camp’ emerges when a determinate order exercises the management of biological life so as to produce a discursive space which either limits or abolishes the subject’s rights. Camp may thus occur in many forms, be it a concentration camp, a detention room in the airport, or the declaration of a state of exception in a country. Therefore, Agamben’s work helps us understand the liminal spaces that hommes étrangers occupy in a global modern society. In the context of the modern nation-state, the mobility and the conditions of these hommes étrangers problematize above all our definitions of space and territory. The chapter thus aims to study how the status of hommes étrangers, which involves elements of both inclusion and exclusion, continuously shapes a suspended space in the nation-state. The key argument is that the contemporary nation-state, empowered with the sovereignty over human life, sees human life as a political construct and attempts to manage it biopolitically in the framework of citizenship (that is to say, as a population of physical and political bodies in need of government).1 Hence, it is due to this perception of citizenship and the value attached to sovereignty that the hommes étrangers remain perpetually in a peculiar grey-area. Likewise, the chapter will show how the modern nation-state gives rise to legal inequalities that are to the detriment of the foreign population.

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