Thursday Lecture Series

Life after Sovereignty

Thursday, The Heyman Center

Over the past decade, few conceptual rubrics have more thoroughly suffused the theoretical vocabularies of those working in the humanities and social sciences than that of sovereignty. But at what cost? How is it that this single concept, with its accompanying cast of characters (bare life, precarious life, creaturely life), has managed to capture so dramatically our political and philosophical imaginations no less than our theological imagination? Could it be that our preoccupation with sovereignty, in all of its ‘emergent’ permutations, has prevented us from narrating those other stories, those other worlds, whose modes of death and life are irreducible—even indifferent—to its dialectics and determinations? Drawing on ethnographic research in northern Ghana, Dr. Goldstone asked what it would mean, not simply to pluralize or horizontalize or even “democratize” sovereignty, as some have tried to do, but to begin to envisage life outside the whole sovereignty edifice altogether.