College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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time, revolutionary violence, Giorgio Agamben, destituent power, Furio Jesi


This dissertation is a study of the relation between time, subjectivity, and violence in revolutionary social transformation. It argues that Giorgio Agamben's theory of 'destituent power' offers a compelling reconception of the meaning and function of revolutionary violence, whose originality is bound up in the theory of time from which it cannot be dissociated. The thesis demonstrates that development of this theory required that Agamben revise his earlier conception of political violence and revolutionary time. While the definition of revolutionary violence remains constant throughout his work (as 'the restoration of participation in the creation of the world'), the nature and the means of this creation shift. Specifically, two developments are emphasized here: first, a shift from a negative, Marxist logic of self-abolition to one of deactivation or destitution; second, a change in the temporal logic of revolutionary transformation, which is no longer associated with the suspension of historical time, but with a logic of ‘operative’ time. The thesis also explores the important influence that Furio Jesi's theory of insurrectional temporarily exerted on Agamben's theory of destitution.

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