Til bevillingsoversigt

Politics of the Exception: Towards a Political Theory of the State(s) of Exception

Carlsberg Foundation Reintegration Fellowships

What

My project is about states of exception and their implications for democracy and the rule of law. States of exception have been deployed increasingly frequently over the past two decades in response to a series of crises that started with the War on Terror and reached its most recent zenith during the Covid-19 pandemic. A state of exception is an emergency measure whereby a state suspends normal democratic procedures and the rule of law to deal with an existential crisis or threat. This poses unique challenges to liberal democracies. The aim of my project is to develop a political theory of the state(s) of exception, capable of grasping its different political forms and dynamics as well as their implications for democracy and the rule of law.

Why

Contemporary analyses of states of exception rely almost exclusively on theoretical resources developed by legal scholars that either reduce the state of exception to the law or sovereignty. They thereby inadvertently depoliticize the state of exception and obscures its different political forms and implications. My research project aims to recover and analyse the underlying political dynamics that constitute the discrete political forms of states of exception, as well as their implication for democracy and the rule of law. The proposed project will contribute a novel and distinctly political theory of the state of exception and its different political forms that can help determine how to safeguard democracy in an increasingly uncertain and crisis-ridden world.

How

The project combines political theory with intellectual history and contemporary empirical studies to develop a political theory of the state of exception. It starts from an immanent critique and development of contemporary theories of the state of exception, confronting them with their internal contradictions and historical limitations in order to recover the state of exception's otherwise obscured political foundations and dynamics. This provides the basis for the development of a novel political theory of the state of exception that can differentiate its different political forms, their underlying dynamics and implications.

SSR

Most states have similar legal or practical provisions that allows governments to mobilize exceptional powers in existential crises. However, such states of exception challenge the rule of law and have been linked to democratic backsliding and decline. My project provides a new theoretical vocabulary capable of differentiating and analysing different political forms of the state of exception and their paradoxical relationships to democracy and the rule of law. This can help make sense of contemporary forms of crisis governance and their democratic implications, which is relevant to the public, NGOs and political decision-makers navigating a global pandemic and an evolving climate-crisis.