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Title: Refiguring the Subaltern
Issue Date: 2018
Citation: Political Theory
Abstract: The subaltern is usually understood today as a figure of exclusion, representing the specular opposite of the citizen. If the citizen is defined by participation in a political community, the subaltern represents a lack of access to institutions of rights and obligations. While citizens are subject to the hegemonic logic of modern sovereignty, the subaltern lies before or beyond it, in some indeterminate zone of affect and habit. Citizenship guarantees inclusion within structures of representation, in both political and aesthetic senses, at the limits of which subalternity begins. The subaltern can thus be understood as a variant of those figures of marginality and exclusion that have marked the borders of modern political thought, from Hobbes’s multitude, Hegel’s Pöbel and Marx’s Proletariat, to contemporary formulations such as Rancière’s “part that has no part” or Agamben’s homo sacer. In this sense, the supposedly unrepresentable subaltern is ultimately represented as the literal incarnation of the principle of exclusion as the foundation of political modernity, and perhaps even of the political as such.
ISSN: 0090-5917
Appears in Collections:Dept of Politics, History and Law Research Papers

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