Infancy and Experience: Voice, Politics, and Bare Life

Oswell, David. 2009. Infancy and Experience: Voice, Politics, and Bare Life. European Journal of Social Theory, 12(1), pp. 135-154. ISSN 1368-4310 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper explores the question of the empirical in the context of its related notion of experience, inasmuch as the latter explicitly brings into play issues about subjectivity. The paper focuses directly on the ideas of the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben concerning infancy and experience, voice and speech, and bare life and politics. In doing so, an argument is made that questions Agamben’s recourse to a particular form of linguistic model and makes evident the limitations that such a model poses for an understanding of significant transformations in modern forms of sovereignty regarding the socio-political articulation of highly domesticated voices. The paper intends to provide some sociological and social theoretical ground for a consideration of the voice of infancy in contemporary forms of biopolitical sovereignty. In doing so, the paper suggests that infancy is more than a figuration of experimentation, inasmuch as its voice (hovering between babble and the comprehensible) may resonate across an empirical domain, which is reconfigured through such a voice (or voices) heard, taken seriously and touching others.

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Agamben, Infancy, Voice, Biopolitics, Sovereignty

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February 2009Published

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Date Deposited:

11 Aug 2009 13:51

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:27

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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