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DSPO 2490A - Sovereign Power and Violence - from Territory to Population and Sexuality

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

Violence stands at the root of implementation of sovereign power over territories and populations. Since Hobbes' classic treatise, Leviathan, classical formulations of sovereignty have been revisited and considerably reformulated. The authority of the sovereign had expanded to subsume not only control over territorial units, but over populations and their sexuality. Thus, the definitive violent prerogative of the sovereign, namely, the power over life and death, gave way to a range of sovereign entities who took up the mantle effecting changes to its subjects' lives in a variety of coercive and pervasive methods. Over the course, this process of conceptual unshackling will be explored through a critical reading of canonical and contemporary texts on violence and sovereignty. The course's structure offers a circumspect, accumulative approach to the discussion on sovereignty and violence.


MADAR, Revital (Etudiante à Sciences Po)

Course validation

Presentation - 25% Midterm paper - 25% Final paper -30% Weekly commentary on mandatory readings - 10% Participation - 10% In their final paper, students will be required to analyze the interplay of violence and sovereignty in a specific historical case study based on one or more of the theoretical contributions explored in class.

Required reading

  • Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.
  • Arendt, H. (1970). On Violence. USA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Benjamin, W. (1986). Critique of Violence. In P. Demetz (Ed.), Reflections: essays, aphorisms, autobiographical writing. USA: Schocken Books.
  • Derrida, J. (1992). Force of Law: The Mystical Foundations of Authority". In B. N. C. S. of Law (Ed.), Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice. London, Uk: Psychology Press.
  • Foucault, M. (1978). The History of Sexuality: An Introduction. (Hurley, Robert Trans.). USA: Random House.

Additional required reading

Agamben, G. (1998). Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. (Heller-Roazen, Daniel, Trans.).