Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Religious Studies

First Advisor

Carl Raschke, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Luis Leon

Third Advisor

Thomas Nail


Disruption, Exclusion, Homo sacer, Political, Race


The body of this thesis is framed around Carl Schmitt's articulation of the political as the distinction between friend and enemy; more importantly, though, it revolves around opposition as the necessary foundation of the political. Making use of Derrida and

Agamben, this particular argument critiques/radicalizes Schmitt's notion.

After establishing the necessary limits and boundaries at play in the binary opposite embedded within Schmitt's understanding of the political, this essay aims to level a certain generative critique of Schmitt's definition. A certain appropriation of Agamben's homo sacer reveals that the presence of those bound up in the fate of the state who have no legitimate say in the formation of that state itself. An examination of a certain genealogy of the African-American identity reveals the reality of such aporiatic figures. The figure of the homo sacer--i.e. a particular black body in this context--stands as an exception to Schmitt's clean definition, thereby revealing the inevitability of the coming of what Derrida refers to as the `third.'

This new category of abjectness must be accounted for in the construction of the political; the reality and presence of the figure of abjectness demands that a reconceptualization of the political take place. The question of the political, then, is inherently a question of value, and in the American context, the figure of the African- American body exists as the homo sacer: a figure whose fate is determined by the state, but one who has no say in the process.

Publication Statement

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Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Zachary Thomas Settle

File size

57 p.

File format