Law transformed: Guantanamo and the 'other' exception

Aradau, Claudia (2007). Law transformed: Guantanamo and the 'other' exception. Third World Quarterly, 28(3) pp. 489–501.




Guantanamo Bay is almost unanimously seen as an exceptional space inhabited by 'bare life'. This article unpacks the double rendering of the exception in Carl Schmitt's work and argues that the conceptualisation of the exception in The Nomos of the Earth can help us understand the form of exception that is at work in the 'war on terror'. The nomos as the junction of order and orientation appears as a way of closing off the space of political decision from Schmitt's earlier concept of the political. The constitution of order is no longer dependent upon the sovereign decision on the exception, but upon the division and appropriation of space, upon the geopolitics of uncontested spatialisations and a philosophy of concrete life. Therefore, Guantanamo will be exposed not as a singular and exceptional occurrence, but as symptomatic of the transformation of law. Law is moulded onto the order of what is; it is sustained by the situational characteristics of spaces and people at a distance from the contingency of sovereign decisions.

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