States of Exemption Response

In the lecture the statement was made that hospitals, casinos, sporting venues and college campuses are all considered by definition to be states of exemption and camps in their totalizing rule over someone.  While I can buy that some of these places are camps I think they go way to far in crediting camps with the creation of cities and their definition of camp runs counter to Agamben’s thesis.  In his writing Agamben defines the camp as a place where bare life and judicial law are intermingled, indistinguishable and inseparable from one another.  If we are to understand that the juxtaposition of bare life-of zoe- and law as the try definition of the term camp it is completely illogical to compare gated communities to camps.  In a gated community your health is not at stake, your bios may be but your health is in no way at risk in the lifestyle mantra prescribed by organizations such as colleges, gated communities or sporting venues.  It is true that all these places enact rules but it would be false to put them past the threshold of biopolitics.  This threshold is crossed by hospitals, where things like abortion and assisted suicide or artificial life preservation are all things regulated by the state.  The example of the casino was brought up and I will agree with it as a structured place but the only thing within that structure where health is in jeopardy is in the lack of adherence to the statewide smoking ban.

We have to remember what the definition of a camp is in order to classify (and then change) what are acting as camps. If you’re going to redefine camps as places where bios is controlled and regulated you need to make that distinction away from Agamben’s definition to structure your argument.


About mhgoblue

Architecture Undergrad University of Michigan

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