Sovereignty and Law: Between Ethics and Politics is a four year (2015–2019) Conex Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Project located at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain that undertakes a philosophical inquiry into the meaning of and relationship between the ethical and political spheres of social existence through an analysis of a number of related concepts including sovereignty, law, violence, evil, and foundations. Through a historically-orientated and textually-based methodology, the aim is to show that different conceptions of the ethical-political relationship are possible with each being grounded in a particular semiotic construction that, far from being universal and ahistoric, is culturally specific, created from different power relations, and built to give meaning to reality. By demonstrating the complex interplay between ethics, politics, culture, and semiotics, the project identifies the crucial role that cultural and semiotic structures play in the creation of ethical-political values and frameworks and, in so doing, contributes to our understanding of the ways in which cultures not only create their own defining narratives, but, through these, interact with and understand one another.
The project aims to foster international debate around the question of the ethical-political relationship through the organization of four international conferences— ‘Subjectivity and the Political 2016,’ ‘The Meaning of Violence,’ ‘Rethinking Transformation,’ and ‘Poststructuralism: Past, Present, Future,’ in March 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively—at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and Universidad Complutense de Madrid; the development of standing relationships between other national and international research projects; presentations at national and international conferences; and the publication of a variety of journal articles and book chapters.
These activities will contribute to the completion and publication of six books that will examine various facets of the ethical-political relationship:
(1) Poststructuralist Agency: The Subject in Twentieth-Century Theory (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming) engages with the thought of Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, Butler, Kristeva, and Castoriadis to respond to the long-standing question of whether poststructuralist thought permits a theory of agency capable of permitting individual political action.
(2) Critiquing Sovereign Violence: Law, Biopolitics, Bio–Juridicalism (Edinburgh University Press: 2019) develops three paradigms—from proponents of critical theory, poststructuralism, biopolitics, and deconstruction—through which to analyse recent attempts to re-think the nature of sovereign violence away from its classic-juridical formulation.
(3) Evil in the Western Philosophical Tradition (Edinburgh University Press: 2019) examines the nature and foundation of moral concepts by tracing the various ways in which evil has been conceptualized in the Western philosophical tradition. In so doing, it contributes to the recent return to theology in contemporary critical theory by questioning any straightforward theology-secular opposition.
(4) The Meanings of Violence: From Critical Theory to Biopolitics (Routledge: 2019), edited with Emma Ingala (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), is composed of eleven original essays from scholars located in Belgium, Chile, England, France, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S.A, that explore the different ways in which thinkers belonging to biopolitical theory, critical theory, deconstruction, Marxism, postcolonial theory, poststructuralism, and psychoanalysis, have conceptualized the meaning(s) of violence.
(5) Subjectivity and the Political: Contemporary Perspectives (Routledge: 2018), edited with Emma Ingala (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), is composed of ten original essays from scholars located in institutions in Belgium, Egypt, England, France, Poland, Spain, and the U.S.A, that explore different facets and conceptions of the subjectivity-political relation.
(6) The Problem of Political Foundations in Carl Schmitt and Emmanuel Levinas (Palgrave Macmillan: 2016) explores the problem of political foundations by comparing and contrasting the political theologies of Carl Schmitt and Emmanuel Levinas.
The project is co-funded by the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration under Grant Agreement 600371, The Spanish Ministry of the Economy and Competitivity (COFUND2013-40258), The Spanish Ministry for Education, Culture, and Sport (CEI-15-17), and Banco Santander.