Giorgio Agamben: The Power and the Glory

The 11th B.N. Ganguli Memorial Lecture was delivered by Giorgio Agamben on ‘The Power and the Glory’ on 11 January 2007 at CSDS. The lecture investigated the reasons and the modalities through which power has taken in western societies the form of an ‘economy’, that is to say of a government of men and things. It resumed Michel Foucault’s enquiries in the genealogy of governance, but, at the same time, attempted to locate this genealogy in a different context, in the beginning of Christian theology. It showed that from Christian theology two paradigms derive: the political theology, that grounds in the one God the transcendence of sovereign power, and the economical theology, which bases itself on the notion of an ‘oikonomia’, conceived as an immanent order (domestic and not properly political) of both human and divine life. The first paradigm is juridical, and will give birth to the modern theory of sovereignty; the second one is managerial, and will give rise to modern biopolitics up to the present domination of economy and management on all aspects of social life. The lecture articulated in detail that the theological economy has functioned as the very paradigm of modern governance, and that the economic and governmental vocation of modern democracies has roots in this theological legacy.

B.N. Ganguli Memorial Lectures are instituted in memory of the distinguished economist Professor B.N. Ganguli, former Chair, CSDS Board of Governors. Earlier speakers in the series include Professors Charles Taylor, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Raimundo Panikkar, Bhikhu Parekh, Ernest Gellner, Ali Mazrui, Roberto Unger, Michael Walzer, John Keane and Amit Bhaduri.

Thursday, 11 January 2007
CSDS Seminar Room