Event Date: 14 June 2011
Royal Holloway, University of London
2 Gower Street
London WC1E 6DP
NOMOS: Carl Schmitt & his Interlocutors
An interdisciplinary Workshop
The concept of nomos has emerged as a key category in Carl Schmitt’s work in recent years receiving comment in political theory, legal studies, geography and international relations. Schmitt’s account of nomos as the fundamental relation between ‘order and orientation’, law and space, has taken its place alongside the other concepts commonly associated with his name: the political, the enemy and the sovereign exception. This growing interest in Schmitt’s nomos can be accounted for in part by the English translation of his 1950 masterwork The Nomos of the Earth (2003) and Giorgio Agamben’s use of the term in his influential Homo Sacer series. Likewise the return to questions of ‘world order’ in the wake of the 911 attacks, the ‘war on terror’ and the apparent faltering of neoliberal capital appear to have given the concept an added relevance to the political concerns of the present. Despite this growth of interest there has not been significant or sustained critical attention given to the concept itself and the role it plays in Schmitt’s work, that of other thinkers or the broader questions it bares upon. This workshop aims to approach the concept of nomos as the lens through which to understand the relationship between political ordering, spatiality and history that underlies Schmitt’s thought. By focusing on nomos it is hoped that fundamental questions regarding the nature of Schmitt’s geopolitics, his philosophy of history and political theology and their relationship to both his politics and the ontological groundings of his work can be examined more closely.
By approaching Schmitt’s nomos through the work of some of those thinkers who have engaged in explicit or implicit dialogue with his concept it is hoped that it can be located within wider philosophical and political debates. Each of the speakers will address Schmitt’s conception of nomos in relation to the way it has been used within another author’s, or set of authors’, work. The manner in which the concept has been employed by Hannah Arendt, Giorgio Agamben and Deleuze and Guattari will be set in comparison with Schmitt’s use. The aim is to tease out the theoretical and political
significance of the different spatial ontologies and political orientations that might underlie the work of these thinkers by examining the role nomos plays in their thought. In examining the points of convergence and divergence in how nomos has been figured in their work its relation to other important concepts such as the political, becoming, gathering and biopolitics can be investigated.
It is hoped that these discussions will open on to important debates within and Continental political philosophy and shed critical light on the reception, appropriation and application of Schmitt’s work in contemporary thought in fields such as geography, critical legal studies, political theory and international relations.