Through the Wire: Relations of Power and Relations of Violence

Véronique Pin-Fat, Jenny Edkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Citations (SciVal)


This article seeks to explore the question, most starkly posed by Giorgio Agamben, of whether sovereign power can be challenged. By deploying readings of Agamben and Foucault that complement and illuminate each other, we propose that although sovereign power remains globally predominant, it is best considered not as a form of power relation but as a relation of violence. By exploring sovereign power in this way, we argue, alongside Agamben, that challenges to it are available in two modes: first, a refusal to draw lines between forms of life; and, secondly, an assumption of bare life. The availability of these forms of challenge is illustrated by examining practices of lip sewing amongst refugees. In the end, the refusal to draw lines and the assumption of bare life seek to reinstate properly political power relations with their accompanying freedoms and potentialities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalMillennium: Journal of International Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005


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