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Philosophy Today

Volume 63, Issue 2, Spring 2019

Sabeen Ahmed
Pages 293-314

From Death Penalty to Thanatopolitics
Notes Towards a Trinitarian Theory of Governmentality

Drawing from the works of Carl Schmitt, Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben, and Jacques Derrida, this article offers a theory of political theology for the contemporary Western liberal nation-state. Taking as its starting point the death penalty, it presents a triune theory of governance—what I call Trinitarian Governmentality—which exposes the thanatopolitical dimension fundamental to the very articulation of sovereign power and, as such, the theologico-political. It is thus only by conceptualizing sovereignty as Trinitarian Governmentality—composed of biopower/oikonomia, disciplinary power/theologia, and pastoral power/eschatologia—that we can begin to address Derrida’s central question: how might we theorize a properly philosophical abolitionism for the present?

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