Theoretical Impact

This symposium begins with an argument that Tangier is a space of exception. To arrive at this argument, we begin with Giorgio Agamben’s concept of “states of exception;” Agamben postulates that a crisis or an emergency – as it is defined by and declared by a government – is a mechanism by which that same government can increase its own power. In other words, his work shows that true power consists of the ability to create the exception.[1]

Departing from Agamben, we argue that a state of exception (imagined as temporal) can become territorialized into a space (imagined as geographical) and that Tangier is a case study of this process. The various panelists participating in “100 Years in Tangier: 1923-2023” will collaboratively trace the evolution of Tangier’s status as exceptional over the course of the last century. 

The theoretical impact of a working framework for unpacking how geographies are exceptionalized will be applicable to a variety of fields (both in and outside of the Humanities). These theories could inform policy decisions for a swath of other exceptional spaces: i.e., the border, the frontier, detention centers, and refugee camps.


[1] See State of Exception (2003), University of Chicago Press, inspired by Agamben’s observations of democracy after September 11th, 2001. Per Agamben, states of exception have underpinned the logic of authoritarian impulses ranging from Germany’s Third Reich to George W. Bush’s decision to imprison “enemy combatants” at Guantánamo Bay without trial.

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