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Poverty as an Everyday State of Exception


Julie A. Nice


University of San Francisco - School of Law

January 1, 2011

ACCUMULATING INSECURITY: VIOLENCE AND DISPOSSESSION IN THE MAKING OF EVERYDAY LIFE, pp. 67-110, Shelley Feldman, Charles Geisler, and Gayatri A. Menon, eds., University of Georgia Press, February 2011
Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2011-26

Abstract:     
This essay applies the provocative theory of Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben to Poverty Law. It is forthcoming as a book chapter in a multidisciplinary volume of papers exploring the relations between accumulation and insecurity. Professor Nice distills Agamben's theory of the state of exception, that the dominant paradigm of modern democracy is founded on the state's power to exclude from rights those who are otherwise included within the political order. Professor Nice posits that the state's abandonment of poor people exemplifies an everyday example of the state of exception. She illustrates how poor people lack meaningful constitutional protection, legal entitlement, policy consideration, and political mobilization, and she argues they are left to eke out a meager subsistence that brings Agamben's image of the "bare life" into stark relief. While broadly summarizing the state of Poverty Law, Professor Nice offers specific details regarding how economic justice has been made "unintelligible," culling from constitutional jurisprudence, legislative and policy analysis, and law and society scholarship. She concludes that the bare life of poverty is the result of this overall dialogic default on the question of economic justice, and suggests that a demand for rights may be the only way out (or in).

Number of Pages in PDF File: 45

Keywords: Poverty Law, Economic Justice, Giorgio Agamben

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Date posted: January 15, 2011 ; Last revised: October 9, 2011

Suggested Citation

Nice, Julie A., Poverty as an Everyday State of Exception (January 1, 2011). ACCUMULATING INSECURITY: VIOLENCE AND DISPOSSESSION IN THE MAKING OF EVERYDAY LIFE, pp. 67-110, Shelley Feldman, Charles Geisler, and Gayatri A. Menon, eds., University of Georgia Press, February 2011; Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2011-26. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1739328

Contact Information

Julie A. Nice (Contact Author)
University of San Francisco - School of Law ( email )
2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States
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