Resistance and Counter-Zones of Indistinction

Resistance and Counter-Zones of Indistinction

Funda Çoban (Izmir Democracy University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/IJPAE.2021070103
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Agamben's concept, zone of indistinction, defines politically constructed, ambiguous time-space settings that are built by the sovereign, declaring the state of emergency, transforming the subjects into homo sacer. In this sense, a zone of indistinction is the space reproducing dominance and hierarchy. However, Agamben's analysis developed around this concept skips the reality of resistance zones which can be constructed by micro agents suspending the quasi-objective time-and-space settings organized in everyday-life practices. From this point of critical view, the article proposes a new concept, counter-zones of indistinction, which follows Agamben's analytical agenda from the side of non-dominant power relations. Thus, the article explains counter-zones of indistinction while it also analyzes the differences among counter-public spaces, heterotopias to make clear the conceptual boundaries. Hence, the article aims to contribute to Agamben's well-known study on the zone of indistinction.
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Struggle for the political field (Çoban, 2015) categorized under the umbrella name of conflict theory presupposes that the agents, groups, and institutions conflict to maximize their different interests, expectations, and demands. While various actor groups struggle for political positions to expand their unique chances and capacities, the conflict among the actors gains an ontological dimension through the modes of time and space (Çoban, 2015). Thus, the struggle for field turns out to be a clash between the hegemonic (especially Sovereign) power relations and the ruled people for the sake of disciplining, coordinating, controlling, and expanding the current time-space settings. The logical continuation of this rift divides the ontological character of time and space into two: objective time and space via subjective time and space. In a sociological categorization, the subjective time-space settings are the ontological tools of micro-level-actors (such as individuals, local organizations) while the objective time-space settings are macro-level-structures’ (such as state, culture, economy) means. Here, the micro and macro-level-actors claim their own temporal and spatial domains which give an ontological/phenomenological dimension to the political field. Considering this ontological struggle, what determines the political content of the related conflict is the intensity of the clash (Schmitt, 2005). In other words, the concept, political appears where and when the struggle for the field intensifies. The liminal criterion of political in terms of Schmitt (1996) is the struggle for time and space.

One step ahead of Schmitt, Agamben’s description of Sovereign also contributes to the definition of the political. Because, his approach stresses the capacity and power of the Sovereign to declare the State of Exception, which is mainly based on the ambiguity between friend-enemy distinctions in Schmitt’s terms (Agamben, 2005). However, if the Sovereign, as Agamben has pointed out (1998, 2005), is the machine reproducing the State of Exception, then it is possible to claim that the hegemonic exceptionality produces its own objective time and space settings. In other words, the zone of indistinction set by the will of the Sovereign, namely camp can be considered as a phenomenological field, which is manipulated and operated by the hegemonic power.

However, Agamben’s study on State of Exception considers the issue from only one side, namely from the side of domination and hegemony. If it is true that political is the key concept, which is supposed to be thought in terms of time and space settings, then it is also essential to determine and analyze the capacities and the practices of the micro-level actors to transform the forms of temporal and spatial power relations. In this sense, this article attends to indicate thephenomenological fields, which can be called, counter-zones of indistinction by reference to Agamben’s terminology and, claims there are some resistance strategies embedded in everyday life practices constructing counter-states of exception at some subjective space-time intersections.

For deepening the argument, the article consists of three levels. At the first level, it gives a short brief of Agamben’s initial terms about the State of Exception and explains his theoretical framework’s essentials. The following section reviews the theoretical boundaries of counter-public spaces and heterotopias to clarify the analytical ground of counter-zones of indistinction. Thus, the section asserts the conceptualization of counter-zones of indistinction is a conceptual need rather than being a neologism. Finally, the last part classifies the practical ideal forms of those domains. In this regard, it makes the categorization of resistance practices produced in everyday life by micro-level-actors, determining, changing, and, blurring the boundaries of time and space according to the subjective time and space criteria.

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