In Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Giorgio Agamben famously defines sacred life as a life that can be killed but not sacrificed. Insofar as the sacredness of life consists in being the originary form of the inclusion of bare life (or natural, biological life as such) in the juridical order, it is taken as the expression of a set of topological relations implicit within the structure of sovereignty. The body of the sovereign and the body of homo sacer are endlessly exchangeable in a topological process. Especially in his later work, Lacan’s hypotheses concerning the Borromean structure (R,S,I) and its knotting demonstrate the strict equivalence between topology and structure. To speak of structure is, according to him, to constitute a topology. But what is finally called topology, how does it envisage space, and what topology is valid for a body? What do recent developments in topology allow us to posit? By focusing on Lacan’s play with the Borromean knot and Agamben’s concept of homo sacer, Yusin strives to reveal and challenge the subject inherently valued by the structure of sovereignty that continues to inscribe itself in philosophical and psychoanalytic discourse alike.
Jennifer Yusin is an associate professor in the Department of English and Philosophy at Drexel University. She is the author of The Future Life of Trauma, which is forthcoming (spring 2017) from Fordham University Press. Her writings may be found in Textual Practice, Culture, Theory, and Critique, and The Journal of Contemporary Literature, among others. Currently, she is working on a critique of the category of the symbolic, especially as it appears in the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss and Jacques Lacan. Her talk will take place on February 9 in Tribble Hall, A108.