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Agamben and the Politics of Human RightsStatelessness, Images, Violence$
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John Lechte and Saul Newman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748645725

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748645725.001.0001

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Agamben, the Image and the Human

Agamben, the Image and the Human

(p.139) Chapter 7 Agamben, the Image and the Human
Agamben and the Politics of Human Rights

John Lechte

Saul Newman

Edinburgh University Press

What is the precise relation of Agamben's and Guy Debord's notion of the image? But, even more, what is an image and how does it relate to the human? These are the guiding questions of this chapter. It is shown that the image is ubiquitous in today's society, but that there is little appreciation of the exact nature of the image. Agamben himself is ambivalent: at one point, he sees the image in Debord as the revelation of mediality; at another, he appears to support the transparency of the image when referring to the Muselmann of the camps. More generally, the image can be understood in pragmatic terms as: 1) Forensic (used as evidence); 2) as an icon (synecdoche, or part standing for the whole); 3) metonymy (celebrities linked to refugees by association). Each is important, but it is necessary to go beyond these, if the link is to be grasped between the image and the human. In this context, ultimately, an image is not an object, nor is the human. The chapter looks, in addition, at the image and violence, Agamben's analysis of the Muselmann and the image and the political.

Keywords:   Debord, gesture, human, image, mediality, Muselmann, violence, society of the spectacle

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