While exclusion from law is often assumed to be an historical phenomenon, the discussion here argues that it is an enduring and important tactic of state power. Such exclusion can occur in two directions – exclusion above the law (as where the state licenses itself or its agents to act with impunity) or exclusion below the law (as where the state excludes an individual or group from the law's protection). This book concerns itself with both, and in doing so, offers readings from two bodies of literature in English not normally read in tandem – the literature of outlawry, and the literature of espionage. This Introduction briefly surveys some influential previous work in this area – in particular Eric Hobsbawm’s notion of the ‘social bandit’ and Giorgio Agamben’s idea of the homo sacer and his related study of the ‘state of exception’ – and sets out the argument to follow.
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