When: Thursday, 27 April, 1:00pm-2:00pm.
Where: Room 247, Unioninkatu 33 Building. You can also join us online via the Zoom link below: https://helsinki.zoom.us/j/67230008219?pwd=WC84dmNZQ0Q3aW10WGgxUTgzK1R4…
Meeting ID: 672 3000 8219
The Controversy about the State of Emergency in France: A Case for Critical Conjuncture
Between 2015 and 2022, the state of emergency remained in force in France for four years out of seven. Its gradual routinization spurred a fervent political and intellectual debate. Public thinkers, professors, lawyers, and other civil society actors discussed the relevance, legitimacy, and costs of using extraordinary measures to tackle terrorism or the COVID-19 pandemic. The scope of the controversy reached far beyond the sole legal measures and their efficiency and involved a critical examination of the self-image of French society. It prompted what I call a “critical conjuncture”: a context that favoured the formulation of general narratives on the politics and state in contemporary France. In my presentation, I will approach the debate about the state of emergency as a reflexive practice through which a society takes itself for an object of inquiry. Emergencies challenge the way we conceptualize basic political notions and make them appear as openly conflicting. How can a democratic society defend itself from terrorism without disowning its liberal-democratic nature? What means of crisis management are unacceptable, whatever the cost of renouncing them may be? To surpass the dissonance brought about by exceptional circumstances, the exact sense and hierarchy between values and principles that a society claims to be honouring have to be made explicit. This, as I argue, makes the narratives on states of emergency a fruitful field of inquiry into the political imagery of a given society.