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Postcolonial AsylumSeeking Sanctuary Before the Law$
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David Farrier

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781846314803

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846317132

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Allow Me My Destitution

Allow Me My Destitution

Chapter:
(p.124) Chapter 4 Allow Me My Destitution
Source:
Postcolonial Asylum
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/UPO9781846317132.006

This chapter explores the extent to which Giorgio Agamben's theories provide modes of resistance to sovereign power in the asylum regime by focusing on strategies of reading textual and epitextual worlds along with the related issues of response and responsibility. After considering J. Hillis Miller's notion that ethical reading is inherently parasitic, the chapter offers a reading of Herman Melville's 1853 short story ‘Bartleby’. When read alongside the writing and narratives of asylum seekers, ‘Bartleby’ shows that the presuppositional basis of the law in the ban can be disrupted by a practice of assuming the status of bare life.

Keywords:   Giorgio Agamben, asylum, response, responsibility, J. Hillis Miller, ban, Herman Melville, Bartleby, law, asylum seekers

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