University of Sussex
Layzelle, Luke George.pdf (1.75 MB)

Topologies of abandon: locating life in the philosophy of Giorgio Agamben

Download (1.75 MB)
posted on 2023-06-09, 08:10 authored by Luke George Layzelle
In the forty years separating Stanzas and the recently published final instalment of the Homo Sacer series, The Use of Bodies, Agamben has regularly turned to topological figures in pursuing his critical analyses of the biopolitical horizon of modernity. Topologies of Abandon provides the first sustained analysis of the topological orientation of Agamben’s work, developing an alternative spatial genealogy of a series of key concepts and figures in Agamben’s thinking. The thesis considers a series of conceptual topoi explored by Agamben and argues that his theoretical project consists of a series of interrelated investigations into the configuration of place and localisation: the ontological space of the exception, the location of the subject within language, and the place of life in contemporary configurations of power. In my analysis of each of these topologies I argue against the common conception of Agamben’s work as providing a pessimistic and negative diagnosis of contemporary forms of biopolitical governance from which there exists little hope of emancipation. Paradoxically, the potentiality that marks Agamben’s utopic topos of life is found in the place of an abandonment, and it is by exploring the negative and privative topologies of abandon in Agamben’s work that the thesis seeks to re-orient future readings of the largely misunderstood affirmative dimension of this philosophical project. The thesis provides a comprehensive overview and analysis of Agamben’s use of topological figures throughout his body of work. Considering Agamben’s methodological use of paradigms, signatures, and archaeology from a topological perspective, the thesis reconsiders the relationship between the biopolitical studies of Agamben and Foucault on this basis. The project situates Agamben’s topological interest within the context of a wider critical-philosophical turn to the field in the twentieth-century, showing that Agamben’s work is influenced by the topological current informing philosophies of the lifeworld and the metalogical inquiries of structuralism. The thesis also reconsiders Agamben’s relationship with the thought of his former teacher Heidegger in terms of the two thinkers’ shared interest in a ‘topology of being’. Following the topological thread running throughout Agamben’s oeuvre, I demonstrate how from his earliest works Agamben seeks to map out an affirmative topos of life that perforates the surfaces and limits of its philosophical, juridical, and political determinations.


File Version

  • Published version



Department affiliated with

  • English Theses

Qualification level

  • doctoral

Qualification name

  • phd


  • eng


University of Sussex

Full text available

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Theses)


    No categories selected