Giorgio Agamben

"One day humanity will play with law just as children play with disused objects, not in order to restore them to their canonical use but to free them from it for good. What is found after the law is not a more proper and original use value that precedes the law, but a new use that is born after it. And use, which has been contaminated by law, must also be freed from its own value. This liberation is the task of study, or play."

from State of Exception

Giorgio Agamben (born 1942) is an Italian philosopher

Born in 1942,

Giorgio Agamben holdings at Beinecke

The Giorgio Agamben Papers is comprised of material created and compiled by the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben. Spanning the period from the mid-1960s to ca. 2016, the archive documents the research, teaching, and lecturing activity of a leading contemporary European intellectual and scholar. 

The collection consists of writings by Agamben, correspondence with distinguished figures of the postwar intelligentsia, including Claude Levi-Strauss, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy and Guy Debord; documents relating to the Italian student protest movement "La Pantera" (1990); documents relating to Agamben's protest resignation from his appointment as Distinguished Professor at New York University; unpublished manuscripts and correspondence by the German philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), including letters; notes and manuscripts relating to Agamben's work on Benjamin.

Writings by Agamben comprise annotated manuscripts of books published between 1982 and 2015, including research material and drafts; annotated manuscripts of articles and essays published between 1978 and 2004, including notes and supporting material; manuscripts of published and unpublished lectures held between 1977 and 2015 in Italian, French or English; annotated manuscripts of courses taught at American, French or Italian universities between 1987 and 2014; manuscripts, notebooks and journals related to unfinished projects by Agamben (1970-2016); manuscripts of Agamben's writings on Walter Benjamin.

The archive has not yet been catalogued. Please contact the curator for more information.The archive is in Italian, French and English.

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Biography of Giorgio Agamben

IGiorgio Agamben was born in Rome, Italy on April 22, 1942. He pursued post-secondary studies in law and philosophy at the University of Rome, which he concluded in 1965 with a thesis on the political thought of the French philosopher and social revolutionary Simone Weil. As a postdoctoral scholar, Agamben participated in Martin Heidegger's 1966 and 1968 seminars on Heraclitus and Hegel. Apart from Heidegger, the works of Walter Benjamin, Aby Warburg, Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault would become crucial influences for Agamben's trajectory as a thinker of contemporary political life.

Giorgio Agamben received wide-ranging international attention for his multi-volume project entitled Homo sacer, which was published between 1995 and 2016.  

Giorgio Agamben held professorships at the Italian Universities of Macerata and Verona and, until his retirement in 2009, at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura in Venise. He held visiting appointments at German universities (Duesseldorf and Cologne) as well as at American institutions (UC Berkeley, Northwestern University). He also taught at the College international de philosophie in Paris.

The Homo Sacer Project