Basel 2018, Presentation #3

State of exception vs. “small administrative exceptions”: the meaning of exceptionality in France after the attacks of 2015

Marie Goupy, Paris

Even if it is becoming more and more common in everyday language, the notion of state of exception has been hardly criticized in the academic field this last decade. A broad field of legal and sociological works has mainly objected that there is no “state of exception” in our liberal States, if the state of exception is understood as a general suspension of Law and a situation of anomy. Against this conception, attributed to Carl Schmitt and Giorgio Agamben, a broad amount of works have showed the proliferation of norms and normative activity in “situations of exception” – such as in Guantanamo or in a context of the fight against terrorism. But why do the notions of exception and exceptionality remains so common, and what do they refer to in such a context of normative proliferation?

Based on a reflection about the application of the “Loi sur l’état d’urgence” in France, after the attacks in 2015, and the integration of its main dispositions in the ordinary Law in 2017, this paper aims to question the meaning of exceptionality today in such an executive-administrative State as the French State. With this reflection about exceptionality, I’ll try to shed some light on the transformation of normativity in liberal States today.

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