Friday, August 01, 2008

Things Academics Say

Given that I will hopefully be on the academic job market in three years time, and that the names hereunder are pretty significant in the field, I am reserving comment on the following tidbits.

The following sentence is from pages 27-28 of Samuel Huntington's The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. The context is that Huntington is reviewing the literature on the question of whether or not it matters if a country is democratic.
A substantial scholarly literature, for instance, suggests that much public policy is shaped more by a country's level of economic development than by the nature of its regime. Corruption, inefficiency, incompetence, domination by a few special interests are found in all societies no matter what their form of government. One widely read book on comparative politics even begins with the claim that "The most important political distinction among countries concerns not their form of government but their degree of government."

The footnote on the quote from the "widely read book"? Samuel Huntington's
Political Order in Changing Societies.

Moving along, please allow me to reveal to you the title of Alex Wendt's latest (co-authored with Raymond Duvall) article, which is in the latest issue of Political Theory. Ready? Here it is:
Sovereignty and the UFO

Here is the abstract:

Modern sovereignty is anthropocentric, constituted and organized by reference to human beings alone. Although a metaphysical assumption, anthropocentrism is of immense practical import, enabling modern states to command loyalty and resources from their subjects in pursuit of political projects. It has limits, however, which are brought clearly into view by the authoritative taboo on taking UFOs seriously. UFOs have never been systematically investigated by science or the state, because it is assumed to be known that none are extraterrestrial. Yet in fact this is not known, which makes the UFO taboo puzzling given the ET possibility. Drawing on the work of Giorgio Agamben, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida, the puzzle is explained by the functional imperatives of anthropocentric sovereignty, which cannot decide a UFO exception to anthropocentrism while preserving the ability to make such a decision. The UFO can be “known” only by not asking what it is.

The "key words" of the article, picked out for reference/search purposes, are as follows: sovereignty, UFOs, state of exception, undecidability, epistemology of ignorance, Agamben.
Here is a link to a summary of a talk given on their article.


Rabia said...

wasn't Huntingdon a huge fan of Ayub? I don't know if it's true or not but I heard he wrote "Political Order in changing societies" in honour of the 10th anniversary of Ayub's coup

Ahsan said...


I have no idea. It seems highly unlikely, but then again, you never know.