Supporting the analysis summarised in this kappa are four separate research articles. Article 1 situates the thesis in the current academic debate. It reads the meaning afforded to hope politically and analytically in critical studies of the post 9/11 US security apparatus. The article ends with a call to treat hope not as an analytical concept, but as a biopolitical technology, one which is central to practices and discourses of security. Articles 2-4 attempt to answer this call, offering a biopolitical analysis of the use of hope in US security discourse of the Obama administration. The analyses performed in the re- spective articles, have enabled this kappa to discuss this use in relation to three central facets of Agambenian biopolitics: the suspension of language and political voice (article 2), the suspension of time and of political agency (article 3) and the suspension of political belonging and permanent exposure to death (article 4).
19 Article 1, “Reading the War on Terror Through Fear and Hope? Affective Warfare and the Question of the Future”,13 analyses how hope and fear has been employed in critical analyses of contemporary practices of security, represented in the article by critical strands of affect theory as well as of Derridean deconstruction. It concludes that the analytical distinction between hope and fear that these accounts offer reproduces both the temporal structure of promise enacted by authoritative discourses of the War on Terror as well as the political terminology and distinctions informing such discourses.
Article 2, “The Unknowing Subject of Radicalisation: US Counterterr- orism Communications and the Biopolitics of Hope”,14 analyses the biopolit- ical use of hope by US counterterrorism communications to combat the ‘hate’ that US security discourse claims to be disseminated by the ‘ideology of violent extremism’. Tracing the definition of hope that informs these practic- es, the article makes visible a paradoxical form of hope that while held as open to an unknown future, functions to govern the future’s coming into presence. The article argues that the use of hope by US counterterrorism communications is constitutive of a postmodern subject, whose ability to articulate concrete utopian visions of the future is actively and continuously disrupted. Such visions are associated by US counterterrorism communica- tions only with violence and exclusion. It is further argued that while the use of hope aims to create an unknowing and hopeful subject open to the future, the form of governance that informs these practices is more akin to Agam- ben’s theory of the state of exception. What characterises this form of politics is not hope, as it is commonly conceived, but an indistinction between hope, fear and hate. The article engages literature of radicalisation, strategic com- munication as well as poststructural theories of hope.
Article 3, “Recognising Hope: US Global Development Discourse and the Promise of Despair”,15 traces the distinction between hope and despair that is
central in the Obama administration’s development discourse. It analyses hope’s proclaimed ability to render despair – and poverty – a condition less threatening to neoliberal life. Emerging from this reading is the identification of hope’s temporal structure as it is actualised in this discourse: an amnesiac hope that works to revise the past rather than to build the future. This tem- poral structure is explicitly discussed in relation to Agamben’s definition of both the state of exception and of potentiality. The form of life that the use of
13Published 2013 in Political Perspectives 7(2): 85-105. Special issue: Unfolding the Political:
Voices of aesthetics and emotions, guest edited by Emmy Eklundh and Rachel Massey.
14This article has been invited to be part of a special issue on “Hope as a Technology of Devel-
opment”, guest edited by Marjo Lindroth and Heidi Sinevaara-Niskanen. Tentative journal: International Political Sociology.
hope aims to produce is identified as similar to the idealised figure of the neoliberal subject, whom is encouraged to not perceive despair as the oppo- site of hope, but as its condition of possibility. The article engages literature within the fields of critical development studies and post-development.
Article 4, “Hope in a Time of Catastrophe? Resilience and the Future in Bare Life”,16 takes a broader look, focusing not only on the distinction be-
tween fear and hope in US security discourse, but also on the overarching relation between security and hope that this discourse is productive of. By analysing Obama’s Nobel lecture, it argues that through hope, life becomes both permanently vulnerable and dangerous. The distinction between fear and hope, as well as that between war and peace that initially appears to support the use of hope within US security discourse is thus dissolved. The article analyses the production of hopeful life through Agamben’s notion of the sovereign ban, explicitly probing the relation between hopeful life and the figure of the homo sacer, a bare life able to be killed, yet not sacrificed (1998: 85). The article interrogates critical literature on resilience.