Hannah Arendt’s International Agonism

Korean Review of Political Thought [정치사상연구] 27 (2):215-244 (2021)
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Hannah Arendt’s fierce critique of sovereignty, along with her excavation of Greek agonism, has gained much traction among critical theorists of international politics who revisit the basic assumptions of conventional international theories, such as state sovereignty and power as domination. This paper engages with an increasingly popular stream within such critical international studies that appropriates Arendt’s agonism to envision a form of a global public acting in concert. I argue that Arendt’s thoughts cannot be reduced to a radical vision of agonistic cosmo-politics. Rather, her thinking suggests that political actors appreciate and care for their public worlds while remaining alert to institutional ossification. Her appreciation of the constitutional state confirms that state agency is an important element of her thoughts. By examining the vicissitudes of publicity found in Arendt’s thinking and their reflexive effect on inter-polity relations, the article elucidates the grounds of her international agonism and brings home a form of international politics where states pursuing the domestic goal of greatness coexist and cooperate. Thus, the study suggests that critical scholars of radical agonism miss the important implications of an “institutional” Arendt for international politics.



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Shinkyu Lee
Oberlin College

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References found in this work

The wretched of the earth.Frantz Fanon - 1998 - In Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze (ed.), African Philosophy: An Anthology. Blackwell. pp. 228--233.
The Reluctant Modernism of Hannah Arendt.Seyla Benhabib - 1996 - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics.Bonnie Honig - 1993 - Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

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