The state of exception and the law of the global economy: a conceptual and empirico-legal inquiry
Stimulated by Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s thought-provoking claim that the ‘state of exception’ is becoming the dominant paradigm of government, this article explores what role, if any, the exception plays in the law of the global economy. The article first develops the conceptual lens to examine the complex legal arrangements governing cross-border economic relations. It then examines two examples to assess the explanatory power of the state of exception paradigm in spatially defined sites for the production and export of manufactured goods, and in insulated contractual regimes governing the extraction of natural resources. The findings point to the relevance of debates about the exception to the structuring of transnational economic relations, but in configurations that significantly depart from Agamben’s theories. The findings provide insights for reconceptualising the relationships between rule and exception, between the global and the national, and between territory and sovereignty.