Giorgio Agamben refers to a basic problem in the constitution of the modern nation state: the state as a nation implies that “bare life” becomes the foundation of sovereignty. With the loss of their citizenship, refugees lose not only all their rights, but more fundamentally the “right to have rights” (Arendt). This dilemma of modern statehood does not vanish under conditions of European integration; it is rather re-scaled. Applying a state-theoretical approach to the European border regime, we will concentrate on the two main techniques by which the EU produces “bare life”: the “camp” and the invisible “police state.” It will become apparent that the institutionalization of “the right of every human being to belong to mankind” is still lacking. Yet, in contrast to Agamben, we do not trace this constellation back to the collapse of the concept of human rights, but to hegemonies and power relations.
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