Throughout his philosophical, political, exegetical, and aesthetic writings, Giorgio Agamben refers ceaselessly to the concept of potentiality. Only if we understand this concept, and the peculiar status it has for the definition of the human, will we be able to forge a new politics. It is through humanity's potential not to realize its proper being—evidenced both in the horrors of the death camp and in the fall of art from its proper essence—that we also understand what humanity ought to be. This essay argues that Agamben's appeal to potentiality harbors a normative and gendered image of life.

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