This essay presents a critical engagement with Giorgio Agamben's conception of “bare life.” Central to the argument is that bareness is produced, and therefore, that which is produced as “bare life” is always marked in advance by the process. What this means is that bareness cannot escape the mark of particularity. This has important implications for how concepts such as sovereignty are understood. The limits of Agamben's position are to be found in the ontological presuppositions that underlie it. In order to counter the inability of Agamben's position to deal with problems of practicality, a relational ontology is proposed as an alternative. The essay centers on Agamben's discussion of the animal and the Jew in the context of his books The Open and Homo Sacer.

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