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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

16 - Beyond Sovereignty

from Part IV - Writing Human Rights


Vulnerability theory, which identifies embodied vulnerability as the primary definition of human being, addresses some of the concerns and exclusions of other universalist definitions of the human. Social theorists and political philosophers have moved away from conceptions of the human grounded in various capacities, for example, to reason or to labor, and instead to vulberability. But vulnerability theory carries its own risks, insofar as precarious social and political structures can render vulnerable embodiment into abject victimhood, in opposition to, and in need of protection by, state power. This chapter conducts a close reading of Slahi’s Guantánamo Diary (2015) to show how literature can imagine alternate possibilities for vulnerability and security as well as the types of political community by which they are generated.