25 Years

An Embodied Leviathan: Conceptualizing Sovereignty through the Provisioning of Ottoman Istanbul

Date: 
Fri, 02/09/2018 - 12:00pm
Event Location: 
Heller Hall 537

Title: An Embodied Leviathan: Conceptualizing Sovereignty through the Provisioning of Ottoman Istanbul   

Candan Turkkan, PhD Candidate,Political Science, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

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Abstract: Through an analysis of Ottoman Istanbul’s provisioning assemblages, this paper challenges Foucault’s reading of classical theories of sovereignty in Society Must Be Defended lectures. Taking Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan as the example par excellence of classical theory of sovereignty, paper instead suggests an alternative conceptualization of sovereign’s prerogative, where the relationship between the sovereign and the subject is established not at the moment when the sovereign can kill the subject, but at every moment when the sovereign has to make sure that the city is provisioned and the subject can sustain his/her life. Thus highlighting the bodily vulnerability as the basis of classical theory of sovereignty, paper reframes the Leviathan as ‘embodied sovereignty’ – a social contract that aims to keep the mutual vulnerabilities of the ruler and the ruled in-check by espousing sultan’s kudret as a political myth, on the one hand, and promising (and delivering) food for the residents of the city, on the other.