An Archaeology of the Political

Regimes of Power from the Seventeenth Century to the Present

Elías José Palti

Columbia University Press

An Archaeology of the Political

Pub Date: April 2020

ISBN: 9780231179935

264 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $26.00£22.00

Pub Date: March 2017

ISBN: 9780231179928

264 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $60.00£50.00

Pub Date: March 2017

ISBN: 9780231542470

264 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $25.99£22.00

An Archaeology of the Political

Regimes of Power from the Seventeenth Century to the Present

Elías José Palti

Columbia University Press

In the past few decades, much political-philosophical reflection has been dedicated to the realm of "the political." Many of the key figures in contemporary political theory—Jacques Rancière, Alain Badiou, Reinhart Koselleck, Giorgio Agamben, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj Žižek, among others—have dedicated themselves to explaining power relations, but in many cases they take the concept of the political for granted, as if it were a given, an eternal essence.

In An Archaeology of the Political, Elías José Palti argues that the dimension of reality known as the political is not a natural, transhistorical entity. Instead, he claims that the horizon of the political arose in the context of a series of changes that affirmed the power of absolute monarchies in seventeenth-century Europe and was successively reconfigured from this period up to the present. Palti traces this series of redefinitions accompanying alterations in regimes of power, thus describing a genealogy of the concept of the political. Perhaps most important, An Archaeology of the Political brings to theoretical discussions a sound historical perspective, illuminating the complex influences of both theology and secularization on our understanding of the political in the contemporary world.
Elías Palti's book is one of the most original interpretations of the political (as opposed to politics) in many years. His conceptual history is a longue durée account of practices of representation of the divine, the sovereign, the people, war, and the search for a basic unity of the world. As we consider whether we have come to the end of this long quest, this book can be read as the story of our journey. Jeremy I. Adelman, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History and Director of the Global History Lab at Princeton University
A tour de force. Palti's concise conceptual history of 'the political' dethrones our most cherished ideas about what political modernity is and where it came from. Mark Thurner, Institute of Latin American Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London
This is a key book that fills significant gaps in the scholarship of the long conceptual history of the political. Federico Finchelstein, The New School for Social Research
Palti's book is the best expression of the need to reconsider theology in light of its historical link to the Baroque. María Pía Lara, Universidad Autonoma de Mexico
At a time when confidence in virtually all traditional modes of governance is rapidly eroding, the historical roots of our current dilemma have to be exposed before any prospect can exist of viable solutions. In this bold and ambitious survey of Western political theory and practice since the 17th century, which draws its lessons from European and Latin American history, as well as baroque and modern art, Elias Palti provides a ruthlessly incisive analysis of the sources of our unfolding crisis. An Archaeology of the Political exemplifies the power of conceptual history at its best not only to illuminate the past, but also perhaps light the way a better future. Martin E. Jay, University of California, Berkeley
In presenting a genealogy of the political [Palti] presents a broad but disturbing panorama to reflect upon the immense political challenges facing the contemporary world. Priscila Dorella, Society for U.S. Intellectual History
The author of the book under review, Elias Palti, is one of Latin America’s most theoretical and philosophically oriented historians. In this short but expansive book, he . . . argues convincingly that the concept’s referent emerged as an empirical reality in Europe during the seventeenth century, alongside the rise of absolute monarchies. Claudio Lomnitz, Hispanic American Historical Review
Series Editor's Foreword, by Dick Howard
Acknowledgments
Introduction: A Conceptual History of the Political—the Archaeological Project
1. The Theological Genesis of the Political
2. The Tragic Scene: The Symbolic Nature of Power and the Problem of Expression
3. The Discourse of Emancipation and the Emergence of Democracy as a Problem: The Latin American Case
4. The Rebirth of the Tragic Scene and the Emergence of the Political as a Conceptual Problem
Conclusion: The End of a Long Cycle—the Second Disenchantment of the World
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Elías José Palti is principal researcher for the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (Argentina), a professor at both the Universidad Nacional de Quilmes and the Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires, and the director of the Center for Intellectual History at the National University of Quilmes. He is a 2009 Guggenheim Fellow and the author of ten books in Spanish and many articles in different languages.