Anarchist Studies Network

A PSA Specialist Group for the Study of Anarchism.

Announcements

ASN members secure £250k research grant from the ESRC. See here

Rowman & Littlefield Int publish two book series by ASN members Saul Newman and Ruth Kinna

garen.jpg

Dr. Garen Karapetyan

  • e-mail: <kek AT IGNORETHIS aber DOT ac DOT uk>

  • tel: ++44 (0)1970-636884

Background

I was born in Soviet Armenia (Yerevan), grew up in Soviet Moscow, then immigrated to Greece (which is my home now). I have also lived in Cyprus for 5 years, and England for 4 years, and now I'm in Wales (for the last 5 years). Succinctly put, a true internationalist, or, as Sophocles would call me "Anarkhos". Parallel to my physical journey was my journey of ideas: from anti-Sovietchik-inspired Liberalism, to Marxism-Leninism, to a brief flirtation with Trotskyism, and finally to Anarcho-Syndicalism (with poststructural-anarchism as the principal underlying theory and analytical tool).

I received my BA in Economics and International Politics from University of Keele in 2000, and my PhD in International Politics from University of Wales, Aberystwyth in 2004 (where I also used to teach).

My research is located in International Relations theory, Poststructuralist Anarchism and History of Ideas (from Young Hegelians to Existentialists, Situationists and Poststructuralists). My original project was an attempt to construct an Anarchist Theory of International Relations – something that would transcend the limitations of English School and Marxian-inspired Critical Theory in IR. But then the project had to evolve into something else as it repeatedly confronted the structural and epistemological problems of the discourse of IR itself -- ones emanating (in my opinion) from its inherent Statism. Thus I started focusing on themes of sovereignty, exception, State, sacredness, spectrality and spectacularity. I investigated these with existential psychoanalytic and semiotic approaches. As a result, my doctoral thesis, which is now in the process of being rewritten into a book, highlighted the hitherto unexplored problem of State-reification (the term that I have coined) (see Abstract below). It investigated how the production, simulation and reification of the State as a pure presence logically systemises popular and theoretical conceptions of what and how reality, world order, ethics and action are and ought to be. Put differently, how States' presence, sovereignty and authority are constituted and simulated in post-industrial societies; and, in turn, how such ritualistic processes of state-reification are mediating action/responsibility/Bad-Faith, and systemizing ethics and the understanding of what and where the Real is. As a continuation of that project I am now looking at something a lot simpler: how processes of State-reification systemize ethics in a particular way so that questions of legal/illegal take precedence over questions of just/unjust?

I like importing and mixing various aspects of cultural, social and anthropological theories, as long as it is done in an ontologically and methodologically coherent way. In general, I'm interested in (A) How that which is known to be the Reality is constituted in post-industrial/consumer/information societies? and (B) How political action/responsibility is motivated and mediated? In many ways, my work is a continuation of what has already been achieved by Michael Taussig, Giorgio Agamben, Cynthia Weber, Rick Ashley, Rob Walker, Andrew Linklater, Benedict Anderson, Costas Constantinou, Zigmund Bauman, John Hoffman and others.

My main influences are from diverse, perhaps even strange, areas. Apart from classical anarchist thinkers (i.e. Stirner, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Rocker, Tucker, Malatesta, Thoreau) I also take a lot from various continental thinkers of 19th and 20th centuries (especially Baudrillard, Deleuze, Foucault, Zizek, Lyotard, Guy Debord, Lukacs, Durkheim, Bataille, Carl Schmitt, Heidegger, Sartre, Marcuse, Adorno, Lenin, Lefebvre; Barthes; Feyerabend, and, of course, Nietzsche). I know, that's quite a list.

Abstract of my PhD thesis: The State is simultaneously a key concept in a variety of social sciences, and an ultimately ambiguous and abstract "entity". In State-theories, Statist discourses and representations the State already pre-exists the practices of its theorising and representation, while there is quite a degree of ambivalence and difficulty with regards to what the State itself is. In effect, those very theories and representations end up reifying that very “State”, which they attempt to understand and unmask as in itself. In political and international theory we still need to cut off the King's head. The problem of reification of the State, thus, becomes the nucleus of the investigation. In a journey though philosophical anarchism, works of Stirner, Nietzsche, Debord, Foucault, Deleuze and Baudrillard and other continental philosophers this thesis unpacks the problem of State reification. It demonstrates that apart from expressing a theoretical and discursive difficulty; apart from being intimately related to the recurrent paradoxes and frameworks within classical political theory (from as early as Plato’s Dialogues), the problem of State reification is also complexly interwoven with cultural and psychological processes involved in identity formation, self-interpretation, alienating dynamics of theological politics and conditions of existence within societies of the spectacle. The recurrent aporias associated with the existence of the State bring the investigation to the final analysis where it becomes clear that spectacular configuration of sovereignty draws its convincing power not so much from the discourses of social contract and the divinity of the sovereign, but in reference to the established and untraceable knowledge that "there is a State". Sovereignty is, therefore, a derivative of a more profound problem of State reification.

My thesis contributes to contemporary debates on the newly evolved, but rapidly growing field of Poststructuralist Anarchism (or Post-Anarchism). In particular, it contributes to the debates on transformations of statism in consumer societies, constitutions of political Reality and ethics, possibilities of political responsibility, as well as to the classical debates on the origins of the State, amassment and reasons for obedience. It engages with the latest international political debates on the production of political reality, political phenomenology, political knowledge and information. The thesis employs phenomenological, existential-psychoanalytic and, later, semiotic methods. It touches on an important theme of political domination and control: not why and how power oppresses us, but a more profound question of why we willingly participate in, and desire our own domination.

If you wish to receive a copy of my PhD thesis in PDF format please e-mail <kek AT IGNORETHIS aber DOT ac DOT uk>