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Lehrstuhl für Kulturgeographie – Prof. Dr. Matthew G. Hannah

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Translation of Carl Schmitt's "Ex Captivitate Salus" by Matthew Hannah

The German legal scholar and political philosopher Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) has recently gained prominence, especially through the writings of Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, for his conceptualization of politics in terms of the friend-enemy distinction, and for his early and prescient analyses of states of exception as fundamental expressions of sovereign power. Geographical scholarship has also begun to engage with Schmitt's fascinating approach to geopolitics and his farsighted 1930s diagnoses of the rise of American power on the world stage (Legg 2011, Minca and Rowan 2016). This new level of interest across disciplines has led to flurry of translations of his works.

However, like Martin Heidegger, Schmitt's legacy is clouded by his involvement with and support for the Nazi regime, and by the lack of any clear expressions of remorse for this involvement in the postwar years. Ex Captivitate Salus is a collection of his writings from US internment camps between 1945 and 1947. Through this translation, by Prof. Matthew Hannah, English-speaking audiences gain access for the first time to these ruminations on his own career. Schmitt's attempts at self-exculpation often involved placing himself in the company of great political and historical thinkers who themselves were not understood or faced persecution in their time, such as Bodin, Hobbes and Tocqueville. However unconvincing as regards Schmitt's moral and political innocence, Ex Captivitate Salus enriches our understanding of the cultural world out of which his thought emerged.

References:
Minca, Claudio and Rowan, Rory (2016), On Schmitt and Space. London: Routledge.
Legg, Stephen (ed.) (2011), Spatiality, Sovereignty, and Carl Schmitt: Geographies of the Nomos. London: Routledge.

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