Jan Christoph Suntrup (Bonn): State of Exception.Theoretical Reflections, Legal Structures, Symbolic Forms and Paradigmatic Effects


In recent years, the tool of the state of exception, which denotes the precarious and contested border between law and politics, has attracted a lot of media and academic attention in the course of the fight against terrorism and decisions of securitization.

In his lecture, Jan Suntrup will address central political-theoretical and legal debates on legal models and political implications of the state of exception. Following influential propositions by Giorgio Agambens, he will also particularly discuss the state of exception’s paradigmatic effects and subtle tendencies to expand. A necessary subsequent analysis must then analyze to what extent these can be viewed as a danger to democratic principles and standards of liberal rule of law. Such inscriptions of ‘the exception’ into the normal state of affairs are, for instance, noticeable in the increasingly preventive orientation of penal law as well as in the European Union’s decision-making structures during the recent financial crisis. Finally, and in response to a major gap in research, the focus will be directed towards symbolic-political strategies and measures in exceptional political situations in which not only the intrusion of ‘the exceptional’ is symbolically and ritually staged and processed, but the effects of authority claims to power, and the symbolic shifting of boundaries between collectives can be also be observed.  

Curriculum Vitae

Jan Christoph Suntrup, born 1981 in Munster, began his studies at the University of Heidelberg in Political Science, Philosophy and Economics in 2002. Following a year abroad at the Institut d’ d’Études Politiques in Lille, France, he completed his studies in 2007, obtaining his graduate degree, with distinction, with a comparative thesis on theories of deliberative democracy. He obtained his doctorate degree, summa cum laude, in 2010 at the LMU Munich, having received a scholarship by the German National Academic Foundation. From 2009 through 2010, Jan Christroph Suntrup was also employed as a lecturer at the Geschwister Scholl Institute for Political Science at the University of Munich.

Since July 2010, Jan Christoph Suntrup was employed as a researcher at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture” before becoming a Research Coordinator in August 2016. He further gives several courses at the Institute for Political Science and Sociology at the University of Bonn. In 2017, he completed his habilitation at the University of Bonn with a theoretical and empirical thesis on various dimensions of conflicts of legal cultures. Dr. Jan Suntrup is Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center since August 2017.