Polítics without boundaries at the edge of an Old Regime: The revolutionary juntas of 1808 in Spain

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The aim of this paper is to reflect on the notion of limit or frontier in the sphere of “the political” in general and of formal politics, in particular, by studying a historical process at the origins of modern history in Spain.
As coined by Alessandro Pizzorno (taking inspiration from Carl Schmitt), the notion of "politics unbound" tries to capture a context in which all aspects and dimensions of community life are regarded sub specie politicae (under the form of politics), and thus potentially subjected to collective decision-making through deliberation. Historically such contexts relate to states of exception, in which the existing order is challenged by overflowing situations that spur the creation of new collective identities marked by political values and referents.
The paper addresses a situation such occurred in early 19th-century Spain (and its colonial domains in America) with the formation of so-called Juntas in many cities and towns throughout the country. Triggered in response of a power vacuum due to the absence of the legitimate king, the shaping and performance of urban juntas echoed traditions of collective self-organization and popular protests throughout the ancien régime, yet also brought about novel experiences urged by the successful takeover of local institutions by the mobilized populace. A critical precondition for the collective military effort, the juntas can be interpreted in the light of a perspective that addresses subjects as being converted into “political animals” by resorting to the reflexive power of politics, through which the political sphere in turn expands or contracts its instituted frontiers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrontiers of Humanity and Beyond
Subtitle of host publicationTowards New Critical Understandings of Borders. Working Papers
EditorsPablo Sánchez León, Nina Vieira, Patrícia Carvalho
Place of PublicationLisbon
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-989-8492-85-2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2023


  • History
  • Spain
  • Modern History
  • Liberalism
  • Old Regime
  • Collective action
  • Mobilization
  • Political crisis
  • Participation
  • Representation


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