Politics without boundaries beyond an Old Regime: The Spanish 1808 revolutionary Juntas

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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
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventV CHAM International Conference: Frontiers of Humanity and Beyond: towards new critical understandings of Borders - Centro de Humanidades CHAM, Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 21 Jul 202123 Jul 2021


ConferenceV CHAM International Conference
Internet address


  • Social movements
  • Political crisis
  • Popular movement
  • Political participation
  • Politics
  • Spain
  • 19th Century
  • Old Regime
  • Liberalism
  • Citizenship


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