The terms the “Camp” and the “Commons” limit figures within the so-called New World Order and the optics through which to imagine its transformation. Giorgio Agamben discerns a process whereby the Camp can implement access to the Commons in what Walter Benjamin termed the “state of exception.” I intend the phrase “from the Camp to the Commons” to index the emergence of the Commons as a transformative biopolitical geography. In an effort to keep track of the significance of “bare flesh” and the slave plantation to the trajectory “from the Camp to the Commons” in American modernity, I shall first discuss the important role these figures play in Fredrick Douglass’s theatrical staging of commoning practices in his speeches and life narratives and I shall then turn to an explanation of Herman Melville’s transmutation of this assemblage in his account of Ishmael’s triangulated relationship with Captain Ahab and Pip in Moby-Dick.


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pp. 1-23
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