Dismembered : Citizen Sacrifice in Rousseau's "The Levite of Ephraïm"

Bradley, Arthur Humphrey (2019) Dismembered : Citizen Sacrifice in Rousseau's "The Levite of Ephraïm". Review of Politics, 81 (2). pp. 231-253.

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This essay seeks to explore the position of citizen sacrifice in Rousseau's political theology from The Social Contract to “The Levite of Ephraïm.” To summarize, I contend that Rousseau's political theology starts out by seeking to prohibit religious sacrifice as something inimical to both natural and positive law, but ends up attempting to appropriate or internalize this sacrificial economy within his theory of citizenship. If Rousseau presents his theory of civil religion as a means of neutralizing the violence of sectarian religions, for example, I contend that this civil profession of faith is itself a species of sacrificial theology which is explicitly designed to create a citizen who is capable of sacrificing their life to the state. In “The Levite of Ephraïm”—a prose poem which begins and ends with the dismemberment of a woman—Rousseau's political theology of citizen sacrifice assumes its most graphic allegorical form.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Review of Politics
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The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, The Review of Politics, 81 (2), pp 231-253 2019, © 2019 Cambridge University Press.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? sociology and political sciencepolitical science and international relations ??
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Deposited On:
29 Jun 2018 15:40
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 18:00