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The divine kingship of the Shilluk: on violence, utopia and the human condition, or, elements for an archaeology of sovereignty

Graeber, David (2011) The divine kingship of the Shilluk: on violence, utopia and the human condition, or, elements for an archaeology of sovereignty. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 1 (1). pp. 1-62. ISSN 2049-1115

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Abstract

Since Frazer's time, Shilluk kingship has been a flashpoint of anthropological debates about the nature of sovereignty, and while such debates are now considered irrelevant to current debates on the subject, they need not be. This essay presents a detailed analysis of the history, myth, and ritual surrounding the Shilluk institution to propose a new set of distinctions: between "divine kingship" (by which humans can become god through arbitrary violence, reflexively defining their victims as "the people") and "sacred kingship" (the popular domestication of such figures through ritual), and argues that kingship always represents the image of a temporary, imperfect solution to what is taken to be the fundamental dilemma of the human condition—one that can itself only be maintained through terror

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.haujournal.org/index.php/hau/index
Additional Information: © 2011 The Author. Creative Commons Licence, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
Divisions: Anthropology
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2013 13:49
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2020 01:33
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/50577

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