Beyond violence, beyond the text: The role of gesture in Walter Benjamin and Giorgio Agamben, and its affinity with the work of René Girard

Heythrop Journal 52 (6):952-961 (2011)
Abstract
Though the work of René Girard has highlighted the interrelations between sacrifice and sacrality in the contemporary world, it has yet to engage the work of Walter Benjamin and his heir, Giorgio Agamben, whose project concerning the Homo Sacer has aroused interest in contemporary political thought. By focusing on Benjamin's early description of mimesis and its relation to language, a position can be elaborated that steers mimesis clear of its indebtedness to language and towards a ‘purer’ realm of gesture. Benjamin's formulation of a more proper ‘divine’ language of gestures could then be said to coalesce with certain historical-religious proclamations, something that Agamben's work challenges us to consider as a viable, albeit ‘profane’, political and ethical option for humanity
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