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Department of Social Anthropology


Professor Matthew Engelke (Columbia University)

Sovereign Bodies

Throughout his work, Sir James George Frazer focused on the nexus of life and death, above all in his well-known studies of such ideas and practices as regicide and scapegoating. One of his primary interests in doing so was to uncover the inner workings of sovereignty. In this lecture, I connect Frazer’s interests to emerging areas of study in the anthropology of death, areas that both reinforce and challenge his understandings of how sovereignty over life is imagined and enacted. In doing so, I situate Frazer in relation to what we might call his secular sensibilities: a certain commitment to enlightenment that shaped his work and reflects more generally on the tangled relations among the various forms of sovereign bodies: in gods, monarchs, the people, and the self.

All are welcome to attend.

Friday, 20 May, 2022 - 16:30 to 18:00
Event location: 
Winstanley Lecture Theatre, Blue Boar Court, Trinity College, (off Whewell’s Court, Trinity Street)