Blood: A Critique of Christianity (Religion, Culture, and Public Life)
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Blood, according to Gil Anidjar, maps the singular history of Christianity. As a category for historical analysis, blood can be seen through its literal and metaphorical uses as determining, sometimes even defining Western culture, politics, and social practices and their wide-ranging incarnations in nationalism, capitalism, and law.
Engaging with a variety of sources, Anidjar explores the presence and the absence, the making and unmaking of blood in philosophy and medicine, law and literature, and economic and political thought from ancient Greece to medieval Spain, from the Bible to Shakespeare and Melville. The prevalence of blood in the social, juridical, and political organization of the modern West signals that we do not live in a secular age into which religion could return. Flowing across multiple boundaries, infusing them with violent precepts that we must address, blood undoes the presumed oppositions between religion and politics, economy and theology, and kinship and race. It demonstrates that what we think of as modern is in fact imbued with Christianity. Christianity, Blood fiercely argues, must be reconsidered beyond the boundaries of religion alone.
and Chinese Medicine (New York: Zone Books, 2002). 283. See C. W. Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women (Berkeley: University of California Press,1987), and see also, in a different perspective, M. G. Grossel, “‘Le calice suave de la passion’: Images et appréhension de l’Eucharistie chez quelques mystiques mediévales,” in Le sang au moyen-âge, ed. M. Faure (Montpellier: Publications de l’université de Montpellier, 1999), 415–32. 284. On this new
Stewart (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2000), esp. 125–42. Interrogations of blood in racial discourse (is it really in the blood?) have yet to reach kinship, in other words. 16. Walsh, “The Rhetoric of Birthright,” 301; before citing Walsh approvingly, Josiah Ober comments that “The myth of Athenian autochthony, despite the fact that even in historical times exogeny had been legal, allowed all Athenians to regard themselves as pure-blooded and thus, by definition, of well-born
or rather something else entirely than blood, be it the most fraternal blood.” Such an “impure genealogy” will perhaps refrain from creating “a law that makes blood flow and exacts blood as payment.”134 Perhaps. By way of law, kinship and race science, political economy and international (and personal) relations, and most prominently through the history of medicine, blood seems to be at the heart of things. It is at the heart of economics and of what Douglas Starr has called “an epic history of
1990), esp. chap. 4. 20. Tomislav Z. Longinović, Vampires Like US: Writing Down “the Serbs” (Belgrade: Belgrade Circle, 2005), and see now Longinović, Vampire Nation: Violence as Cultural Imaginary (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2011). 21. Rickels, Vampire Lectures, 56. 22. Rickels, Aberrations, 141. 23. Stoker, Dracula, 245. 24. Christopher Herbert, “Vampire Religion,” Representations 79, no. 1 (Summer 2002): 100–121; Stephen Arata has been credited with having launched a
nationalism), as it continues to be conceived of and largely operative still.145 Whether we consider the nation-state as completing the Reformation (with the French Revolution), as changing the structure of social classes (the emergence of the bourgeoisie, the democratization or at least generalization of aristocratic privileges, modes and standards of behavior, and manners), as grounded in a pre-political community called the “people” or “nation” (the invention of nationalism), or as the sign of