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From biblical exegesis to crises of european modernity: Reflections on girardian theory and its limitations1

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Over the last two decades the field of 'Girard studies' - the application of René Girard's theories on mimetic desire and sacrificial violence to cultural artifacts - has tended to focus increasingly on Biblical texts and theological implications of Girard's interpretation of Christianity as a 'theory of man.' After summarizing Girardian theory in its current form, this essay stresses the applicability of the theory to François Furet's reading of the crisis of bourgeois culture and to Pascal Bruckner's reading of the malaise of the post Cold War world and the ethnic crises associated with the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. This essay also demonstrates how Girardian theory illuminates the recent historical and judicial crises associated with France's efforts to come to terms with the memory and legacy of the collaborationist Vichy regime during World War II. The essay concludes with a brief assessment of the advantages as well as the pitfalls of employing Girardian theory to demystify the crises of modernity.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2003

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