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The racialized Leviathan: A History of state personifications, from Hobbes to Sarmiento

Objective

"Political thought has always been permeated by personifications. A personification is the graphic or rhetorical representation of an abstract idea as a person. Thanks to the device of personification, notions like liberty, power, the state, and the nation acquire concrete form, as characters in a narrative of real-life events. Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan and France's Marianne are pre-eminent models of European state personifications. These figures expressed an idea of order and civilization in opposition to a common counterpart: savage America. But what if America resisted this characterization? My research delves into that question. It develops a genealogy of the conceptual pair order/disorder expressed through personifications of Europe and America from the 17th to the mid-19th centuries. Furthermore, it innovates by examining an underexplored subject: the original disruption of this opposition by the Argentine thinker Domingo Sarmiento. He constructed a personification of the Argentine state that displayed a highly efficient political order, which I term a ""racialized Leviathan"". This project primarily adopts the methodology of conceptual history, interpreting texts, symbols, and concepts related to these personifications within their intellectual and historical contexts. It also incorporates insights from postcolonial studies. In addition, it draws on approaches from literary studies and art theory to elaborate a formal definition of the concept of personification, and to explore the way in which works of art articulate ideas. The main breakthroughs of this project are: a) A pioneering historicization of state personifications, hitherto mostly studied in its European formats, but overlooked in its Latin American reception; b) Interdisciplinarity due to the combination of history of political thought, postcolonial studies, literary studies, and art theory; c) The questioning of a pervasive conceptual framework that has associated America with political disorder."

Coordinator

ECOLE DES HAUTES ETUDES EN SCIENCES SOCIALES
Net EU contribution
€ 211 754,88
Address
54 BD RASPAIL
75270 Paris
France

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Region
Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
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Total cost
No data