The remains of power: meaning and function of regalia in Madagascar

Cerella, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-6417-091X, 2022. The remains of power: meaning and function of regalia in Madagascar. Political Theology. ISSN 1462-317X

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It has become commonplace to represent sovereignty as an almost divine and transcendent power, a concept that has its roots in the ancient Roman world. In the first of four volumes of The History of Sexuality, for example, Michel Foucault (1978: 135) argues that the power of the modern sovereign derives “no doubt from the ancient patria potestas that granted the father of the Roman family the right to ‘dispose’ of the life of his children and his slaves.” Following this analytical path, Giorgio Agamben (2015) goes so far as to state that the political capture of life represents the original paradigm of the entire history of Western civilization. This ontological and Western-centric reading of sovereignty has had an enormous influence on the social and human sciences. Taking its cue from Ernst Kantorowicz’s insights into the ‘duality’ of power, this article problematizes Agamben’s reading by exploring an alternative paradigm, which conceives sovereignty as a chronotopic apparatus and ordering ritual. Through an analysis of the meaning and function of royal remains (regalia), effigies and ritual practices in western Madagascar, the essay shows a different understanding of sovereignty and of its symbolism, which can be used to develop an alternative genealogy of political power.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Political Theology
Creators: Cerella, A.
Publisher: Routledge
Date: 1 March 2022
ISSN: 1462-317X
Rights: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Political Theology on 05 August 2022, available at:
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 11 Apr 2022 13:06
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2024 03:00

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