Beyond the Sovereign: Decolonizing Political Theology

By Yi Shen Ma.

Published by The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 7, 2014 $US5.00

Notable scholars like Slavoj Žižek, William T. Cavanaugh, and Paul W. Kahn help to expose the hidden theological dimension of politics that is often ignored by political theorists. Kahn’s contribution is unique in that his approach to the study of political theology is primarily phenomenological. By analyzing the lived experience of citizenship, Kahn challenges the myth that politics is secular and demonstrates how the varieties of state sanctioned violence are governed by political theology. I begin with an analysis of Kahn’s account of sovereignty in Sacred Violence and show how the idea of the sovereign has functioned in Western politics. I argue Western politics has never severed its umbilical attachment to the mystical presence of the sacred sovereign. Second, I critically analyze Kahn’s observations of the meaning of sovereignty and its practical political implications. I contend that the politics of sovereignty inevitably reproduces the structure of master and slave. Lastly, I put forward an outline of a decolonial political theology. By engaging with Nelson Maldonado-Torres’ analysis of decolonial ethics and Enrique Dussel’s philosophy, I show how the politics of decolonial love overcomes the problems of the theology of sovereignty.

Keywords: Democracy, Sovereignty, Theology

The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies, Volume 11, Issue 3, May 2014, pp.29-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 7, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 342.730KB)).

Yi Shen Ma

Ph.D Student, Claremont Lincoln University, Redlands, California, USA

Yi Shen Ma is a Ph.D. student in Claremont Lincoln University. His research interests are in philosophical ethics, philosophies of liberation, radical theologies, and critical theory.