Seminar: Flesh of One’s Flesh: The Bible, George Bataille, and Black Studies

We are happy to announce the second lecture organized by the project End of Law on 30 september 16:00 to 17:30 (CEST).

Our guest is Bruce Rosenstock, professor and director of graduate studies at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who works in the field of philosophy and religion.

Rosenstocks’s talk will be centered around the notion of kinship and slavery in Leviticus and its Nachleben in Black Studies and how it can be used to confront George Bataille’s discussion of sovereignity and law.

The phrase “flesh of one’s flesh” is used in the Levitical prohibitions against incest (Lev 18) to refer to individuals with such proximate kinship bonds to one another that they are excluded from becoming marriage partners. The prohibited act of incest is named with the phrase “to reveal nakedness.” The incest prohibitions in Leviticus are part of a Priestly stratum known as the Holiness Code, the goal of which is to extend access to the holy across the entirety of the people in their behavior outside of the Temple. This Holiness School program has been called “egalitarian” and “revolutionary,” and in the first part of the presentation Rosenstock will explore the theopolitical implications of this program to sacralize human reproduction and to identify incest as the most egregious assault possible against the enfleshed holiness of Israel’s and humanity’s One God Yahweh. The second part of the talk will examine the terrible legacy of the Holiness Code’s attempt to sacralize kinship flesh and how it was used by Christians as a means to legitimate slavery, and how it can be related to George Bataille’s exploration of the “inner experience” of the sacrality of the reproductive power of human flesh

Rosenstock has written several books and articles on ancient and modern philosophy and religion. His latest monograph is a study of Oskar Goldberg: Transfinite Life: Oskar Goldberg and the Vitalist Imagination which argues that Goldberg’s philosophy is best understood as part of the resurgent vitalism of the early twentieth century. He is at the moment working on a book to be titled Hegel and the Holocaust. This study will treat thinkers who have attempted to respond to the Holocaust in the terms of Hegel’s philosophy of history.

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