Rituals of War: The Body and Violence in Mesopotamia - Zone Books (Hardback)Zainab Bahrani (author)
Hardback 280 Pages / Published: 02/05/2008
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Rituals of war and images of violence in Mesopotamia ca. 3000-500 BCE examined as "magical technologies of warfare." Rituals of War is an investigation into the earliest historical records of violence and biopolitics. In Mesopotamia, ancient (ca. 3000-500 BCE) Iraqi rituals of war and images of violence constituted part of the magical technologies of warfare that formed the underlying irrational processes of war. In Rituals of War, Zainab Bahrani weaves together three lines of inquiry into one historical domain of violence: war, the body, and representation. Building on Foucault's argument in Discipline and Punish that the art of punishing must rest on a whole technology of representation, Bahrani investigates the ancient Mesopotamian record to reveal how that culture relied on the portrayal of violence and control as part of the mechanics of warfare. Moreover, she takes up the more recent arguments of Giorgio Agamben on sovereign power and biopolitics to focus on the relationship of power, the body, and violence in Assyro-Babylonian texts and monuments of war. Bahrani analyzes facets of war and sovereign power that fall under the categories of representation and display, the aesthetic, the ritualistic, and the supernatural. Besides the invention of the public monument of war and the rituals of iconoclasm, destruction, and relocation of monuments in war, she investigates formulations of power through the body, narrative displays in battle, the reading of omens before the battle, and historical divination through the body and body parts. Bahrani describes these as the magical technologies of war, the realm of the irrational that enables the ideologies of just war in the distant past as today.
Publisher: Zone Books
Number of pages: 280
Weight: 567 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 32 mm
Rituals of War is an ambitious attempt to find new ways of viewing the ancient past, and for that Zainab Bahrani should be applauded. What makes Bahrani's examination of the Battle of Til-Tuba so fresh and exciting is that she is the first to combine the art-historical and narrative evidence. -Times Literary Supplement
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