The Totemic Authority of the Court
Law and Critique, Vol. 11, pp. 301-328, 2000
28 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2005
The article examines the place of the court in civil religion. It is argued that every civil religion is rooted in a magical anchor which in contemporary democratic civil religions is provided by the court. While in most institutions of civil religion totemic authority is represented, in court it is present. Therefore, court proceedings are occurrences of magic: they are performances (rituals and ceremonies) during which the sacred is present. In court, the law itself and the clerical community to which it was entrusted assume the characteristics of the sacred Thing. In the course of the argument, the distinctions between ceremony and ritual, between social structure and communitas, and between religion and magic are reformulated, and the concepts of zone of familiarity and clerical community are laid out in a nutshell.
Keywords: ceremony, court, magic, religion, ritual, sacred
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