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American EnchantmentRituals of the People in the Post-Revolutionary World$
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Michelle Sizemore

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190627539

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190627539.001.0001

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IntroductionTo Hover Like God

IntroductionTo Hover Like God

Enchantment and Rituals of the People, 1787–1837

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
American Enchantment
Author(s):

Michelle Sizemore

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190627539.003.0001

Until the Atlantic revolutions, the monarch’s body had served as the site of sovereign power and the substantial symbol of society. After losing this ground of unity, writes Claude Lefort, “the locus of power becomes an empty place”: “it cannot be occupied—[ . . . ] it cannot be represented.” Political theorists conventionally argue that public space replaces the common body of the people once figured by the king. Yet as the introduction argues, this spatial-realist model neglects the temporal and numinous dimensions of the democratic void. If change is a central principle of the people, then the “empty place” of power is as much a location in time as in space. The people are not a simple aggregate of persons, but a process, a function of time and change. This study argues that enchantment becomes a means of representing the people after the demise of traditional monarchical forms.

Keywords:   enchantment, monarch, Revolution, the people, representation, time, process

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