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The Babylon ComplexTheopolitical Fantasies of War, Sex, and Sovereignty$
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Erin Runions

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823257331

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823257331.001.0001

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Babylon and the Crisis of Sovereignty

(p.1) Introduction
The Babylon Complex

Erin Runions

Fordham University Press

Babylon is intriguing in the way that it is both loved and hated, often in tandem. Conflicting reactions to Babylon come through an original biblical ambivalence that has made it an excellent figure for representing and managing the centering and decentering tensions within global capitalism. This introduction provides an overview of the biblical texts as well as apocalyptic and orientalist interpretive traditions that crystallize into the culturally recognizable figure of Babylon. It then gives a sense of the wide prevalence and malleability of this image in U.S. culture, politics, and media, indicating the patterns of its appearance. Finally, it suggests that the Bible and Babylon help to shore up what Michel Foucault has called the biopolitics of liberal governmentality, which prioritize and promote the “subject of interest” over the “subject of right.” This move cultivates and striates populations beyond social contracts and boundaries of national sovereignty to facilitate the circulation of global capital in ways that both secure and threaten U.S. interests. It is precisely this predicament that allusions to Babylon try to manage.

Keywords:   apocalyptic, Babylon, Babel, biopolitics, global capitalism, governmentality, orientalist, subject of interest, subject of right, Whore of Babylon

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