Paper $32.50 ISBN: 9780226689456 Published March 2020
Cloth $97.50 ISBN: 9780226689319 Published March 2020
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Power in Modernity

Agency Relations and the Creative Destruction of the King’s Two Bodies

Isaac Ariail Reed

Power in Modernity

Isaac Ariail Reed

312 pages | 2 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2020
Paper $32.50 ISBN: 9780226689456 Published March 2020
Cloth $97.50 ISBN: 9780226689319 Published March 2020
E-book $10.00 to $32.50 About E-books ISBN: 9780226689593 Published March 2020
In Power in Modernity, Isaac Ariail Reed proposes a bold new theory of power that describes overlapping networks of delegation and domination.  Chains of power and their representation, linking together groups and individuals across time and space, create a vast network of intersecting alliances, subordinations, redistributions, and violent exclusions. Reed traces the common action of “sending someone else to do something for you” as it expands outward into the hierarchies that control territories, persons, artifacts, minds, and money.

He mobilizes this theory to investigate the onset of modernity in the Atlantic world, with a focus on rebellion, revolution, and state formation in colonial North America, the early American Republic, the English Civil War, and French Revolution. Modernity, Reed argues, dismantled the “King’s Two Bodies”—the monarch’s physical body and his ethereal, sacred second body that encompassed the body politic—as a schema of representation for forging power relations. Reed’s account then offers a new understanding of the democratic possibilities and violent exclusions forged in the name of “the people,” as revolutionaries sought new ways to secure delegation, build hierarchy, and attack alterity.

Reconsidering the role of myth in modern politics, Reed proposes to see the creative destruction and eternal recurrence of the King’s Two Bodies as constitutive of the modern attitude, and thus as a new starting point for critical theory. Modernity poses in a new way an eternal human question: what does it mean to be the author of one’s own actions?
Contents
Introduction: Two Parables from Kafka

Part I Power

1 Rector, Actor, Other
Rector, Actor, Other
Authorship
Alterity
Other as Enemy and Slave
Scapegoats

2 Agency Relations
Action and Agency
Projects
Projects in Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Said
The Social Theory of Agency in the Work of Julia Adams
Patriarchal Patrimonialism Retheorized
Agency Relations and the Critical Theory of Power

3 Dimensions of Delegation and Domination
The Ties That Bind
Materiality: Alfred Gell
Materiality in Chains of Power and Their Representation
On Interests and Actor Network Theory as Opposing Poles of a Spectrum
Relational Power
Discursive Power
Excursus on Chandra Mukerji’s Synthesis of Material, Relational, and Discursive Power
When Is the World Mechanical?
On Violence
Chains of Power and Their Representation: A Multidimensional Approach

4 Binding Performances
Strange Magic
Illocutionary Force and Performative Power
Binding, Sending, and Excluding via Performance
The Salem Witch Trials and the Fall of Oscar Wilde
An Analysis of Performative Power in the Salem Witch Trials and the Fall of Oscar Wilde
Excursus on the Theorization of Performance and Ritual in Sociology
Performance in Chains of Power and Their Representation
Founding Performances

Part II Modernity
Introduction to Part II

5 Agency, Alterity, and the Two Bodies of the King
Trouble at the Edge of Empire
Chains of Power and Their Representation in Seventeenth-Century Virginia
The King’s Body as Ultimate yet Absent Referent
The King’s Two Bodies
The King’s Two Bodies in Massachusetts Bay Colony and Beyond
Bacon’s Rebellion and Race: Enter the Other
The People as Myth and Guarantor of Delegation: Herman Husband’s Sermons

6 Performing the People’s Two Bodies in the Early American Republic
The Sociology of the Spectacular State
Performing Sovereignty in 1794
Republican Government as a Problem of Meaning
Inventing the People’s Two Bodies in the Whiskey Rebellion
Parsing the People’s Two Bodies in the Whiskey Rebellion
The Northwest Territory as a Performance Space
The Battle of Fallen Timbers as a Violent Performance of the Spectacular American State
The Treaty of Greenville and the Destruction of the King’s Household as Metaphor for the State
Anthony Wayne as Agent of the Public
The People’s Two Bodies and Their Others

7 Within and without the King’s Two Bodies in London and Paris
The King’s Two Bodies and the Representation of Agency in Elizabethan England
The Crisis of the King’s Two Bodies and the Emergence of the Hobbesian Vision of the State
Killing the King as Founding Performance
Why and How Should We Kill the King?
The People, Their Representatives, and the Law
The Radical Position
Performing without the King’s Second Body
Exclusions from the Ambiguity of Being within and without the King’s Second Body
The French Revolution as a Crisis in Authorship

Part III Power in Modernity

8 Modernity as the Creative Destruction of the King’s Two Bodies
Getting the Joke
With What Should We Replace the King’s Two Bodies?
The New Political Economy
Tensions in Cultural Theories of the Modern
Biopower as the Replacement for the King’s Two Bodies
Power in Modernity: Bodies
Power in Modernity: Politics
Power in Modernity: Authorship

Acknowledgments
Index
Review Quotes
Margaret R. Somers, University of Michigan
Power in Modernity is a startlingly original meditation on the meaning, morality, and madness of modern power. To explain the workings—and the violence—of ‘chains of power,’ Reed evokes the traces of the medieval trope by which the sacred and enduring authority of the king’s body politic overdetermined the king’s profane and mortal body. Following the new template of power brought to life with the overthrow of the ‘King’s Two Bodies,’ Reed leads us on a journey—from the Salem witch trials to the Whiskey Rebellion, from the French Revolution to ‘the edge of empire’—that leaves you breathless from the revelations and rebellions encountered along the way. In this unparalleled work of social theory, Reed has produced a masterpiece. But fair warning: Prepare to have your mind blown!”
Orlando Patterson, Harvard University
“This exciting and innovative work breaks new ground in the study of power and modernity. Reed offers a new vocabulary and a historically informed theory of the relations of power that enriches, and in important ways goes beyond, the classic accounts of Lukes, Bourdieu, Foucault and Mann, one that emphasizes the forces of exclusion as much as inclusion in the struggle for recognition and redistribution. His interpretation of the transition to modernity as the agonistic replacement of the symbolic power of the King’s second body with the body of the people as the ultimate source of unity and authority in the political culture of the West is as compelling as it is original. A major push against the presentist complacency of contemporary sociology, the work articulates new directions in both social theory and historical sociology.”
Andrew Perrin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“What is power, how does it work, and where does it come from? These urgent questions are at the heart of social theory’s contribution to empirical research and critique. Reed’s meticulous argumentation and breathtaking range make this book the indispensable synthesis for understanding power in society, history, and theory. He treats each example with subtle care while still leveraging the comparative power of very different cases. The tight prose leaves room neither for wasted words nor for sloppy ideas.”
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