This chapter introduces the connection between sovereignty and the sacred as a way of reimagining the foundations of both polity and religion. Contemporary debates in political theory often ignore the evidence from history and anthropology that suggests that sovereignty, like the sacred as figured in many premodern religious traditions, can be disorderly or ambivalent. Sovereignty is commonly expressed in acts of founding violence, such as sacrifice; during festivals such as Carnival, when there occurs a temporary inversion of the social order; or in declarations of pardon such as the biblical Jubilee. Although such moments have arguably declined in a rule-obsessed modernity, they appear necessary for the legitimacy and justice of polity. This reinforces the urgency of a reenvisioning of sovereignty.
Keywords: sovereignty, sacred, antinomianism, secularism, liberalism, sacrifice