Stumbling toward a Democratic Theory of IncestIn Egypt they prefer rape in the public square.
John Seery, Department of Politics, Pomona College, Claremont, CA 9171
Prompted by the prominence of incest themes in the U.S. literary canon, the author raises and explores the idea of a “democratic theory of incest.” To that end, the paper uncovers, tracks, and documents the interest in incest throughout the Western canon of political thought. It then presents and addresses a “standoff” in theoretical circles today: whereas many nonliberal political theorists have continued and developed the canonical interest in the politics of incest, contemporary liberals have largely dropped out of that extended discussion. By way of a re-reading of Freud’s Totem and Taboo along with an analysis of John Sayles’s 1996 film, Lone Star, the paper outlines a possible way out of a poststructuralist versus liberal theory impasse over incest, thus proposing movement in the direction of a democratic understanding of incest concerns.