Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Joint Ph.D. Program in Study of Religion

First Advisor

Sarah Pessin

Second Advisor

Carl Raschke

Third Advisor

Cathie Kelsey


Desire, Exposure, Martyr, Phenomenology, Recurrence, Subject


Perhaps the whole of human history could be summed up with one word: economy. The law of the home and the home of all law. Without fail, this situation results in a structured devotion that must decide what to do with desire. And the economic decision often follows a violent trajectory, most commonly described as sacrifice. Today, states will make efforts to conceal this underlying logic, but the insidious configurations of ‘real politik’ usually surface with a frightening intensity.

My project considers these problematic vestiges through Emmanuel Levinas’s reconfiguration of subjectivity. To address these bio-historical realities, my work highlights the role of the martyr in Levinas’s philosophy. As with other philosophical and religious concepts, I argue that Levinas inverts the dynamic of martyrdom by deposing the fundamentally agential subject. From this redefinition of the martyr as primary subjectivity emerges a politics of recurrence—in stark contrast to the politics of sovereignty dominant in the framework of a liberal nation-state. I place Levinas’s conception of the subject alongside Girard’s analysis of mimetic desire, out of which develops a different desire, which I here name “expropriative desire.” In the move from appropriation to expropriation, a space is opened for the aforementioned politics of recurrence, with an infinite demand serving as the catalyst for emancipatory struggle.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Joshua Alan Lawrence


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

192 pgs


Philosophy, Religion, Philosophy of religion