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Strangeness, Violence, and the Establishment of Nationhood in Rousseau

From: Eighteenth-Century Studies
Volume 41, Number 3, Spring 2008
pp. 359-381 | 10.1353/ecs.2008.0026



This article examines Rousseau's Le Lévite d'Ephraïm as it relates to his understanding of the role of violence in nation-building. The apparent justification of violence in Rousseau's reading of this biblical tale points up the obvious contradictions to Rousseau's notion of the morally-justified polity in the Social Contract. In refracting this work through the rubric of strangeness, Rousseau reveals a nuanced approach to the relationship of the stranger to the polis, with multiple implications for our own comprehension of the place of "otherness" in modern democratic theory.

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