Critics largely interpret Death and the King's Horseman as a representation of a particular cultural trauma: African secularization under colonial modernity. If, however, the nation-state presupposes a political theology, then colonization is not secularization, but a transition into a new order of the sacred. I argue that Horseman stages this process as a cosmological trauma emerging through a transfiguration of sacrifice. As an indigenous death rite transfigures into an imperial possession rite, incarnating the political theology of colonized life, the cyclic time of Yoruba cosmology assumed within the drama becomes entangled in the sequential time of colonial modernity. Beyond representing this trauma, Horseman ritualizes it, providing a passage into modernity by aesthetically mediating that which it laments and, moreover, offering a new vision of community. This process bears implications exceeding Horseman criticism, addressing the discourses of biopolitics, political theology, cultural trauma theory, postcolonial studies, and tragic theory.


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pp. 53-79
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