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Mimetic Theory and the Miners’ Strike: Probing the Implications of René Girard’s Theory on Political Religion



In the first of three parts the reader is introduced to René Girard’s interdisciplinary theory of religion as he developed it throughout his academic career. From his initial formulation of “mimetic desire” in his work on the Europen novel (Deceit, Desire, and the Novel 1961/1965), over his equation of violence with the sacred in his study of comparative anthropology (Violence and the Sacred, 1972/1977) to the claim in Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World (1978/1987) that the Gospels reveal the “scapegoat mechanism” on which archaic religion is based, the main concepts of Girardian theory will be discussed. The second part is devoted to the implications of Girard’s theory on political religion, as discussed by Emilio Gentile and Roger Griffin. In a final step, the discussion’s insights will be exemplified through a reading of Peace’s novel GB84, portraying the British Miners’ Strike of 1984/1985. True to the Girardian interdisciplinary spirit, it will be argued that a novelistic account of the Miners’ Strike can reveal the hidden history of conflictive mimesis and the quasi-religious structure of the “two tribes” involved in the Strike.