Law and Sacrifice: Towards a Post Apartheid Theory of Law, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Law and Sacrifice

Towards a Post Apartheid Theory of Law, 1st Edition

Edited by Johan Van der Walt

Birkbeck Law Press

296 pages

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In the wake of apartheid, Law and Sacrifice draws on the uniquely expansive protection of fundamental rights now entrenched in the South African Constitution to outline a new theory of law.

The South African Constitution not only protects the rights of people against abuses of power by the state, but also against abuses of power by private legal subjects. Drawing upon the work of contemporary thinkers such as Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, George Bataille, Jacques Derrida Emmanuel Levinas and Jean-Luc Nancy, the author elicits the radical democratic potential of this 'horizontal' notion of rights. Johan van der Walt argues that apartheid must be understood as more than a racist abuse of power, and here he articulates its 'sacrificial logic'. It is in going beyond this logic, he maintains, that the truly democratic potential of the South African Constitution can be understood: in a radical formal and substantive equality that offers the legal basis for rethinking a post-apartheid future.

Combining a rigorous theoretical understanding with a subtle political engagement, Law and Sacrifice is a dazzling interrogation of the limits and possibilities of democratic pluralism. It will be of interest to political and legal theorists as well as to those who are concerned with South African law and politics.


'Johan van der Walt's brilliant new book, Law and Sacrifice: Toward a Post-Apartheid Theory of Law is wideranging and ambitious.' - Social and Legal Studies

Table of Contents

The Distinction Between the Private and the Public in View of the Horizontal Application of Fundamental Rights. The (Im)possibility of Two Together When it Matters. Law as Sacrifice. Blixens Difference: Horizontal Application of Fundamental Rights as Resistance Against Feudalism and Colonialism. Piracy, Property and Plurality: Rereading the Foundations of Modern Law. Psyche and Sacrifice: The Time and Timing of Reconciliation. Law Beyond Sacrifice: From the Sovereignty of the Subject to the Sovereignty

About the Series

Birkbeck Law Press

Birkbeck Law School has been recognised as an international centre of research excellence, specialising in legal theory and theoretically informed socio-legal research and pioneering critical approaches to scholarship.

Birkbeck Law Press aims to develop a distinct publishing profile by addressing the legal challenges of late modernity. Globalisation and the move towards universal legal values, which should respect cultural specificities and local conditions, has created the urgent need for greater dialogue and understanding between the major schools of thought and legal systems in the world. Most legal publishing, driven by the needs of specialisation and the state-based nature of positive law, has not systematically addressed these concerns.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Jurisprudence