Journal Title

in Feminism, Law, and Religion





First Page


Document Type

Book Chapter

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The conceptual world of the West has been dislocated—by globalism by the “rest” of the world, by post modern deconstruction of our “knowing” and by science itself. This would be good news to Antigone, whose allegiance to the unwritten, unknown sacred law already provided a creatively unstable basis for Western law. Because of this classic paradoxical and dynamic tale of a law laced with the Dionysian dance related by the haunting feminine presence of Antigone, we can trace the legacy of faithful unlaw through Enlightenment dischantment, Newtonian physics, secular epistemologies into a perpetually uncertain, generative law that can resonate in both the pragmatic present and the uncodifiable eternal law. Antigone represents a millennial stance of resistance to mere edict. Even though her accounts of why she disobeyed are in tension in terms of reason, they play the chords of underground forces of kinship, loyalty, humanity, feminine insight, and love in the face of political consolidation. That aspect of the human that remains forever elusive tends to dwell in the feminine, the so-called private, the Dionysian, the spiritual. Without it, law is letter only, a mere literal gloss on the armies of the sovereign.

Recommended Citation

Emily Albrink Hartigan, What is the Matter with Antigone?, in Feminism, Law, and Religion, 85 (Marie A. Failinger, Elizabeth R. Schiltz, and Susan J. Stabile, eds., 2013).

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