CURA: “Deuteronomy 21:10-14 as a Pornotropic Text”

  • Starts: 12:00 pm on Friday, October 22, 2021
  • Ends: 1:30 pm on Friday, October 22, 2021
CURA Colloquium with Mónica Isabel Rey, PhD Candidate, Graduate Program on Religion, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Deuteronomy 21:10-14 records a law related to warfare wherein after battle an Israelite warrior can take young foreign girls from the defeated party and hold them captive for sexual enslavement. Various interpretive communities have tried to address this warfare law in an attempt to determine whether or not the text legislates the modern day equivalent of rape and at times romanticizing the sexual enslavement experienced by the captive. In this paper, I hope to draw on the work of Hortense Spillers who coined the term pornotroping to explain the ways in which a person is transformed into merely flesh meant for enslavement, and subject to violent sexual impulses. Though biblical interpretations are generally interested in deciphering the status of the foreign female captive and the so-called rituals in this text, biblical scholars often abdicate themselves from responsible, ethically orientated interpretations which deal with the ways in which the captive experiences enslavement, violation, and sexual exploitation. Contrary to the way many scholars have tended to interpret this text, this paper will build on my other work which argues that the ethnicity and foreignness of the female captive is central to the violent sexual impulses she is subjected to in the text. By attending to the haptic aspects of the experience described of the foreign female captive, interpreters can move away from viewing her the way the Israelite warrior intends us to view her (merely “flesh”), and instead as what Spillers argues happens in the process of enslavement, an alien entity. By focusing on the insights Spillers has made on touch, we can explore the way unwanted touch signals the freedom or unfreedom of an individual and also reevaluate whether her status is a primary wife or what I argue, an enslaved person in the sexual economy of ancient Israel. Co-sponsored with the School of Theology *Reading the paper in advance of the session is required. Email for your copy. Join Virtually at zoom meeting id: 978 5810 4239 passcode: 599536
121 Bay State Rd.

Back to Calendar