René Girard’s Mimetic Theory
REMUS is a cluster of research projects associated with the work of the French American cultural theorist René Girard, the insights of whom are widely referred to as Mimetic Theory. Like the Colloquium on Violence and Religion (COV&R) our mission is to explore deeper Girard’s mimetic model of the relationship between violence, religion and culture.
Mimetic Theory announces the interrelation between religion, cultural formation and violence, around two anthropological discoveries: the ‘mimetic’ or imitative nature of desire, and the importance of patterns of social exclusion (or scapegoating) in the genesis and preservation of culture. For fifty years, it has made a rich if provocative contribution to research and reflection in the humanities, as well as in the social and biological sciences. Its importance has been especially valuable in a post-secular context, in which the return of religion appears apparent, and where new and more nuanced ways of thinking about what is sacred are required. The publication of Girard’s La Violence et la Sacré was greeted in Le Monde by the following declaration: ‘the year 1972 should be marked with an asterisk in the annals of the humanities’. In 2005, Girard was elected as a member of the Académie Francaise.
Girard draws attention to the processes of scapegoating in all forms of social interaction, including religious behaviour. The name of the project, therefore, evokes the victim of Rome’s founding sacrifice: ‘For without a cement of blood (it must be human, it must be innocent) no secular wall can safely stand’ – W.H. Auden.
Dr Michael Kirwan SJ, Lead Scholar
Sheelah Treflé Hidden, Project Facilitator
Dr Leslie Goode, Researcher
Revd Matthew Malone SJ, Researcher
Other Collaborators and Associates
Dr Stéphane Vinolo