Before the Law(s): Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman and the passages of 'bare life'

Eugene McNulty


This article examines the metaphysics of the Law in Wole Soyinka's Death and the King's Horseman. Drawing on the work of Giorgio Agamben, and in particular his explication of 'bare life', the article examines Soyinka's play in terms of legal contestation and the power dynamics inherent in the legal disciplining of subject bodies. The article's central argument is that Soyinka's piece is a complex performance of the transformation of subject bodies into specialised forms of colonial bare life. Thus at the heart of this play we find an explication of the power-matrix through which European Law enabled the re-articulation of indigenous life in terms generated by the bio-politics of modernity.


Soyinka; Law; Violence

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