Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

First Advisor

Ronjon Paul Datta


Bataille, Kristeva, Phenomenology, Pregnancy



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


The thesis considers how the sacred, understood in the radical Durkheimian tradition, shapes the phenomenological experience of pregnancy. Julia Kristeva viewed maternity as the meeting of culture and nature, and between subject and other. Maternity is the point where biological reproduction and social reproduction meet. By examining the sociological and phenomenological aspects of Julia Kristeva’s work and supplementing them with radical Durkheimian and feminist discourse, I argue that the image of the Virgin, sustained through the sacred, creates an alienating experience of pregnancy and diminishes the ability to experience the semiotic in corporeal experiences and transgressive acts. While Kristeva begins an analytic of the sacred, referring to its duality, she misses the nuances of the social, the sacred, and irrationality articulated in Georges Bataille’s work on which she draws. By using Bataille’s underexplored concepts such as the sacred, sacrifice, experience and the irrational, we are able to develop his phenomenological sensibilities, using them to supplement Kristeva’s more psychoanalytic approach. Powerful irrationalities of social life are frequently structured by the dynamics of liminality, abjection and sacrosanct principles. Moreover, the sacred is not the sole experience and there is experience outside discourse. Pain, for example, has a foremost corporeal base, though it may at times be mediated by discourse. By combining Bataille’s radical Durkheimian phenomenology of the sacred, and Kristeva’s psychoanalytic cultural theory, a more adequate social analysis of the pregnant body is articulated.