The Ark of the Covenant

by Elias Blum


I don’t know enough about these Catalan documents to comment on their content or their historical importance, but for me what is most interesting about this image is the way in which early constitutional and proto-constitutional documents can be used as written repositories of ‘occulated statehood’. They maintain institutional traditions and public values while statehood itself is eclipsed – perhaps for centuries. As such, they become part of the rhetorical claim for the restoration of statehood, and they enable the case for statehood to be made in civic, democratic and constitutionalist terms, not merely nationalist ones. The Declaration of Arbroath performs a similar function in Scotland. The ‘3rd May’ Constitution served likewise in Poland during the era of partitions.