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Journal of Religion and Violence

Volume 2, Issue 2, 2014
Invoking Religion in Violent Acts and Rhetoric

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Displaying: 1-6 of 6 documents


1. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Margo Kitts, Michael Jerryson, Special Issue: Invoking Religion in Violent Acts and Rhetoric
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Contemporary discussions of the link between religion and violence are plagued by the contested nature of the terms. This essay summarizes some problems of definition and scope for those terms, and then introduces the four studies and postscript that follow. The four studies theorize and contextualize violent acts and religious rhetoric in today’s India and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the 1920s United States, and in fifteenth century Morocco. The postscript identifies a theme common to the four essays, which is the capacity of violent rhetoric and acts to empower religious pundits in the public sphere.
2. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Mackenzie Brown, Nupur Agrawal, The Rape that Woke Up India: Hindu Imagination and the Rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey
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This essay was inspired by the gang-rape of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey in Delhi, India, on December 16, 2012. Thirteen days later she died in a Singapore hospital from injuries caused by insertion of an iron rod by her six attackers. The authors first analyze the remarks of politicians and religious leaders that invoked religious- nationalist ideals to diminish the responsibility of the attackers, to exonerate traditional Hindu ways of life, and to blame the victim. The essay next examines cultural and religious contexts of gang-rape, in particular, the positive and negative images of women in traditional Hindu mythologies and scriptures.Theories about why some men rape and why some rapists mutilate the genitalia of their victims are considered. The essay includes results of interviews and surveys of Indians in India carried out during the summer of 2013. Questions focused on religious issues such as the extent to which the mentality that women transgressing traditional limits are responsible for what happens to them fosters a rape-tolerant atmosphere. The authors conclude that parts of the sacredtradition can be useful for enhancing the status and safety of women in India today, while other, clearly misogynistic parts must be recognized, critiqued, and rejected.
3. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Torang Asadi, The Mai-Mai Rape: Female Bodies and Collective Identities at War in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
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The Mai-Mai soldiers comprise a rebel militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who believe that applying magical potions to their bodies and wearing leaves around their heads makes them invisible. Although they previously believed sex would diminish their magical powers, in 2002 they began to claim sexual intercourse strengthens the magic. With this theological change, they began to rape both foreign and Congolese women ritualistically and violently, making the rapes much more than weapons of war. The Mai-Mai’s alienation from and discontent with society has created a power struggle between two sets of collective identities (Mai-Mai vs. un-Mai-Mai) that are at odds over authority, legitimacy, and resources. This article focuses on how both religion and violence have been sharpened in the Mai-Mai’s collective struggles against hegemonic entities, while considering the limitations created by the lack of ethnographic research. This article proposes that violence should not be studied in terms of seemingly static and essentialized religion through which the perpetrators viewthe world, but in terms of socio-political and religious disenchantments that herald theological changes and innovations to seemingly established religions in each specific case.
4. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Leif C. Tornquist, 'This Mighty Struggle for Life': Modernist Protestant Ministers, Biopolitical Violence, and Negative Eugenics in the 1920s United States
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Over sixty thousand Americans were sterilized in states that enacted sterilization laws during the first four decades of the twentieth century. American eugenicists supported these laws as part of a negative eugenics crusade to purify the white racial body. Many modernist Protestant ministers also publicly advocated these laws, endorsing them as an effective means for eliminating white degeneracy, enhancing the presence of God in the life of the race, and advancing God’s kingdom on earth. Drawing from pro-eugenic sermons and other writings by modernist ministers, this essay explores the role that modernist Protestantism played in publicly sanctifying the biopolitical violence of sterilization and in shaping a popular religious discourse that bolstered negative eugenic initiatives.The first section of the essay broadly contextualizes modernist Protestantism as an evolutionary discourse of Christian civilization. The second sketches the development of modernist evolutionary theologies during the nineteenth century. The third focuses on Protestant ministerial support for negative eugenics during the 1920s, demonstrating how modernists popularized sterilization as part of an evolutionary struggle against degeneracy and for the kingdom of God. The essay concludes by arguing that modernist Protestantism was an important religious discourse through which negative eugenic thought and practice found popular expression.
5. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Manuela Ceballos, Sufi Lovers as Sufi Fighters: Militant Piety in Muhammad ibn Yaggabsh al-Tāzī’s Book of Jihād
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Even though Sufism (Islamic mysticism) is often characterized in Western scholarship and discourse as an esoteric, tolerant, non-violent dimension of Islam, historically some Sufis have practiced and justified violence as an ethical form of struggle in the world. This essay analyzes the representations of violence in the fifteenth-century Book of Jihād by the Moroccan Sufi Muḥammad ibn Yaggabsh al-Tāzī (d. 1505), which advocates defensive jihād against Portuguese imperial expansion in Morocco. In particular, it focuses on the way in which al-Tāzī’s text stages violence for a popular audience while it simultaneously promotescommunal transformation through a rhetoric of love, where righteous fighters become God’s lovers. Furthermore, the essay examines the role of Jesus as a defender of the Muslim community in the Book of Jihād, and explores the physical, legal, and religious boundaries that al-Tāzī’s portrayals of violence help cross and inscribe. Finally, this article reflects on the implications of the broader tradition of politically engaged Sufism upon the aforementioned reductionistportrayals of Sufis as fundamentally opposed to violence.
6. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Mark Juergensmeyer, Postscript: Symbolic Empowerment of Religious Violence
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This summary essay looks at what the essays in this special issue have in common. It concludes that these are all instances of what might be called symbolic empowerment related to religious violence. Though the violence is real enough in each of these cases, the role of religion in relation to it is often indirect. These are cases not only where religion justifies violence but also where violence empowers religion. The use of religious language, symbols, and authority to justify violent acts gives religious spokespersons an aura of authority that gives them a symbolical power.