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1. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 3
Margo Kitts China, Religion, and Violence: Introduction
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articles
2. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 3
Barend J. ter Haar A Word for Violence: The Chinese Term bao 暴
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The term bao 暴 is only a rough equivalent to the English term violence. Both terms are primarily pejorative judgments and problematic as analytical terms. Bao is a standard term in legitimation propaganda when the victorious party will blame the adversary for being “violent” and praise itself for being its positive equivalent “martial.” Not everything that we label as violent today was considered as such in China’s past, including vengeance. The label bao was also used for what local people considered excessive violence, such as a former prostitute maltreating servants or concubines, a fisherman intending to kill his mother, or a man plucking the feathers of his prizewinning cock. Again not all forms of behavior that we might consider “violent” are labelled as such, but only those where the use of force and resulting harm are considered out of tune with the social or kinship relationship between the parties involved.
3. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 3
Don J. Wyatt Bravest Warriors Most Ethereal, Most Human: Demon Soldiers in Chinese History
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Often depicted as pitted in cosmic struggle against nobler multitudes of spiritual or heavenly warriors, when viewed from our modernist perspective, the ghostly or demon warriors of Chinese tradition are stigmatized as being, at best, ambiguous in status and, at worst, as perverse beings of consummately evil ill repute. However, discoveries from investigation into the historical origins of these demonic soldiers or troopers demand that we regard them as much more enigmatic in their roles and functions than is initially suggested. Documented earliest references indicate not only how the concept of demon warrior first arose for the purposes of furthering and facilitating the immortality ethos of religious Daoism. Also evident from these first written mentions is the clear and unassailable fact that the prototypes for these ghostly beings were unmistakably and very often unremarkably human. Subsequent literature, especially that surviving in the genre of early medieval tales of the strange, only reinforces the notion of these sometimes real and other times fantastical purveyors of violence as occupants of the permeable vortex thinly separating the human and the supernatural worlds, allowing them to manifest themselves at will and freely in either venue. Furthermore, we learn foremost how their primal function was not unlike that of Western guardian angels in being principally tutelary, with the tacit expectation that they should serve dutifully in defense of those who either cultivated or conjured them forth, ensuring the wellbeing of the living by acting as a kind of collective bulwark against the forces of death.
4. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 3
Rachel Heggie When Violence Happens: The McDonald’s Murder and Religious Violence in the Hands of the Chinese Communist Party
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After the brutal beating of a woman in a McDonald’s restaurant in the eastern Chinese city of Zhaoyuan, the situation quickly went from a tragedy and homicide investigation to the renewing of a nationwide assault on unregulated religious practice. The Church of Almighty God, a banned Christian heterodox movement, was quickly blamed. What followed was a scene all too familiar to religious practice in China: widespread crackdowns on practitioners and a public media campaign against the group. In this way, the “McDonald’s murder” serves as a fitting case study for what happens when religious violence occurs in the midst of an atheist regime adamantly opposed to religious practice. This paper retraces the steps taken by the Chinese Communist Party in the days, months, and years following the murder, revealing an organized and carefully executed strategy to further its ultimate agenda of a secular, centralized society.
5. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 3
Xinzhang Zhang, James R. Lewis The Gods Hate Fags: Falun Gong’s Reactionary Social Teachings
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In the ongoing struggle between Falun Gong and the Chinese state, Li Hongzhi’s reactionary social teachings are often mentioned in passing, but not examined in a systematic fashion. The present paper makes a preliminary effort in that direction, surveying Li’s homophobic, anti-miscegenist, anti-feminist et cetera pronouncements. On the one hand, these teachings often work at cross purposes with the movement’s efforts to garner support and to portray itself as the innocent victim of the Chinese state. On the other hand, the harshness of Li Hongzhi’s frequent pronouncements against gays, race-mixing and the like turn away potential supporters and provide critics with an abundant reservoir from which to fashion anti-Falun Gong discourse.
6. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 3
James R. Lewis, Junhui Qin Is Li Hongzhi a CIA Agent? Tracing the Funding Trail Through the Friends of Falun Gong
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In 2000, Mark Palmer, one of the National Endowment for Democracy’s (NED’s) founders and Vice Chairman of Freedom House—an organization funded entirely by the U.S. Congress—founded a new government-supported group, Friends of Falun Gong (FoFG). By perusing FoFG’s annual tax filings, one discovers that FoFG has contributed funds to Sounds of Hope Radio, New Tang Dynasty TV, and the Epoch Times—all Falun Gong media outlets. FoFG has also contributed to Dragon Springs (a Falun Gong ‘compound’ that hosts a Falun Gong school and a residency complex) and to Shen Yun (a Falun Gong performance company), as well as to Falun Gong’s PR arm. In order to contextualize the U.S. government’s funding of Falun Gong, it will also be helpful to examine a handful of additional U.S. agency activities, such as the NED’s funding of Liu Xiaobo, the Hong Kong protests, and other China-related and Tibet-related groups.
7. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 3
mkitts@hpu.edu, jrlewis@rocketmail.com Interview with Campbell Fraser, December 2019 and 2020
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book reviews
8. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 3
Motti Inbari Religious Zionism, Jewish Law, and the Morality of War: How Five Rabbis Confronted One of Modern Judaism’s Greatest Challenges. By Robert Eisen
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9. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 3
Shmuel Shepkaru Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth. By Jodi Magness. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019
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10. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Margo Kitts Religion and Terror: Introduction to Journal of Religion and Violence 8(2)
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articles
11. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Margo Kitts Ritual, Spectacle, and Menace: An Ancient Oath-Sacrifice and an IS “Message” Video
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On the surface, comparative projects may seem frivolous, particularly those whose comparata are separated by millennia; this is especially true if one is attaching meaning simply to common event-sequences across time. However, for exploring the perceptual dynamics behind ancient reports of ritualized violence whose contexts and intended effects are somewhat elusive, a contemporary comparison may prove insightful. This should be true for rituals whose intent is menace, such as oath-making rituals and curses. Although we undoubtedly are missing much in the way of context and intended effects for ancient oath-making rituals, a close examination of one Islamic State (IS) “message” video of 2014 may enable us to envision some common perceptual dynamics. This short essay proposes to evaluate the persuasive effects of an ancient ritual in the light of a contemporary, by pondering embodied and visual modes of perception.
12. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Eli Alshech, Badi Hasisi, Simon Perry Self-Radicalized Western Salafi-Jihadis and Hilltop Youth in the West Bank: Similar Radical Thought, Completely Different Practice
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This article compares the ideology of Hilltop Youth in Judea and Samaria to that of Salafi-Jihadis in the West. It first demonstrates that there are significant and far-reaching similarities between the two groups’ world views. It then explains why, despite profound ideological similarities, there are vast differences in the type of violent acts each group commits. The Hilltop Youth primarily commit acts of vandalism with few deliberate murders, while the Salafi-Jihadis in the West engage mainly in acts of murder. The article suggests that countervailing precepts within the Hilltop Youth’s religious thought currently may create a normative balance that restrains their violent conduct, specifically against their co-religionists. This normative balance accounts for the contemporary difference between their violent acts and those of Salafi-Jihadis in the West. As the article suggests, however, this normative balance has been recently challenged by Hilltop Youth who offered innovative legal interpretations that could pave legal way for specifically intra-Jewish violence.
review essay
13. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Saer El-Jaichi, Mona Kanwal Sheikh Explaining the Rise of Global Jihad
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book reviews
14. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Stephanie Valeska Griswold Mormonism and Violence: The Battles of Zion. Patrick Q. Mason
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15. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Margo Kitts Introduction to the Journal of Religion and Violence, Volume 8, Issue 1
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articles
16. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Zebulon Dingley The Transfiguration of Lukas Pkech: Dini ya Msambwa and the “Kolloa Affray”
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This article explores a violent episode in Kenya’s late-colonial history in which a confrontation between police and members of an anti-colonial religious movement called Dini ya Msambwa resulted an estimated fifty deaths. Drawing on archival documents and interviews with survivors, I reconstruct the event—the “Kolloa Affray,” as it became known—before showing how its violence has been preserved and transformed in the historical theology and ritual practice of the Dini ya Roho Mafuta Pole ya Afrika, which claims to be a continuation of the Msambwa movement. For survivors of the violence itself, and for others who suffered communal punishment in its aftermath, it is an historical wrong for which the British government owes compensation. For the Mafuta Pole faithful, however, the death of Dini ya Msambwa’s leader Lukas Pkech at Kolowa becomes a kind of second crucifixion, “cancelling” the violence of the past and ushering in a new era of forgiveness and reconciliation. The simultaneous preservation and negation of this violent past in Mafuta Pole historical consciousness is shown through an analysis of its discursive, ritual, and memorial practices.
17. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Robert Blunt Anthropology After Dark: Nocturnal Life and the Anthropology of the Good-Enough in Western Kenya
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Sherry Ortner has recently described Marxian and Foucauldian inspired anthropological concerns for power, domination, and inequality as “dark anthropology.” In juxtaposition, Joel Robbins has challenged anthropologists to explore ideas of the good life, conceptions of value, and ethics in different ethnographic contexts; what he calls an “anthropology of the good.” Between these poles, this paper attempts an anthropology of the “good enough” to examine beliefs and practices that may partially, and counterintuitively, ground local conceptions of trust in the gray areas of social life. The phenomenon of “nightrunning” amongst the Bukusu of western Kenya, I argue, undergirds a noctural economy of lending and borrowing—rather than theft and victimhood—of reproductive potential; nightrunners remove their clothing at night to “bang their buttocks” against their neighbors’ closed doors and throw rocks at their roofs to prevent them from “sleeping,” a euphemism for sexual intercourse. Due to the way Bukusu understand nightrunners to be sterile unless they “run,” while annoying, they are nonetheless considered deserving of sympathy. Key here is that Bukusu do not necessarily see such seemingly absorptive nocturnal activity as witchcraft. While the identities of nightrunners are protected by the darkness of night—a chronotope which usually indexes witchcraft and political corruption—Bukusu claim that nightrunners are categorically people that one knows “in the light of day.” The paper explores how practices like nightrunning might help us rethink social intimacy and trust.
18. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Justin J. Meggitt The Problem of Apocalyptic Terrorism
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The concept of “apocalyptic terrorism” has become common in the study of terrorism since the turn of the millennium and some have made considerable claims about its analytical and practical utility. However, it raises substantial problems. Following a brief survey of the way that the idea has been employed, this paper identifies difficulties inherent in its current use. In addition to those of a definitional kind, these include the treatment of “apocalyptic” as a synonym for “religious”; the assumption that apocalyptic is always primary and totalizing; homogenizing claims about the character of apocalyptic radicalism; mistaken assumptions about the causes and character of apocalyptic violence; problematic cross-cultural and non-religious applications of the term “apocalyptic”; the neglect of hermeneutics; and the dearth of contributions by specialists in the study of religion. The argument concludes that there are good grounds for abandoning the notion of “apocalyptic terrorism” entirely, but given that this is unlikely, it should be employed far more cautiously, and a narrower, more tightly defined understanding of the concept should be advocated by those engaged in the study of terrorism.
book reviews
19. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Philippe Buc War and Religion: Europe and the Mediterranean from the First through the Twenty-first Centuries. Arnaud Blin
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20. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Don J. Wyatt Religious Culture and Violence in Traditional China. Barend ter Haar
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