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41. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Margo Kitts On Pain, Politics, and the Monstrous Other
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Responding to the papers herein, this essay ponders religious perspectives on pain and the memorialization of trauma; the opaque dynamics of self-immolation and the aesthetics of trauma art; grand narratives in wars on terror; and the existential disfiguring of the character of Job, a disfiguring which might be analyzed through lenses associated with ritual or poetics. The last theme broaches the point of the entire volume, which is the plethora of theoretical lenses that can help us to make sense of the behavior and imaginative expressions of religion and violence.
42. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Brian R. Doak Monster Violence in the Book of Job
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In this paper, I explore the book of Job in terms of the symbolic and ideological warfare waged between God and the human protagonist, Job. Specifically, I argue that the invocation of various kinds of creatures under the “monster” rubric (such as Leviathan, Rahab, Yamm, the Twisting Serpent, and Behemoth) can be illuminated through a consideration of contemporary work—in the history of religions, literary theory, and film studies—that categorizes the monstrous in terms of ecological disorientation, metaphors of the torn human body, and the boundaries of the “home.” Moreover, I draw on the work of Marie Hélène Huet in her book Monstrous Imagination to argue that some of God’s showcase animals in Job 38–41 (most prominently Behemoth and Leviathan, but also others) should be discussed as monsters with reference to their ambiguous species representation and their “false resemblance” to other known creatures. When considered within the context of Job’s pervasive themes of geological and animal violence, Joban monsters take their place among the menagerie of creatures adduced by Job’s speaking characters as rhetorical gestures of disorientation, community redemption, and the meaning of small community experience within empire.
43. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Marie A. Pagliarini Spiritual Tattooing: Pain, Materialization, and Transformation
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This essay utilizes information gathered through in-depth interviews with people living in the San Francisco Bay Area to shed light on the phenomenon of spiritual tattooing—the practice of giving spiritual meaning to tattoos and to the process of tattooing. The essay analyzes the role of the body, voluntary pain, and marking the body in the context of religious experience and expression, and highlights the connections between spiritual tattooing and practices of self-violence. Spiritual tattoos work through an inside-out/outside-in mechanism. The process of tattooing draws abstract or overwhelming interior elements (thoughts, emotions, memories) out and materializes them through the infliction of pain. At the same time, things of desire outside the self (spiritual ideals, healing symbols, conceptions of a new self) are conveyed into the body through the process of painful inscription. Through the pain of tattooing and the marks left in the skin, abstractions are made concrete and real, shaping identity, memory, and spirituality.
44. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Jamel Velji Striving in the Path of God: Jihād and Martyrdom in Islamic Thought. By Asma Afsaruddin
45. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Ian Linden, Thomas Thorp Religious Conflicts and Peace Building in Nigeria
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Historical analysis confirms the home-grown character of Nigeria’s conflicts and the complexity of their peaceful resolution. Religious leaders have traditionally contested political space with other actors and continue to do so. But the religiosity of popular culture is such that Nigerian religious leaders can make a substantive contribution to peace building and countering religious extremism if given the time, space and tools to do so. Elections have been critical moments in the evolution of religious tensions and conflicts owing to the country’s geographical demographic and history, and the popular hope of correcting injustice that they evoke. There is a need to distinguish between genuine religious conflicts and conflicts that are essentially socio-economic or about competition for political power which become “religionised.” The evolution of the terrorist organisation, Boko Haram, can be traced back to intra-Muslim conflicts and anti-Sufi movements. But it reflects no less the underdevelopment and poverty of the Northeast and the impact of corruption on the perception of state and national government. The crude and violent narrative of Abubakar Shekau, its leader, shows a deterioration beyond that of its founder Malam Yusuf, who was able to offer financial and economic inducements over and above a rejection of most aspects of modernity and Western education. Increasingly, efforts are being made by religious leaders at both national, and local levels through formal, and grassroots networks to build better understanding and awareness between faiths to change and challenge narratives. With the appropriate support, these networks have great potential for improving communal relations and overcoming Boko Haram’s narratives of hate.
46. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Mary Nyangweso Negotiating Cultural Rights to Affirm Human Rights: Challenges Women Face in the Twenty-First Century
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Leyla Hussein, a 32-year-old Londoner and leading activist against female genital cutting, conducted an experimental study to test the influence of “political correctness” on attitudes toward female genital cutting. With a signed petition supporting female genital cutting, she approached shoppers and told them that she wanted “to protect her ‘culture, traditions and rights.’” She received nineteen signatures to her petition in thirty minutes. Some of those who signed the petition stated that they believed that female genital cutting was wrong, but they agreed to sign the petition out of respect of Ms. Hussein’s culture. In a world that affirms both cultural and human rights, negotiation of both human and group rights tend to lead to “political correctness.” When these values are justified by religion, they are even harder to negotiate. How can one reconcile human and corporate rights without compromising the rights of women? This essay explores implications of political correctness on efforts to affirm women’s rights. Drawing examples from female genital cutting, the paper examines implications of moral theories like moral universalism and cultural relativism to argue for cross-cultural universals approach as possible reconciliatory approach towards affirming human rights.
47. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Palwasha L. Kakar, Melissa Nozell Engaging the Religious Sector for Peace and Justice in Libya: Analysis of Current Discourses
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The paper will problematize the boundaries between “religious” discourse and “political” discourse as they are drawn in the midst of violent conflict and contestation in Libya, by exploring the historical context, current religious trends and influential religious leaders as identified in the interviews. This paper sheds significant light on the little understood relationship between violence, political contestation, and the religious sector in Libya, mapping community perceptions of religious actors’ relationship to violent conflict, interactions between political and religious phenomena, and the actual responses of major religious actors to external violence such as that perpetrated by the so-called Islamic State. As the voices of those interviewed throughout Libya as part of this study reveal, both the perception and reality of the relationship between what is political and religious are not easily parsed, and episodes of violence often highlight the complicated interconnectedness between these realms.
48. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Elias Kifon Bongmba Homosexuality, Ubuntu, and Otherness in the African Church
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In this essay I argue that the notion of ubuntu offers a way of rethinking the negative discourses on homosexuality in Africa and in the African church. Ubuntu promotes accepting communication within the ecclesial community in Africa. The essay selectively reviews some of the negative discourses from political and religious leaders, and then discusses the possibilities which ubuntu philosophy offers for addressing the divisions over homosexuality.
49. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Matthew Recla Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence. By Karen Armstrong
50. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
John Soboslai Sacred Suicide. Edited by Carole M. Cusack, James Lewis, and George Chryssides
51. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Margo Kitts Whose “Religion” and Whose “Violence”? Definition and Diversity in African Studies
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This introduction explores some complications in identifying religion and violence in the indigenous imaginations of Africa. The meaning of both terms can be contested when applied to sub-Saharan Africa, where “reenchanted traditions” (J.-A. Mbembé, “African Modes of Self-Writing”) have emerged as features of African regional wars. Examples show the necessity for expanded perspectives on religion and violence, beyond European categories of thought. Then the introduction summarizes the essays within issue 4.1.
52. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Ipsita Chatterjea The Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence. Edited by Andrew Murphy
53. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Margo Kitts Introduction: Violence, Religion, and the State
54. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Juli L. Gittinger The Rhetoric of Violence, Religion, and Purity in India’s Cow Protection Movement
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In India there has been a recent increase in violence and intolerance towards people who eat beef. While India has a fairly wide Cow Protection Act that bars the slaughter of female cows and calves, many areas have permitted slaughter of bulls and bullocks for centuries. Hindu religion has no doctrinal proscriptions against the consumption of beef in particular, although it has borrowed heavily from Jainism in the last century, arguing that the concept of ahimsa (nonviolence) forbids such slaughter and consumption of beef. Violence is exacted upon those who would dare eat beef—notably Muslims and lower castes—further politicizing the issue. This paper explores the various claims and legitimations of violence regarding the tradition of abstaining from beef. These include arguments of religious purity, racial biases, caste, and cultural arguments which have been put forth in defense of or in condemnation of beef-eaters. I argue that, in the case of such regulations of “authentic” Hindu traditions (like the sanctity of the cow), purity concerns are directly tied to Hindu nationalist ideologies.
55. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Paul R. Powers Territory Is Not Map: Deterritorialisation, Mere Religion, and Islamic State
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While the Islamic State (IS) has much in common with many other contemporary jihadist groups, this article argues that it expresses a distinctive attitude toward the taking, holding, and expanding of territory. Olivier Roy’s notion of the “deterritorialisation” of late-modern Muslim religiosity suggests that many Muslims, whether in minority or majority situations, perceive themselves as detached from “home” lands and cultures and, partly as a result, find Islam reduced from a holistic phenomenon to a truncated and compartmentalized “mere religion.” IS efforts to take territory can be seen in part as a rejection of such deterritorialisation. The IS version of a reinvigorated Islam is made possible solely by the possession of territory, and hinges on apocalyptic expectations about certain concrete locations and on the possibility of enacting a robust, hyper-aggressive form of Islamic law.
56. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Yonatan Y. Brafman Towards a Neo-Ḥaredi Political Theory: Schlesinger, Breuer, and Leibowitz between Religion and Zionism
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This article explores the resources available in modern Jewish thought for overcoming the conflict between secular liberalism and religious nationalism. In addition to a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, the modern state’s claim to sovereignty demands the reconstruction of existing social formations, normative orderings, and personal identities. The primary Jewish responses to this demand have been either the privatizing of Judaism as religion or the nationalizing of Jewishness as Zionism. However, this demand was resisted by diverse thinkers, including Akiva Yosef Schlesinger, Isaac Breuer, and Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who can be described as advancing a Neo-Ḥaredi political theory. This theory has five related characteristics: (1) an affirmation of the publicity of halakhah, or Jewish law; (2) a rejection of the construction of Judaism as a “religion”; (3) a lack of aspiration to establish halakhah as state law; (4) a refusal of the identification of the state as the unitary locus of sovereignty; and (5) an ambivalent relation to Zionism, ranging from indifference, to disappointment, and opposition. Common to these reactions is a decentering of the state and its claim to sovereignty in favor of a plurality of social formations, normative orderings, and identities. It is suggested that such an approach may provide a way of avoiding the zero-sum game for control of the state that seems to plague the current politics of both the United States and Israel/Palestine.
57. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
David Morgan Human Remains in Society: Curation and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Genocide and Mass-Violence. Ed. Jean-Marc Dreyfus and Élisabeth Anstett
58. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Kelly Denton-Borhaug The Origins of American Religious Nationalism. Sam Hasselby
59. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Bobby A. Wintermute The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade. Philip Jenkins
60. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Rhiannon Graybill Sex and Slaughter in the Tent of Jael: A Cultural History of a Biblical Story. Colleen M. Conway