2022, #1 - Martyrdom: Idea, Cult, Theory

We announce the special issue (No. 1, 2022), dedicated to martyrdom.

Until quite recently, the discourse on martyrdom was dominated by a confessional perspective, which interprets martyrdom as “voluntary acceptance of death for the faith.” The term still retains the meaning of “self-sacrifice,” something undoubtedly valuable and honorable. Modern research puts this specific point of view into question, focusing on how a religious community constructs martyrdom; considers the complex relationship between martyrdom and body, gender, and sexuality; analyses the sacrificial phenomena in religious terrorism. Is martyrdom a Christian invention, can we apply this term to the Indian ritual of sati, Buddhist self-immolations, or to the history of Judaism? How the concept of martyrdom differs in Christianity, Islam, and other religions? Are the victims of the Shoah (the Holocaust) or the shahids of al-Qaeda martyrs, or should we call them otherwise?

Besides, in recent decades, researchers started paying attention to the fact that the idea of martyrdom and the cult of martyrs also existed in the secular contexts of Modern history, for example, in revolutionary ideologies, leftist, human rights (abolitionists, suffragists, black rights movements) and nationalist movements, and in postcolonial activities; finally, in the civil religions of modern nation-states. Due to this, martyrdom has become an interdisciplinary research field that goes far beyond the limited boundaries of religious studies.
In Russia, this research field remains almost unrepresented, so we can count academic works on martyrdom on the fingers. The special issue of the journal aims to initiate a discussion and at least partially make up for the lack. Among the particular topics and questions, the authors are welcome to focus on the following list:

- how to define martyrdom;
- theories of martyrdom, confessional or academic;
- martyrdom in various world religions (Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, etc.), comparative perspectives on the phenomenon;
- martyrdom in civil religions, reformist and national movements; secularization of the idea of martyrdom and the cult of martyrs;
- martyrdom and body, gender, sexuality;
- martyrdom and violence, war, terrorism.

The authors are welcome to submit their proposals as abstracts (300-500 words) with the CV both to the editor board address (religion@ranepa.ru) and the guest editor Aleksei Zygmont (alekseizygmont@gmail.com) by August 1, 2020. If the proposal is confirmed, the articles (up to 7000 words) should be submitted by January 20, 2021.