The Ultimate Sacrifice: Martyrdom, Sovereignty, and Secularization in the West, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Martyrdom, Sovereignty, and Secularization in the West, 1st Edition

By Clayton Fordahl


208 pages

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Hardback: 9780367424329
pub: 2020-04-08
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This book presents an interpretive, macro-historical and sociological account of martyrdom. Moving away from the notion of martyrdom as an object of individual behaviour and seeing it instead as a significant cultural work performed by communities in the wake of a violent death, it provides a novel interpretation of western political and religious history. In addition to thus redressing the disproportionate attention given to the concept’s relationship to Islam, the author offers a new perspective on two defining historical processes: secularization and the rise of modern sovereignty in the form of the nation-state. An innovative analysis of the role of sacrifice in contemporary culture, that constitutes a timely critique of long-dominant theories of disenchantment and the privatization of religion, The Ultimate Sacrifice will appeal to sociologists and social theorists with interests in religion, politics and the connection between the two.

Table of Contents


1. Introduction

2. A Theory of Martyrdom

3. The Seeds of the Church

4. The Suffering Body and the Body Politic

5. The Sacrificial Conscience

6. To Die So that the Nation Might Live

7. Western Martyrdom in a Secularized Age

About the Author

Clayton Fordahl is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Memphis, USA.

About the Series

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory
Classical and Contemporary Social Theory publishes rigorous scholarly work that re-discovers the relevance of social theory for contemporary times, demonstrating the enduring importance of theory for modern social issues. The series covers social theory in a broad sense, inviting contributions on both 'classical' and modern theory, thus encompassing sociology, without being confined to a single discipline. As such, work from across the social sciences is welcome, provided that volumes address the social context of particular issues, subjects, or figures and offer new understandings of social reality and the contribution of a theorist or school to our understanding of it. The series considers significant new appraisals of established thinkers or schools, comparative works or contributions that discuss a particular social issue or phenomenon in relation to the work of specific theorists or theoretical approaches. Contributions are welcome that assess broad strands of thought within certain schools or across the work of a number of thinkers, but always with an eye toward contributing to contemporary understandings of social issues and contexts.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General