This book presents an interpretive, macro-historical, and sociological account of martyrdom. Moving away from the notion of martyrdom as an object of individual behavior 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, which 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
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
Clayton Fordahl is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Memphis, USA.