Nov 22 2018

Futures of Sacrifice

Stroumsa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Futures of Sacrifice: Sacrifice, Martyrdom, Self-Immolation

An International Symposium with Guy G. Stroumsa

Keynote speakers:

Terry Eagleton (Lancaster University)

Yvonne Sherwood (University of Kent)

Guy G. Stroumsa (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

In one very literal sense, philosophy begins with an act of self-sacrifice: the death of Socrates. It is all the more remarkable, then, that modern thought seems to find little or no place whatsoever for sacrifice. As many scholars have documented, liberal political philosophy’s foundational claim is the so-called natural law or right of self-preservation: human beings want to preserve their biological existence for as long as possible and the highest good of any form of political state is to protect and sustain that existence. To re-read the canonical signatures of modern liberalism from Thomas Hobbes to John Locke, then, we this find (despite or because of their many differences) a common aim to abolish, exclude – or even paradoxically sacrifice – sacrifice itself: the very idea of sacrificing life to some higher good than biological existence is apparently no longer thinkable. If liberalism thus seems to constitute the political euthanasia of sacrifice itself – the painless putting-out-of-its-misery of an eldery relative who has outlived her usefulness – sacrifice nonetheless refuses to die or disappear. In his recent book Radical Sacrifice, Terry Eagleton concludes that ’revolution is a modern version of what the ancient world knew as sacrifice’. This international symposium gathers together a range of scholars from the disciplines of philosophy, theology and politics – including the renowned historian of religion Guy G. Stroumsa – to consider the past, present and future of sacrifice.

Guy G. Stroumsa is Martin Buber Professor Emeritus of Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Emeritus Professor of the Study of the Abrahamic Religions at the University of Oxford. He is the author of many works on comparative religion from late antiquity to modernity including The Making of the Abrahamic Religions in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2015) and The Scriptural Universe of Ancient Christianity (Harvard, 2016). In 2010, his lectures at the College de France were translated into English as The End of Sacrifice with Chicago University Press.

Friday 30th November

Ruskin Library and Research Centre

Lancaster University

 

 


Jun 19 2016

The Body of War: Drones and Lone Wolves

anti-drone-burqa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An International Symposium on the future of war at Lancaster University

Keynote speaker:

Derek Gregory (Peter Wall Distinguished Professor of Geography, University of British Columbia)

13 November 2015: three suicide bombers blew themselves up near the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, Paris, killing themselves and a bystander, and triggering a series of violent actions that caused 130 casualties.

15 November 2015: the President of France, François Hollande, after defying the attacks ‘an act of war’ by the Islamic State, launched a three-month state of emergency and ‘Opération Chammal’, a huge airstrike campaign against ISIL targets in Syria.

These two violent actions design a deformed and limitless theater of war, within which all distinctions and limitations elaborated by International Law seem to disappear. It is not merely the loss of the fundamental distinction between combatants and civilians, that both suicide bombers and airstrike bombings signal. In the current situation, all the fundamental principles that gave birth to the Laws of War seem to collapse: spatial and temporal limitations of hostilities, proportionality of military actions, discrimination of targets, weapons and just methods to use them. In this way, the ‘enemy’, from a juridical concept, is transformed into an ‘ideological object’; his figure, pushed to a climax from both these ‘invisible’ and ‘mobile’ fronts, becomes absolute and de-humanized. Hollande, Cameron and Obama’s unwillingness to use ground troops against the ‘uncivilized’ (Kerry 2015) is mirrored by the ISIL call to intensify suicide missions against the ‘cowards’ (Dābiq, 12: 2015).

But what lies behind the asymmetric confrontation between airstrikes and ‘humanstrikes’, behind the blurring of the distinction between the state of war and state of peace? What notion of humanity are the physical disengagement of the Western powers (with their tele-killing via drones and airstrikes) and the physical engagement of suicide bombers (ready to turn their bodies into a weapon) trying to convey? In other words, how and to what extent is there a connection between the automatization and biopoliticization of war operated by Western powers and the sacrificial nature of the conflict adopted by those who want to fight these powers?

In this symposium, our intention is to explore these questions in order to map the crucial transformations of warfare, of its ethical principles and methods of engagement. We invite potential participants to submit abstracts drawing upon, but not limited to, such issues as:

  • Theatres of War: The New Spatialities and Temporalities of Warfare
  • Mirror Images? Drones vs. Suicide Bombers
  • Phenomenology of Drones
  • New Perspectives on Ethics, Horror & Terror
  • The Ubiquity of the Enemy: Lone Wolves and Self-Representing Terror
  • The Collapse of International Law: What Enemy? Which Proportionality?
  • The Body as a Weapon: The Immanentization of Martyrdom
  • Phenomenology of Lone Wolves
  • The End of Law: Rethinking Limitation, Proportionality and Discrimination

Please send abstracts of 250 words by August 15th 2016 to bisagroup.cript@gmail.com. If accepted, participants will be expected to submit the full paper by October 15th 2016.

Lancaster University

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

24th-25th November, 2016

This conference is generously funded by the British Association of International Studies, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Lancaster University) and the Institute of Social Futures (Lancaster University).

Image: Adam Harvey, Anti-Drone Burqa