Article

Starvation and Self-Mutilation in Religious Traditions

Liz Wilson

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199759996
Published online March 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199759996.013.0013

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Starvation and Self-Mutilation in Religious Traditions

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This chapter investigates the place of destructive acts against oneself—such as starvation and self-mutilation—in the spectrum of violent actions performed in the name of religion. Self-starvation and self-mutilation share some of the ideological and performative features of violence in the name of religion. The self-sacrifice of Quang Duc was demonstrative of a time-tested Buddhist form of bodily practice known in Buddhist studies in the West as self-immolation. It is revealed that self-directed violence can be both an act of devotion and an act of protest. Self-immolation and hunger-striking employ the body as a means of resistance. Like self-conflagration, the hunger strike has become a global phenomenon used on every continent of the world.

Keywords: starvation; self-mutilation; religion; violence; Quang Duc; self-immolation; hunger-striking; self-conflagration

Article.  3424 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Comparative Religion ; Buddhism ; Hinduism

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