“When you see blood, it brings truth”: Ritual and Resistance in a Time of War

Elizabeth A. Castelli

in Things

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780823239450
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823239498 | DOI:

Series: Future of the Religious Past (FUP)

“When you see blood, it brings truth”: Ritual and Resistance in a Time of War

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This chapter offers an analysis of the religious mobilization of materiality for political signification in a case study of a protest action by four Catholic activists, associated with the pacifist Catholic Worker movement, founded in New York City in the 1930s. Drawing upon their Catholic tradition, the activists poured their blood at an army recruiting center in upstate New York, just days before the U.S. attack on Iraq in March 2003. Contestations over the status of their blood were central to the trial that followed. Whereas the defendants emphasized the symbolic, sacrificial, and sacramental character of their blood, as well as its purifying qualities, the prosecutor conceived it as “matter out of place” (Mary Douglas)-as a “weapon,” a “biohazard,” and a “threat”-thus framing the symbolic pouring of blood as a violent, even terrorist act.

Keywords: Catholic Worker Movement; Religious pacifism; Direct action; Antiwar activism; Blood; St Patrick's Four

Chapter.  9153 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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