State Martyrs: Aesthetics and Performativity of a Contemporary Political Discourse

in Journal of Religion in Europe
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The paper focuses on the emergence of national state martyrs in modernity. The investigation postulates a connection between procedures of legitimization of political authority and martyr figurations. It considers martyrological representations as linguistic performances, opening a civil religious space. On the basis of genealogical discourse analysis, the author argues that through secularization the figure of the martyr underwent a transition from the sacral and theological to the profane and political sphere of meaning. In the final part, the paper analyzes the ideological implications of the representation of politician Aldo Moro, killed in 1978 by the Red Brigades, as a state martyr.

State Martyrs: Aesthetics and Performativity of a Contemporary Political Discourse

in Journal of Religion in Europe

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4

 See Laleh KhaliliHeroes and Martyrs of Palestine: The Politics of National Commemoration (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2007); Lori A. Allen “Martyr Bodies in the Media: Human Rights Aesthetics and the Politics of Immediation in the Palestinian Intifada” ­American Ethnologist 36/1 (2009) 161–180; Yael S. Feldmann “Märtyrer oder Krieger? Die Wiedererfindung Isaaks als Kriegsheld im jüdischen Palestina” in: Horsch & Treml (eds.) Grenzgänger 341–356.

10

René GirardLa violenza e il sacro (Milano: Adelphi1980) 13–62.

12

 See RecuperoMartirio20.

13

FierkePolitical Self-sacrifice33. Emphasis original.

19

 See Weigel“Schauplätze” 12.

23

Robert H. Bellah“Civil Religion in America,” Dædalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 96/1 (1967) 1–21 at 8.

24

Marcela CristiFrom Civil to Political Religion: The Intersection of Culture Religion and Politics (Waterloo: Wilfried Laurier University Press2001) 4.

26

CristiCivil Religion7.

27

Jean-Jacques RousseauDiscourse on Political Economy and the Social Contract (Oxford: Oxford University Press1994) 166.

28

 See Christopher BerthamRoutledge Philosophy Guidebook to Rousseau and the Social Contract (London & New York: Routledge2004) 185.

29

RousseauDiscourse166.

31

CristiCivil Religion29.

32

Albert SoboulLa rivoluzione francese (Bari: Laterza1966) 332.

34

SoboulLa rivoluzione335.

35

 Quoted in Joseph ClarkeCommemorating the Dead in Revolutionary France: Revolution and Remembrance 1789–1799 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2007) 171.

38

Giorgio AgambenHomo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Stanford: Stanford University Press1998) 126.

40

Giorgio AgambenThe Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government (Stanford: Stanford University Press2011) 4.

42

Hans BlumenbergDie Legitimität der Neuzeit (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp1996) 119.

45

Weigel“Schauplätze” 16–17.

46

 See e.g. Theofried BaumeisterDie Anfänge der Theologie des Martyriums (Münster: Aschendorff1980); Herbert Musurillo The Acts of the Pagan Martyrs: Acta Alexandrinorum (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1954).

51

 See Karl RahnerZur Theologie des Todes: Mit einem Exkurs über das Martyrium (Freiburg: Herder1958) 91.

56

Giorgio GalliPiombo rosso106. Franceschini was one of the historical leaders and founders of the Red Brigades; Moretti was one of the Red Brigades’ leaders in the late 1970s and one of the kidnappers of Aldo Moro; P2 was a clandestine (after 1976) masonic lodge.

60

 See Robin Erica Wagner-PacificiThe Moro Morality Play: Terrorism as Social Drama (Chicago: University of Chicago Press1986) 220–230; Alessandro Silj Brigate Rosse-Stato: Lo scontro-spettacolo nella regia della stampa quotidiana (Firenze: Vallecchi 1978).

62

Gianfranco Piazzesi“Stoica dignità,” Corriere della Sera19 March 1978 1.

63

Francesco Grisi“La forza della ragione,” Il Popolo21 March 1978 5.

65

Maurizio Chierici“Isolamento, droga, veglia prolungata: Ecco come si annienta la personalità,” Coriere della Sera31 March 1978 4; Roberto Martinelli “La lettera autografa di Moro forse scritta sotto dettatura” Coriere della Sera 31 March 1978 4.

66

Antonio Saba“Nel carcere del popolo la violenza psicologica rende desiderabile la morte,” La Repubblica31 March 78 4; Giovanni Maria Pace “Tortura dura e raffinata ma senza l‘uso della droga” La Repubblica 31 March 78 5.

67

Gianfranco Piazzesi“La forza della dignità,” Corriere della Sera07 April 1978 1.

68

SiljBrigate Rosse-Stato184.

69

Michele Pellegrino“La morte dell’innocente disegno misterioso di Dio,” La Stampa10 May 1978 3.

70

 See Miguel Gotor (ed.)Aldo Moro: Lettere dalla prigionia (Torino: Einaudi2008) 185–390; Francesco Barbagallo “Le lettere della prigione di Aldo Moro” Studi storici 49/1 (2008) 261–267; Giorgio Bocca (ed.) Moro: Una tragedia italiana (Milano: Bompiani 1978) 7–32; Galli Piombo rosso 106–132; Wagner-Pacifici Moro 260–261.

73

 See Wagner-PacificiMoro182–188.

76

Wagner-PacificiMoro208.

77

AgambenHomo sacer101.

81

In September 2012the Diocesan Tribunal of Rome gave the green light for the investigation into the potential beatification of Moro after the authorization given by Cardinal Augusto Vallini Vicar of the Pope referring to the statesman as a “servant of God.” The argument in favor of the beatification claims that Moro is a martyr in odium fidei namely a martyr because of aversion to the faith of his executioners.

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