State Martyrs: Aesthetics and Performativity of a Contemporary Political Discourse

In: Journal of Religion in Europe
Baldassare Scolari Zentrum für Religion, Wirtschaft und Politik, Universität Zürich,

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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.

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