Amsterdam University Press

Martyrdom: Canonisation, Contestation and Afterlives

donderdag 5 maart 2020 - 20:00
SPUI25, Amsterdam

In collaboration with Amsterdam University Press, and the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM)

The phenomenon of martyrdom is more than 2000 years old but, as contemporary events show, still very much alive. A panel of speakers will reflect on canonisation, contestation and afterlives of martyrdom for the launch of Martyrdom.

Martyrdom appeals to the imagination of many because it is a highly ambiguous spectacle with thrilling deadly consequences. Imagination is thus a vital catalyst for martyrdom, for martyrs become martyrs only because others remember and honour them as such. This memorialisation occurs through rituals and documents that incorporate and re-interpret traditions deriving from canonical texts. The canonisation of martyrdom generally occurs in one of two ways: First, through ritual commemoration by communities of inside readers, listeners, viewers and participants, who create and recycle texts, re-interpreting them until the martyrs ultimately receive a canonical status, or second, through commemoration as a means of contestation by competing communities who perceive these same people as traitors or terrorists. By adopting an interdisciplinary orientation and a cross-cultural approach, this book goes beyond both the insider admiration of martyrs and the partisan rejection of martyrdoms and concisely synthesises key interpretive questions and themes that broach the canonised, unstable and contested representations of martyrdom as well as their analytical connections, divergences and afterlives in the present. A panel of speakers will reflect on these ideas on the occasion of the publication of Martyrdom: Canonisation, Contestation and Afterlives.

About the speakers

Friederike Pannewick is Professor for Arabic Literature and Culture at the Philipps-Universität Marburg, Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS), an co-director of the research field Travelling Traditions: Comparative Perspectives on Near Eastern Literatures within the frame of the research program “Europe in the Middle East – the Middle East in Europe” (EUME) at the Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin. She is co-editor of the series Literatures in Context – Arabic–Persian – Turkish (Reichert Verlag/ Wiesbaden), and has published extensively on modern Arabic literature and theatre. She is editor of Martyrdom and Literature: Visions of Death and Meaningful Sufffering in Europe and the Middle East from Antiquity to Modernity (2004).

Lucien van Liere is Director of Studies and Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Utrecht University. His research focuses on the analysis of the role of religion in contexts of violent conflict. He combines philosophical perspectives with insights from social sciences and psychology. Van Liere published on conflicts in Indonesia, on the transition of political tensions into religious language, and on the specific place of ‘religion' - more particularly - Islam in so-called secular societies.

Jan Willem van Henten is Professor of Religion (in particular Ancient Judaism and Ancient Christianity) at the University of Amsterdam. He is also extra-ordinary Professor of Old and New Testament at Stellenbosch University (South-Africa). His research projects concern Jewish and Christian Martyrdom, the Maccabean Books, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, and research into the reception of the Bible in popular culture.

Ihab Saloul is Founder and Research Co-Director of the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM) at the University of Amsterdam, and Professor of Memory Studies and Narrative at Bologna University. He is the author of Catastrophe and Exile in the Modern Palestinian Imagination (2012), an editor of two book series: Heritage and Memory Studies (AUP), and the Palgrave Studies of Cultural Heritage and Conflict (Palgrave Macmillan), and editor-in- chief of the International Peer review open Access Journal ‘Heritage, Memory and Conflict” (AUP).

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