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ThingsReligion and the Question of Materiality$
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Dick Houtman and Birgit Meyer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823239450

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823239450.001.0001

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

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

(p.232) “When you see blood, it brings truth”: Ritual and Resistance in a Time of War

Elizabeth A. Castelli

Fordham University Press

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

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