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date: 21 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter investigates the place of destructive acts against oneself—such as starvation and self-mutilation—in the spectrum of violent actions performed in the name of religion. Self-starvation and self-mutilation share some of the ideological and performative features of violence in the name of religion. The self-sacrifice of Quang Duc was demonstrative of a time-tested Buddhist form of bodily practice known in Buddhist studies in the West as self-immolation. It is revealed that self-directed violence can be both an act of devotion and an act of protest. Self-immolation and hunger-striking employ the body as a means of resistance. Like self-conflagration, the hunger strike has become a global phenomenon used on every continent of the world.

Keywords: starvation, self-mutilation, religion, violence, Quang Duc, self-immolation, hunger-striking, self-conflagration

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