Self-Immolation in Religion and Politics

This quick blog is to announce the online publication of a recent article of mine entitled: “Burning for a Cause: Four Factors in Successful Political (and Religious) Self-Immolation Examined in Relation to Alleged Falun Gong “Fanatics” in Tiananmen Square.”

If you have access through the journal paywall it can be found in advance copy at:

If not a draft version in an uncorrected and unformatted form can be found on my profile:

It will appear in the print version in 2016.

For a summary here is the abstract:

This article theorizes the self-immolation of alleged Falun Gong practitioners in Tiananmen Square in 2001 in relation to literature on martyrdom, self-immolation, and political protest. It explores the cultural context in relation to Buddhist traditions of self-immolation, Chinese political protest, and other uses of self-immolation as political protest. It will seek to expand the analysis of why these self-immolations may be said to have “failed” as a form of protest, and present a set of four key factors. Issues of legitimation and authority in the events and their representation will be raised, especially the contested nature of whether the self-immolations were “religious,” looking at the different meanings of this term in Chinese and Western contexts. It is argued that both secular and religious self-immolation can be seen as legitimate in the public sphere.

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