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Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme


Politics of Martyrdom

Dr Marlene Schäfers hosts the first mini-series of three episodes looking at the politics of martyrdom in contemporary Russia, Cyprus, Pakistan and India. Dr Schäfers is a social anthropologist and holder of a Newton International Fellowship awarded by the British Academy.


2. Martyrdom, Sacrifice, and Affect in Pakistan: A Podcast with Dr Maria Rashid

The second episode of our series on the politics of martyrdom hosts Dr Maria Rashid, author of Dying to Serve: Militarism, Affect, and the Politics of Sacrifice in the Pakistan Army (Stanford UP, 2020). Together we discuss the role that affects and emotions play in making martyrdom a key theme for Pakistani militarism, the way in which gender impacts ideas about sacrifice, and how religion and nationalism intersect in the construction of martyrdom.

Dr Maria Rashid

has been working in the human rights and development sector for over 22 years now. A psychologist by training, she has been associated with various non-governmental groups in Pakistan including heading a national women and child rights organization for 14 years.  She acquired her doctorate in Politics and International Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London in 2018. Her book, Dying to Serve: Militarism, Affect and the Politics of Sacrifice in the Pakistan Army was published in 2020 by Stanford University Press and received an honourable mention for the IPS-International Political Sociology Book Award, 2021. She continues to be involved in trainings and research on violence against women, gender, masculinities and militarism and serves on the board of a number of groups and collaboratives both nationally and in South Asia. 


Sunday Lights by Blue Dot Sessions

Entonces by A. A. Aalto

Further Readings

  • Acton, C. (2007). Grief in War time: Private Pain, Public Discourse. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Holst-Warhaft, G. (2000). The Cue for Passion: Grief and Its Political Uses. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Goldstein, J. (2003). War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Navaro-Yashin, Y.  (2012).  The Make-Believe Space: Affective Geographies in a Postwar Polity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
  • Verdery, Katherine (1999). The Political Lives of Dead Bodies: Reburial and Post Socialist Change. New York: Columbia University Press.


1. New Martyrs, Nationalism, and Moral Conservatism in Contemporary Russia and Cyprus: A Podcast with Dr Victoria Fomina

The first in a series of episodes on the politics of martyrdom in which we consider how religious and spiritual ideas about self-sacrifice animate contemporary social movements, political ideas, and moral imaginaries. In this episode, social anthropologist Dr Victoria Fomina (University of Toronto) discusses the rise of new martyr cults in the Christian Orthodox world, and how these articulate with a rise of nationalist politics, an admiration of militarist values, and the appeal of moral conservatism. 

Victoria Fomina is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. She received her doctorate in sociology and social anthropology from Central European University. Her research interests include anthropology of religion and nationalism, moral conservatism, postsocialist economic transformation, and grassroots political activism. She has carried out research in Russia and Cyprus, investigating the role the practices of commemoration and new martyr cults play in the recent surge of nationalist mobilization in the two countries. Her book project, Land of Heroes and Martyrs: Public Commemoration, Moral Conservatism, and the Making of Russia’s New Military-Patriotic Culture, examines the transformation of Russian nationalism since the 1990s through the lens of the contested cult of soldier Evgenii Rodionov beheaded in Chechen captivity in 1996. Drawing on interviews with clerics, lay parishioners, artists, and nationalist activists engaged in promotion of this new martyr cult, the book traces the development of the new, memory-centered conservative public sphere and reveals the moral imagination driving the patriotic revival in Russia. 


Lobo Lobo by Blue Dot Sessions 

Russian Dance by Yair Yona

Further Readings

  • Atran, Scott. "ISIS is a Revolution." Aeon Essays, recuperado el 8 (2015).
  • Christensen, Karin Hyldal. The Making of the New Martyrs of Russia: Soviet Repression in Orthodox Memory. Routledge, 2017.
  • Christou, Miranda. "A Double Imagination: Memory and Education in Cyprus." Journal of Modern Greek Studies 24, no. 2 (2006): 285-306.
  • Efthymiou, Stratis Andreas. Nationalism, Militarism and Masculinity in Post-Conflict Cyprus. Springer, 2019.
  • Fomina, Victoria. "Between Heroism and Sainthood: New Martyr Evgenii Rodionov as a Moral Model in Contemporary Russia." History and Anthropology 29, no. 1 (2018): 101-120.

Latest news

£500,000 EU Award for a Research Network on Traces

29 July 2021

Together with his colleagues from several European universities, Dr Safet HadžiMuhamedović (CIP Research Associate) has won a COST Action award funded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology, worth a total of £500,000, for a four-year research network project titled TRACTS: Traces as Research Agenda for Climate Change, Technology Studies, and Social Justice.

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4 July 2021

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