Sometimes to destroy is to create, just as waste can be a path to riches. This is precisely the meaning of sacrifice. In different forms and under various guises, sacrifice is manifest in virtually all known cultures; in some, it occupies a central position. As killing of living creatures in order to obtain the gods’ benevolence, symbolic offering to the otherworld, gift to fellow-humans, self-dedication, destruction of something in order to save something else (“faire la part du feu”), sacrifice can perform a wide range of religious, social, political, cultural or psychological functions. The act of giving something valuable away (one’s possessions, one’s time and work, or even one’s life) for the sake of something greater than oneself is a fundamental human gesture; the manner of its performance, its rituals and protocols, as well as the significance we attach to it, define who we are. Sacrifices aim at pleasing the gods and bringing forgiveness or redemption to humans; they can make friends and pacify enemies; sacrifices can solve crises, heal collective traumas, make and unmake communal bonds.
Conceptually, sacrifice lies at the center of a network of related notions such as the gift, reciprocity, redemption, crisis, regeneration, renewal, propitiation, substitution and exchange. Rooted in religious experience, as the etymological root of the word makes clear (“sacer” & “facere,” “making it holy”), sacrifice has undergone continuous metamorphoses, just as it has acquired new heterodox meanings and has permeated non-religious aspects of life as well. In spite of a popular Enlightenment narrative, the relative decline in conventional religiosity does not mean that sacrificing fades away. Even when people do not make offerings to God anymore, they still engage in other forms of sacrificial exchange: they volunteer in humanitarian projects, sometimes at the risk of their lives; they make gifts and counter-gifts; they sacrifice themselves for their loved ones; they can even sacrifice their lives for a cause, for a group or for their country. The very constitution of community is premised on the “sacrifice” of the marginalized and excluded. Moreover, the fact that radical forms of self-sacrifice (suicide-bombing, self-immolation) have come to shape our world in ways that cannot be neglected bears further witness to the importance of the topic.
Given its capacity to stimulate the imagination and resonate across a wide spectrum of human experiences, the theme of sacrifice has always attracted filmmakers. Moreover, to be effective, sacrifices need accompanying narratives, and many outstanding filmmakers have engaged in weaving and developing them. From Dryer’s “Passion of Joan d'Arc” to Pasolini’s “Mamma Roma” to Tarkovsky’s “Sacrifice” to many of Ozu’s films to Kar Wai Wong’s “In the Mood for Love” or to Lars von Trier’s “Breaking the Waves” and Bruno Dumont’s “La vie de Jesus”, the varieties and metamorphoses of sacrifice have always interested and nourished art cinema. The ways in which sacrifice has been interpreted cinematically – the symbolism, aesthetics, visual styles and techniques employed – as well as the ensuing increase in our understanding of it, make for a fascinating topic of thought and scholarly reflection.
ANGELAKI hereby invites contributions on the topic of interpretations and representations of sacrifice in contemporary cinema, especially “art house” cinema. Within the broad thematic framework delineated above, we welcome submissions from philosophers, film scholars, anthropologists, scholars of religion, political and social theorists, on relevant aspects of this topic.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
- Sacrifice in Tarkovsky, Bergman, Kieslowski, Pasolini, von Trier, Dumont, etc. with reference to theories of sacrifice
- Sacrifice in Kierkegaard, Hubert & Mauss, Bataille, Blanchot, Girard, Baudrillard, Derrida, Kristeva, etc. with reference to works of (art) cinema
- Sacrifice and the making/unmaking of the community
- Sacrifice and death / sacrifice and regeneration
- Sacrifice and the ambivalence of the sacred
- Sacrifice, gift and hospitality
- The sacrificial event, violence and fundamentalism
- Sacrifice, self-immolation and suicide between politics and religion
- Sacrifice and gender difference
- Feminist perspectives on sacrifice
- Comparing sacrificial events in different (religious) cultures
- Sacrifice and terrorism
- Sacrifice and revolution
ANGELAKI, a journal of “theoretical humanities,” favors philosophically Continental and methodologically interdisciplinary approaches.
Deadline for submissions: October 15, 2012
Length: 7000 words
Authors should keep in mind that they are writing for an academic, but non-specialist (and largely Western) readership. Therefore, technical terms and specialized jargon should be reduced to a minimum.
All submissions should be in English. Notwithstanding the fact that some authors use this language as their second language, it is their responsibility to make sure that their submissions are written in publishable English.
All materials submitted to ANGELAKI undergo peer-review. Manuscripts and Notes, typed double-spaced, should be submitted to the Guest Editors as e-mail attachments, using Microsoft Word. The author’s full address should be supplied as a footnote to the title page. Manuscripts should be prepared in accordance with the MLA Citation Style: http://www.mla.org/
You can submit your contributions to: firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com (with “For the Angelaki issue” in the subject line). Please allow at least 4-6 months for the review process and editorial decisions. Receipt of materials will be confirmed by email in a matter of days.
Unless otherwise stated in this Call for Papers, the Instructions for Authors on the journal’s webpage are adopted for this issue:
ANGELAKI is one of the most important cross-disciplinary journals of the humanities in the world. Founded in Oxford in the early 1990s, and still based there, it has over the course of nearly 20 years published more than 700 articles from international writers, including many leading scholars and thinkers, in the fields of literary theory, European philosophy and cultural theory. The journal has also frequently included original work by poets and artists. ANGELAKI is well known for its substantial special issues, many of which have been vanguard collections signposting emerging developments in the field designated by the journal the ‘theoretical humanities’. ANGELAKI articles are downloaded tens of thousands of times a year by readers and researchers throughout the world. In 2011 ANGELAKI increased its frequency to four issues per volume. The journal publishes two or three special issues and one or two general issues per volume.
We look forward to your submissions!
Costica Bradatan & Camil Ungureanu
Costica Bradatan, PhD
Texas Tech University
The Honors College
PO Box 41017
Lubbock, TX 79409
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