Sacrifice and Modern Thought

A series of public lectures and colloquia in the Academic Year 2008/09.

Given that sacrifice is at the heart of traditional religion, it is not surprising that increasing research in religion over the past decade has led to a renewed interest in sacrifice as well. In many ways the study of sacrifice seems to be emblematic for the promises as well as the difficulties that have beset the study of religion overall: understanding its significance appears to offer the key for some of the most central elements of human interaction, such as gift exchange, renunciation, or violence; at the same time its very conceptualisation in a way not already presupposing a particular framework of interpretation (for example that of Christian theology) seems ever more elusive. This project looks at modern debates about sacrifice in an interdisciplinary context. It includes theological, anthropological, historical, and philosophical perspectives.

Events in Michaelmas term 2008

Day Colloquium: Sacrifice and Modern Thought

  • Johannes Zachhuber: Sacrifice in modern discourse and its theological background
    Response: Paul Fiddes
  • Gavin Flood: Sacrifice as metaphor
    Response: Steven Mulhall
  • Pamela Anderson: Feminists on Sacrifice
    Response: Daphne Hampson
  • Chris Gosden: Sacrifice. A perspective from both anthropology and prehistory
    Response: Laura Rival


Public Lecture: Tariq Ramadan (St Antony’s College)

Sacrifice in Modern Islamic Thought

alt : Ramadan lecture.mp3


Events in Hilary term 2009

Day Colloquium: The construction of sacrifice in modernity and postmodernity

  • P Fiddes (Regent’s Park College): Sacrifice, atonement and renewal: intersections between Girard, Kristeva and Von Balthasar
    Response: Bernd Wannenwetsch
    alt : fiddes.mp3
  • J Frazier (OCHS): The rise of Religious Studies and the construction of ‘sacrifice’
    Response: Johannes Zachhuber
    alt : frazier.mp3
  • W Palaver (Innsbruck): Sacrificial cults as ‘the mysterious centre of every religion’: A Girardian assessment of Aby Warburg’s theory of religion
    Response: Gavin Flood
    alt : palaver.mp3
  • D Hampson (St Cross): Why sacrifice?
    Response: Joel Rasmussen
    alt : daphne.mp3


Public Lecture: Robert Parker (New College)

Greek sacrifice: the big issues

Public Lecture: Gianni Vattimo (Torino)

Weak thinking and the decline of sacrifice

Day Colloquium: Sacrifice and the Culture of Violence

  • M Petropoulou (Athens): The scope of sacrificial metaphors in Early Christian texts
    Response: Johannes Zachhuber
  • Y. Sherwood (Glasgow): Human sacrifice between Abraham and the ‘New World’
    Response: Peter Harrison
    alt : sherwood.mp3
  • J Pahl (Philadelphia): Sacrifice in the history of American cinema
    Response: George Pattison
    alt : pahl.mp3


Events in Trinity term 2009

Public Lecture: David Brown (St Andrews)

Sacrifice and Imagination: Finding God in Evil

alt : brown.wma


Day Colloquium: Sacrifice as Offering

  • R. Seaford (Exeter): Sacrifice and the Gift in Ancient Greece
    Response: Robert Parkeralt : seaford.wma
  • L. Rival (Linacre College): A Lowland South American Perspective on Human Sacrifice among the Mexica (Aztecs)
    Response: Johannes Zachhuberalt : rival.wma
  • N Allen (Wolfson College): Using Marcel Mauss to think about sacrifice
    Response: Gavin Floodalt : allen.wma
  • B Wannenwetsch (Harris Manchester College): Sacrifice as Gift
    Response: Paul Fiddes


Public Lecture: Derek Hughes (Aberdeen)

Human Sacrifice and the Literary Imagination
alt : hughes.wma


Public Lecture: Martin Goodman (Wolfson College)

Ideas about sacrifice in early Rabbinic Judaism
alt : goodman.wma