Christianity and Torture

June 2010

Publication of the photographs from Abu Ghraib and revelations about US engagement in practices of torture have sparked a discussion across academic disciplines about the intersection between Christianity and torture. We have identified 16 scholars who have been investigating this intersection and the questions it raises. We will bring these scholars into conversation for a three-day seminar to explore how Christians have imagined and represented humiliated, violated, and suffering bodies in literature, art, and ritual.

We will focus on crucifixion, torture, and martyrdom, and what the implications are for enabling or resisting practices and religiously based ideologies of torture. We have intentionally chosen scholars who are not necessarily in agreement with one another and whose positions we believe will be deepened by exchanges with other views. Prior to the seminar, each participant will be asked to write as 5–10 page essay outlining his or her initial approach to the above questions, focusing on issues of imperialism, gender, and power.

The seminar will be organized around discussion of these papers. We anticipate that a set of rigorous essays will arise from the seminar to be later published as a cohesive volume.