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13 May 2022
In the Name of Christ: Violence, Religion, and Politics in Post-Revolutionary Mexico
Gema Kloppe-Santamaria, Loyola University Chicago
Discussant: Prof. Wil Pansters, Utrecht University
What were the political and cultural drivers that contributed to shaping Catholics’ understanding of violence as a legitimate means to defend their religious practices and beliefs in post-revolutionary Mexico? In this talk, Dr. Gema Santamaria will focus on the 1930s-1950s, a period marked by the end of the Cristero War (1927-1929) - Mexico’s armed conflict over the religious question - and the so-called détente between the Mexican state and the Catholic Church. Despite the Church’s official rejection of the use of violence amongst the faithful, during this period Catholics continued to engage in belligerent and violent forms of religious militancy in the name of Christ and religious freedom. This, she argues, reflects the weight that non-canonical understandings of martyrdom, sacrifice, and redemptive violence had in Catholics’ exercise of religion. Catholics’ aggressive defence of religious symbols and places, together with their attacks against individuals perceived as “polluting” or “impious”, show that moral and symbolic considerations were deeply intertwined with uncompromising political ideologies and long-term intra-community conflicts.