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Prayer or protest?: The radical promise of voluntary poverty in the anti-nuclear fast for life, 1983


Harvey, K, Prayer or protest?: The radical promise of voluntary poverty in the anti-nuclear fast for life, 1983, Journal for the Study of Radicalism, 9, (1) pp. 95-124. ISSN 1930-1189 (2015) [Refereed Article]


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2015 Michigan State University. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.14321/jstudradi.9.1.0095


A hallmark of twentieth-century religious pacifism in the United States was the experiment with the idea and practice of nonviolence as a means of social and political change. This article argues that as activists pursued change through nonviolent protest, they attempted to embody a spiritual challenge to political policies, using the body itself as a dramatic and often extreme tool of protest. The more dramatic the use of the body, the more complicated the interpretation of nonviolence became. Where fasting was concerned, traditional nonviolence was layered with additional issues of voluntary poverty, biblical self-sacrifice, and the uncertain question of violence. Blurring the boundaries between the private, ascetic ritual of fasting and the public act of a political protest, certain fasting campaigns challenged accepted notions of nonviolent protest with the confrontational challenge of an open-ended fast. The prospect of the suicide of those involved in open-ended fasting appeared contrary to the steady, reformist practice of traditional nonviolence and further complicated the role of religious ritual in political protest as practiced by American pacifists in the 1970s and 1980s.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:history, pacifism, religion, fasting, nuclear weapons, protest
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:North American history
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Religion
Objective Field:Religion and society
UTAS Author:Harvey, K (Dr Kyle Harvey)
ID Code:127433
Year Published:2015
Deposited By:College Office - CALE
Deposited On:2018-07-27
Last Modified:2018-09-07
Downloads:79 View Download Statistics

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