"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Politics of Iconoclasm

The events from at least 2006 onward, with the so-called Danish cartoons, have brought the concept of iconoclasm in its Islamic forms to the fore. But historically, of course, that was a Jewish, and later Christian, phenomenon before it was an Islamic one. A book set for release this fall takes a look at iconoclasm in both its Islamic and Christian forms: James Noyes, The Politics of Iconoclasm: Religion, Violence and the Culture of Image-breaking in Christianity and Islam (I.B. Tauris, October 2013), 288pp.

About this book we are told:
From false idols and graven images to the tombs of kings and the shrines of capitalism, the targeted destruction of cities, sacred sites and artefacts for religious, political or nationalistic reasons is central to our cultural legacy. This book examines the different traditions of image-breaking in Christianity and Islam as well as their development into nominally secular movements and paints a vivid, scholarly picture of a culture of destruction encompassing Protestantism, Wahhabism, and Nationalism. Beginning with a comparative account of Calvinist Geneva and Wahhabi Mecca, The Politics of Iconoclasm explores the religious and political agendas behind acts of image-breaking and their relation to nationhood and state-building. From sixteenth-century Geneva to urban developments in Mecca today, The Politics of Iconoclasm explores the history of image-breaking, the culture of violence and its paradoxical roots in the desire for renewal. Examining these dynamics of nationhood, technology, destruction and memory, a historical journey is described in which the temple is razed and replaced by the machine.

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