Cooperation Event

At War Against the Infidels: Religion, Violence, and Politics in Post-Revolutionary Mexico (1930-1960)

Lecture by Prof. Gema Kloppe-Santamaría in cooperation with the LFF Graduate Programme: "Democratising Security in Turbulent Times" at Universität Hamburg.




04:00 p.m. (CET)


05:30 p.m. (CET)

Video At War Against the Infidels: Religion, Violence, and Politics in Post-Revolutionary Mexico (1930-1960)
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Video At War Against the Infidels: Religion, Violence, and Politics in Post-Revolutionary Mexico (1930-1960)

  • 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, Prof. Gema Kloppe-Santamaría 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, Kloppe-Santamaría 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. Her argument is based on materials found in government archives, church archives, and periodicals from local, national, and international sources and constructed in dialogue with current literature on the sociology of religion in Latin America.

    Speaker: Prof. Gema Kloppe-Santamaría is Assistant Professor of Latin American History at Loyola University Chicago and currently Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies in Germany. As sociologist and historian, Kloppe-Santamaría’s research deals with questions of violence, religion, gender, and state formation in Latin America, with a particular focus on Mexico. She is the author of In the Vortex of Violence: Lynching, Extralegal Justice and the State in Post-Revolutionary Mexico (University of California Press, 2020) and served as lead editor of the books Violence and Crime in Latin America: Representations and Politics (University of Oklahoma Press, 2017) and Human Security and Chronic Violence in Mexico: New Perspectives and Proposals from Below (Editorial Porrúa, 2019). Her work has been supported by several grants, including most recently a Global Religion Research Initiative Project Grant, a Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation Distinguished Scholar Award, and a Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders Award. From 2017 to 2018 Dr. Kloppe-Santamaría was a Kellogg Visiting Fellow at the University of Notre Dame, and she is currently a Global Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.

    Moderation: Prof. Dr. Sabine Kurtenbach is Lead Research Fellow at the GIGA Institute for Latin American Studies.


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