Call for Book Chapter Proposals: "Martyrs, Narratives, and Social Change in 20th-Century Mexico and Latin America"

Vernon Press invites book chapters for a forthcoming edited volume titled “Martyrs, Narratives, and Social Change in 20th-Century Mexico and Latin America”.

The book aims at revisiting the multiple ways in which (Christian) martyrdom remains at the center of social upheaval and political mobilization in Latin America. A basic notion underlying this book is that the differentiation between the religious and political spheres, a conspicuous feature of modernity can and should be further examined in order to shed light into the ways in which religious patterns inform contemporary social mobilization and remembrance. Even if religious and political beliefs and practices remain distinct domains in normative and analytical reasoning, the two “spheres” frequently overlap in social realities and present themselves intertwined in specific cases.

Scholars such as Arendt or Bauman have usually studied this overlap as the result of “destructive” forces unleashed by modern instrumental rationality while others, like Feher or Einsenstadt, have framed the issue as political religions that deviate from modern development. The latter is usually understood in terms of Max Weber’s rational-bureaucratic ideal type with the concomitant “disenchantment of the world”. 

This book, however, aims to look at martyrial narratives as part of non-deviant matrixes of meaning that infuse current political and social movements in the sub-continent.

Its main point of departure is that the overlap between political and religious beliefs and practices occurs in manners that are fully compatible with modern states and are implicated in the emergence of one more of the core characteristics of modernity: civil society. Therefore, martyrdom reveals itself as a fertile terrain within which to observe this apparent paradox. 

The present study aims to contribute to the understanding of the intersections between historical thinking, political sociology, and the sociology of religion and to advance the creation of trans-disciplinary interpretations rooted in sociological, anthropological, and historical thinking.  Martyrdom here will be understood as a narrative pattern similar to that of Christianity: persecution, violent death, a group of followers who assign meaning to the person´s suffering and memorialize them). 

From this narrative standpoint, martyrdom is indeed a paradoxical expression: antithetical concepts work together in a complex reshaping of religious and political concepts. Religion and politics are presented to us as complementary concepts; in martyrdom, the two create a set of meaningful actions. It is no wonder that death provides a terrain where religion and politics come together, sometimes conspicuously in the case of specific deaths.

But the mobilization produced around martyrs is also constructed around the social impossibility of neatly separating the two spheres. The two realms appear not only entwined but as emerging from one another. Differentiating them implies eroding the notion of martyrdom itself and making it illegible.

On the other hand, we must keep in mind the fact that many scholars have studied the apparently paradoxical ability of religious belief to serve both as an “opiate of the masses” and the “amphetamines of the people”. They have documented how different (and frequently opposing) interpretations of religion have provided social groups with ideological and organizational apparatuses.  This social malleability of religious beliefs and practices can be better seen through the study of martyrdom because it allows scholars to track transformations in meaning over time, and to draw comparisons with similar occurrences elsewhere while underlining the specifics of Latin American experiences.

The chapters in this book will inquire into the ways in which martyrdom legitimates social action and renders it meaningful, thus creating modes of remembrance and martyrial demands in several Latin American countries.

Some topics to cover:

  • Martyrial accounts in secular settings: heroes, nationhood, and state
  • Social mobilization and meaningful death
  • Everyday forms of remembrance and memory patterns in contemporary forms of martyrdom
  • Social networks and meaningful death
  • Story-telling, creation, and contestation of martyrial accounts in Latin America
  • Mnemonic devices: literature, museums, graphic novels, utilitarian objects, etc.


Chapters should be in English and 20-25 pages long.

Deadline for submissions: September 30, 2024.

Please send submissions to Marisol Lopez-Menendez:

This proposal is due on October 6th 2024.

Page last updated on February 12th 2024. All information correct at the time, but subject to change.