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Arien Mack Editor’s Introduction TH E PAPERS IN T H IS IS S U E CO N CERN TH E RELATED SU B JE C T S OF martyrdom, self-sacrifice, and self-denial. They have long and complex theological histories but would not have been chosen as our theme if they did not have an equally rich, and problematic, place in today’s world. Who and what is a martyr? Does someone who inflicts needless pain on innocent others for a cause while destroying him- or herself qualify? Do suicide bombers and kami­ kaze pilots who are lionized by their compatriots and excoriated as terrorists by their victims qualify? Or is martyrdom reserved for the likes of Thich Quang Due, a Buddhist monk from the Linh-Mu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam, who burned him self to death at a busy intersection in downtown Saigon to protest the repressive policies of the Diem regime on June 11, 1963? Do hunger strikers who are protesting some perceived injustice qualify? Does the nature of the cause matter, and if so, which causes qualify? Does someone who is made to suffer for his or her ideas, who refuses to be silent even if it means risking death, qualify? What do we know about the psychol­ ogy of martyrdom and self-sacrifice? Must martyrdom always be voluntary? Does martyrdom have a privileged place in most reli­ gions? These and others are the questions we hoped would be covered in this issue. But like all journal issues—which depend on the vicis­ situdes of the lives of those who start out committed to write and Editor’s introduction xi end up having to withdraw from an issue—we have been only partly successful. Fortunately, I think we have been sufficiently so. I am persuaded that anyone who reads the papers in this issue will end up with a deeper understanding of the history and problematics of martyrdom, which is pretty much all I as editor can realistically hope for. xii social research ...


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