Offending the Sacred

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  • Title: Offending the Sacred: Blasphemous Images and Religious Iconoclasm in Contemporary Western Culture
  • Author(s): Ilaria Taddeo
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Arts in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts
  • Keywords: Blasphemy, Iconoclasm, Religion, Western Culture
  • Volume: 14
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2326-9960 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-2104 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2326-9960/CGP/v14i01/37-48
  • Citation: Taddeo, Ilaria. 2019. "Offending the Sacred: Blasphemous Images and Religious Iconoclasm in Contemporary Western Culture." The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts 14 (1): 37-48. doi:10.18848/2326-9960/CGP/v14i01/37-48.
  • Extent: 12 pages

Abstract

The diffusion of contemporary iconoclastic acts of global resonance reflects the close relationship between iconoclasm and religion. The destruction of artworks and of cultural heritage sites by the Islamic State, beginning in 2014, and the terrorist attack at the offices of the satiric journal “Charlie Hebdo,” in January 2015, are the two most recent and relevant examples of religious iconoclasm with which the West has been directly confronted. These events have led the West to question its distinctive values—from the respect for cultural diversity to the universal importance of cultural heritage, from the democratic recognition of the autonomy of artistic expression to the legitimacy of religious satire. Moving on from Dario Gamboni’s interpretation of iconoclasm as a constitutive element of Western identity, such as defined after the French Revolution, the article discusses the meaning of blasphemy and religious iconoclasm in contemporary Western culture. In particular, the analysis of three case studies connecting the problem of the offense to religion with iconoclastic acts aims to interrogate the nature and the position of religious iconoclasm in the contemporary West, as well as the contribution of religious iconoclasm to the definition of present-day Western identity.