Sacrifice may be a topic of intense philosophical-theological academic debate, but it is also the everyday experience of millions of ordinary people. Scholarly reflection on sacrifice has produced an ambiguous discourse which stretches across numerous disciplines from anthropology, to religious and social studies, to ethics. Sacrifice has of course developed within the religious-cultic context and can be traced in global religions and local cults alike. The main biblical sources are the sacrificial stories of the binding of Isaac (Genesis 22) and the sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter (Judges 11: 29–40); comparisons can be made with the story of the sacrifice of Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon, in Greek mythology. However, it is the secularized form of sacrifice that we face in our daily lives. Theorists of sacrifice outside gender studies either deny or disregard the fact that sacrifice is always gendered. The experience of sacrifice would nonetheless suggest that it is: women receive lower wages than men for the same work, and women are expected to combine their career with care for the family, to name but two examples.
The talk aimed to rethink human relations – especially their gendered aspects – with and against the tradition of sacrificial discourses deeply imprinted in the Western culture.
Kateřina Kočí is a Lise Meitner Fellow at the IWM.