CenSAMM Symposium, "Violence & Millenarian Movements", Day 2 *Free*

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The Panacea Museum

9 Newnham Road


MK40 3NX

United Kingdom

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CenSAMM Symposia Series 2017

Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements

Violence and Millenarian Movements, DAY 2

Violence has been envisaged and perpetrated by, and upon, millenarian movements for as long as they have existed. This symposium explores the motivations, causes, consequences and effects of violence for contemporary and historical millenarian movements.

Under the Big Top in the Panacea Museum Gardens 9 Newnham Road

Bedford MK40 3NX.

Email: Tel: 01234 269430

Friday 7th April

Day 2, CenSAMM Symposium, Violence and Millenarian Movements.

9.00 – 9.30 Registration and coffee.

9.30 – 9.40 Welcome

9.40 – 10.40

Keynote presentation: Rob Gleave, Professor of Arabic Studies, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter.

Islam, Messianism and Justified Violence. How Law and the End Times intersect in Muslim thought.

10.40 – 11.00 Break

11.00 – 11.30

Matthew Rowley, PhD candidate, History, University of Leicester.

From Children of Abraham to Seed of the Serpent: Changing Beliefs Concerning Native Americans Before and During King Philip’s War, 1620–1676.

Between 1620 and 1676, Puritan attitudes towards the Native Americans went through three main—though at times overlapping—phases: ambivalence, expectation, and disillusionment. As with other European colonies in the Americas, their beliefs were usually complex and tension-laden. The Pequot War (1636–1637) initially drove the English towards closer relations with their Native neighbours. By mid-century, many came to believe that the conversion of Algonquian Indians held special eschatological importance for New England and the world. By 1676, these hopes were dashed. As Puritans and Algonquians entered the prolonged and costly ‘King Philip’s War’, English beliefs took a decisive negative turn—with some even plotting the extermination of civilian Indian converts. This paper details these changing beliefs and evidences the relationship between perceived injustice, scriptural and eschatological reflection, and the justification of violence.

11.30- 12.00

Seb Rumsby, PhD Candidate, Politics and International Studies, Warwick University.

The Changing Dynamics of Millenarian Movements in the Ethnic Politics of South East Asia.

Millenarianism in South East Asia has generally been regarded by academics as a native reaction to the enormous social disruptions caused by colonial intrusion, doomed to failure and at best a step on the way to more ‘modern’ forms of collective social resistance. However, contrary to predictions that it would die out with the advance of nationalism, millenarianism has both pre-dated and outlasted colonialism, and continues to feature prominently in ethnic politics to this day. An analysis of past and present Hmong millenarian movements shows how the progressions from pan-ethnic to mono-ethnic, and violent to peaceful, reflect historical trends of ethnicization and territorialisation in South East Asia. It is equally important to consider how and why millenarian activity is remembered and interpreted by different participants and onlookers, as highlighted by the varying portrayals of recent events in Northern Vietnam gathered from online reports and interviews. Millenarian movements have played an important role in voicing social discontent, challenging power structures and moulding ethnic relations in South East Asia and will continue to do so, but they need to be examined and understood in their new socio-political contexts.

12.0 – 1.00 Lunch

1.0 – 1.30

David G Robertson, Religious Studies, Open University.

Pizzagate and the Luciferian Agenda.

In November and December 2016, online accusations of a paedophile ring operating out of a Washington pizza restaurant led to the arrest of Edgar Welch (28) after threatening staff and firing several shots in an apparent attempt to liberate “child sex slaves”. This panic, known as pizzagate, began when leaked emails from Hillary Clinton’s aide, Mike Podesta, were suggested to contain coded language by a number of users on web forums, who began to elaborate upon the narrative until it was widely taken as evidence of a nationwide satanic paedophile ring involving numerous politicians and other power brokers. It is rare is for a conspiracy theory such as this to escalate into violence so quickly, but two things are of particular interest here. First, this ties into the satanic ritual abuse scare of the early 1990s - a phenomenon intimately tied to a Manichaean understanding of the world promoted by certain evangelical millennarian Christians. These ideas have been nurtured and promoted by high profile independent broadcasters such as Alex Jones, for whom they are part of a sweeping millennial narrative in which a global (and sometimes cosmic) cabal of Luciferians seek to decimate the world’s population and enslave the remains.

1.30 – 2.00

Andrew Fergus Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Derby.

#whitegenocide and the Neo-Fascist Millennium: Understanding white supremacism as an apocalyptic movement.

There is a well established literature that identifies and outlines the important role that religious and spiritual beliefs play in the formation and maintenance of recent and current neo-fascist identities. A great deal of existing research details the use of conspiracy theory in white nationalist discourse (Barkun 1996, 2013; Gardell 2003; Dobratz & Shanks-Meile 2000; Goodrick-Clarke 2003; Lamy 1996) this paper will draw attention to the importance of recognising how this use of conspiracy theory is commingled with other forms of belief identified by Colin Campbell as contributing to ‘the cultic milieu’ (Campbell 1972) and Barkun described as ‘stigmatized knowledge’. Much recent white nationalism has been composed from the range of stigmatized knowledge Barkun describes as typifying ‘improvisational millennialism’ (Barkun 2013). The hollow Earth, extra-terrestrial spiritual dimension escape route employed by Hitler coupled with yoga cosmic conflict and conspiracy theory that is described in the Nazi millennialism of Miguel Serrano (Goodrick-Clarke 2003, Gardell 2003) coincides with many of the touchstones mentioned by Barkun. Similarly, the blending of strands of white nationalism with new religions, especially neo-paganisms (Goodrick-Clarke 2003; Gardell 2003; Shekhovtsov 2009; Wilson 2012) compound this tendency. This paper will argue that the emergence of white nationalist social media strategies such as ‘#whitegenocide’ signify a discourse that is more indebted to millennialism and violent apocalyptic traditions than straightforwardly political roots. In framing neo-fascist white nationalism in this way fresh ways of understanding and responding to it become available.

2.00 – 2.30

Rogelio Scott, Rovira i Virgili University, Spain. (Via Skype)

Carlos Raez, San Marcos National University, Peru.

Surviving the (Maoist) Apocalypse: Millenarian Responses to Political Violence by Two rural Congregations (Peru, 1980-2000).

During the Peruvian Internal Armed Conflict (1980-2000), rural neo-Judeo-Christian churches and charismatic congregations were targeted by the Shining Path (SP), a Maoist terrorist organization. The violence unfolded by the SP provoked armed responses by the churches and/or massive exodus to flee the violence. In both scenarios, accounting for the events in a coherent fashion became an almost impossible task, even under the churches’ traditional discourses. Therefore, several religious groups opted to adapt millenarian and apocalyptic discourses that both gave shape to the understanding of (what they perceived as) the end of times, and justified the actions they undertook. In this paper we compare two millenarian responses towards communist political violence. The first one comes from peasant neo-Pentecostal churches that undertook a military confrontation against the SP. They framed the situation as a sign of the end of times, and took SP militants as “armies of the Antichrist”. Pentecostal churches organized armed militias under the blessing of the Holy Spirit which –their narrative says- guaranteed their victory in the battlefield. After the demise of the SP, religious discourse became the main semiotic component to reorganize community life and power. The second case concerns the Israelites of the New Universal Pact (AEMINPU), a religious congregation of Peruvian origins that bases its faith in the Old Testament. The ‘Israelites’ were exposed to constant harassment by the SP due to their faith, but also due to the Israelites’ agrarian entrepreneurships and cooperatives, which were seen by the Maoists as ‘reactionary’, against the spirit of Revolution. Their narrative traces an exodus of the whole Israelite community. This flee from violence accounts their failed attempts to persuade the guerrilla to accept a truce. The comparison of both narratives will shed light on the different directions that millenarian movements can take after being confronted with apocalyptic scenarios.

2.30 – 3.00

Joseph Webster, Lecturer in Anthropology, Queen’s University Belfast.

Violent Endings

This paper examines dispensationalist imaginings of ‘the last of the last days’, with a particular focus on their acutely violent character. For the Brethren and for Jehovah’s Witnesses, the most convincing ‘signs’ of the imminent apocalypse are violent ones. By drawing on a mixture of biblical and extra-biblical tropes and images – flames, horns, bullets, missiles – dispensationalism creates a semiotic landscape filled with natural, supernatural, and ‘man-made’ disaster. By analysing different images of ‘violent endings’ in circulation among the Brethren and the Witnesses, this paper asks two questions, namely, what are the effects of such violent imaginings, and what imaginings exists on the other side of such violence, after its perpetration? Drawing inspiration from Rodney Needham’s work on dual symbolic classification, this paper argues that dispensationalist violence demands its own partial disappearance by setting itself against its symbolic opposite of millennial healing, only to then reappear in a final act of dichotomising violence through a ‘renovation of the earth by fire’.

3.00 – 3.30 Break

3.30: Discussant comments and roundtable chaired by Christopher Rowland (retired in 2014 as Dean Ireland’s Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford).

Sample questions for discussion:

What do we mean by ‘apocalyptic’ and ‘millenarian’? What is the relationship between ‘millenarianism’ and ‘messianism’?

Does ‘millenarianism usually lead to violence? If it doesn’t, what circumstances prevent it? Why does millenarianism endorse violence anyway?

Does the history of the Southcottian movement have anything to contribute to the understanding of disappointed eschatological hope?

5.00 Finish.

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9 Newnham Road


MK40 3NX

United Kingdom

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