Making a Scene: Actor, Time, and Place

  • John Whalen-Bridge


While the movement has occurred over a four-year period, each single act occurred in time adjacent to other events, and the self-immolator chose the particular place to end her life. When we ask about the motivation of self-immolators, about whether the act can be considered Buddhist, it is good to recall that about half the acts took place by a police station, and the other half near a Buddhist temple. By my count, 24 acts of self-immolation occurred in the direct vicinity of a Chinese police station, government office, or visiting politician (Hu Jintao, in all three cases). Slightly less than twice as many events—45— took place in the proximity to a Buddhist temple, memorial stupa, or prayer ceremony. Excepting two events in which a self-immolator committed the act in a private location, all the remaining events took place in a township, at a crossroads, or at some other presumably public location.


Death Sentence Tibet Autonomous Region Chinese Official Buddhist Temple Chinese Court 
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  1. 17.
    See Robert Loeffel’s Family Punishment in Nazi Germany: Sippenhaft, Terror and Myth, 2012, and The Economist’s “North Korea’s Prison Camps: The Gulag behind the Goose-Steps,” 2012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© John Whalen-Bridge 2015

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  • John Whalen-Bridge

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