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"Blood Will Have Blood"

A Study in Indian Political Ritual

Jacob Copeman

Keywords: blood donation; death; Hinduism; India; kingship; memory; ritual; sacrifice

This article considers the significance of the incorporation of blood donation as a widespread feature of commemorative political rituals in India. It places the rituals in the context of the current campaign in India to replace paid with non-remunerated donation, and explains how this campaign has led to the circulation of a store of ethical capital that the ritual organizers endeavor—through these blood-shedding commemorations—to capture for political ends. It is argued that there is nothing purely political about memorial blood donation—that its performance relies upon certain established religious themes in order to achieve political efficacy, and that this works both ways. The article highlights the role of blood donation in facilitating bodily transactions across and between different temporal locations, and finishes with a case study that demonstrates the risk involved in these rituals of remembrance.

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