“I Have Chosen the Flaming Death”: The Forgotten Self‐Immolation of Alice Herz

Coburn, Jon (2018) “I Have Chosen the Flaming Death”: The Forgotten Self‐Immolation of Alice Herz. Peace & Change, 43 (1). pp. 32-60. ISSN 0149-0508

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/pech.12273

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“I Have Chosen the Flaming Death”: The Forgotten Self‐Immolation of Alice Herz

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Abstract

In March 1965, 82‐year‐old peace activist Alice Herz immolated herself in opposition to US military action in Vietnam. Her protest followed similar public displays by Vietnamese Buddhists, but was an unprecedented form of protest in the United States. However, while it provoked sympathy from international observers, the US public reacted with ambivalence. Herz's legacy subsequently became overshadowed after Norman Morrison's identical protest in November that year. This article accounts for the multiple reactions to Alice Herz's forgotten self‐immolation. It examines both the international and domestic context to highlight the cultural norms, political context, gender dynamics, and performative factors that influenced responses to the act. Using Morrison's example to show how responses were formed, this article reveals that because Herz did not receive contemporary interest she has been overlooked historically.

Keywords:Suicide, Protest, Women, Gender, Herz, Self-Immolation, Buddhism, Quaker, Vietnam War, Memory, Peace
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V243 South East Asian History
L Social studies > L320 Gender studies
L Social studies > L252 War & Peace studies
T Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects > T700 American studies
L Social studies > L321 Women's Studies
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V232 USA History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V147 Modern History 1950-1999
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:37240
Deposited On:27 Sep 2019 10:33

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