This article argues that martyrdom carries with it a destituent power. To this end, it examines the difference between martyrdom and sacrifice in five sections. The first four discuss sacrifice in French anthropology; Bataille's proposal of an “unemployed negativity”; the sacrificial question is reframed by the emergence of contemporary capitalism as a “debt without gift” ; martyrdom as a form‐of‐life that can destitute sacrifice by being open to the gift without the debt produced by the contemporary sacrificial machine. We call this gift absolute because it is not just any gift but one capable of destituting the gift‐debt system. Drawing from Giorgio Agamben's theorization of the witness, the final section shows how the subjective structure of martyrdom is that of the witness insofar as a gesturality occurs in it that takes the form of a desubjectification.

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