CfP: Conceptualizing Sacred Space(s): Perspectives from the Study of Culture. Giessen, 23–25 May 2018

Call for Papers: Conceptualizing Sacred Space(s): Perspectives from the Study of Culture. Giessen, 23–25 May 2018

International Symposium, International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC), University of Giessen.
Keynotes by Prof. Birgit Meyer (Utrecht) and Prof. Michael Stausberg (Bergen).

Recent events such as the political struggle and legal disputes over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in the United States have powerfully moved the issue of the “sacredness” of space/place/territory into the center of public attention in America and beyond. Raising awareness about the “desacralization” of “sacred sites” as well as the potential contamination of water, Native American groups were joined by environmental activists worldwide in their public fight against the pipeline’s routing over the territory of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. This nexus of collective imagination, space and social praxis invites a series of key questions concerning the construction and deconstruction of “sacred space” as well as notions of “the sacred”. Moreover, struggles over spatial configurations of the sacred are often closely related to key concerns in the study of culture and connected to issues of power, ownership, authority, identity, mediation, political claims over territory and/or social practice(s).

This symposium promotes the concept of “sacred space(s)” as a point of entry for bringing together recent theoretical work on space and place with the study of culture and the study/anthropology of religion. Furthermore, the symposium explores the changing, and at times conflicting, imaginations of the “sacred” and their role in the making and unmaking of specific spatial configurations and features in past and present contexts. The goal of the symposium is twofold: first, it aims at fostering an interdisciplinary dialogue in the study of spatial(izing) formations of the “sacred” and its cultural dynamics. Second, by focusing on the multiple layers, inner frictions and dynamics of “sacred space(s)”, it attempts to challenge an analytical vocabulary that is based on conventional dichotomies such as religious/secular, traditional/modern or sacred/profane.

Proposals on both conceptual papers and more empirically oriented studies that discuss the (un)making of “sacred space(s)” as well as the spatial constructions of “the sacred” and processes of (de-)sacralization over time and space are invited.

The full call for papers can be downloaded here.

Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words and a short CV by 1 November 2017 to Jens Kugele and Katharina Stornig. Participants will be notified by mid-November.

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