call for papers: Converting sacred space : 10-12 oct 2012

Conference on Converting Sacred Space

Call for papers

Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Home, Aix-en-Provence, FRANCE

10-11 oct 2012

Reality of human life – still – requires religions to be anchored in space. According to a famous dictum of Mircea Eliade, such sacred space has to be revealed. Such a concept presumes, however, an ideal world, an absolute beginning, empty space, and a virgin soil. Most religions come into being in a world whose sacred geography is already established. Most places have seen several religions. Many sanctuaries changed their religion several times. The Christianization of temples is a frequently named example. Turning churches into mosques, museums or cinemas is another one. To what extent do regions and societies whose religious allegiance changes preserve or not sacred space? Under which circumstances are buildings or space preserved or rearranged and when do religions choose to consecrate a new different space? Which regional differences exist in one and the same religion with regard to the attitude to preserve or not sacred space? How do converted sanctuaries differ from newly constructed buildings of the same religion? How do religions handle the conversions of buildings and precincts with regard to boundaries of sacred space? Can we observe different patterns with regard to slow transformation processes vis-à-vis conquests? The aim is to study the conversion of sites of worship in the context of the encounter between religions with regard to continuity in topography, function, rite and/or symbolism.

We invite papers dealing with concrete examples of any Mediterranean religion and any period (from prehistory to the 21st century). Any type of “conversion” can be envisaged: from one divinity to another inside ancient polytheistic religions, the transition from “polytheism” to “monotheism” (or back), the profanation of space previously used for worship. Also any type of transformation can be the object of the analysis: from the simple adoption of preexistent sacred space to complete transformations, destruction, partial reconstruction, addition of annexes, etc.

Papers (that can be given in French or English) should make a wider claim about a certain religion, region or period. Contributions should devote some part of the discussion to the specific question as to how the boundaries of sacred space are redefined in the process of conversions of sanctuaries from one religion or denomination to another or from sacred to profane. “Boundaries” is taken in a wide sense meaning the outer limits of the precinct, the inner divides between areas of varying levels of sacredness, or the setting of the sanctuary in the urban or rural environment. As one of our aims is interdisciplinary dialogue, we welcome proposals from all relevant disciplines, in particular anthropology, archaeology, geography, history and law.

Potential participants are asked to send abstracts of about 500 words (French or English) and a concise description of your general research to Emmanuelle Rosso or Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra until May 26 A certain number of speakers can receive funding for travel and lodging. Please indicate additional funding from your organizations if available.

Emmanuelle Rosso : rosso_emma@yahoo.fr

Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra: stoekl@mmsh.univ-aix.fr


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