Making Sense of Religion Performance, Art and Experience. 11th Conference of the SIEF Working Group on Ethnology of Religion

Дата начала: 22 мая 2014
Стоимость: Fee: the conference fee is 60 €, incl. conference materials, reception, coffee, lunch. Participants are responsible for travel and accommodation; there is no funding for expenses available.
Дедлайн: 15.01.2014
Место проведения: Portugal, Lisbon

Making Sense of Religion
Performance, Art and Experience

11th Conference of the SIEF Working Group on Ethnology of Religion,
Lisbon, Portugal 22-23 May, 2014

Religion has always been directly connected with embodied experience,
artistic manifestations of ritualism, and creative performances of
getting in touch with the
sacred. Classic ethnological and anthropological theory of performance
places emphasis on the ‘social dramas’, namely the actions of social
interaction in the
communicational ‘metatheatre’ (Turner 1987) of identity and status
negotiation in everyday life. Religious performance has thus been
considered as a genre of
social action, as an art that it is open and liminal, a ‘paradigm of
process’ (Schechner 1987). The study of the performative and artistic
discourses in the field
of contemporary religious practice is not new to ethnology, folklore,
anthropology and to the social sciences in general, however little
attention has been paid to
the ‘pluri-sensorial’
(Barna-Fikfak 2006, Howes 1991) character of religious experience, and
the creative transformations entailed in the process. Despite the
recognition that bodies are
mindful (Scheper-Hughes and Lock 1987), and the centrality of sensory
perception in any form of performance, art, and religious act, social
scientists continue to
ignore the role of the senses in their analyses of religious practice.

Religious experience has also been tied to other forms of social
expression and production. For example, anthropologists of spirit
possession traditions are prone
to associate the experience and content of such forms of mystical
contact to other modes of relation, such as those engendered in
oppressive socio-political and
economic contexts.
While also irreducible to this, religious practices such as spirit
mediation are often seen as ways of performatively resisting, if also
reinterpreting and
reintegrating, social realities. Performance here is read not
necessarily as a theatrical or intentionally mimetic impulse, but as the
articulation of subjectivities
through the acting, moving body and its manifold, oven covert,
registers. It is unsurprising that an emphasis has been placed in recent
anthropology on the
phenomenology (and cognition) of processes of “embodiment” or the
“mindful body”.
While classic ritual theory generated concerns with the shaping of
emotional, physical and social experience through techniques (and
disciplines) of the body and its sensorium, performance theorists have
expanded these concerns to include the role of illocutionary, aesthetic,
material and dramatic
processes in the expression of religious cosmology and its dividends.
This has also implied a shift towards recognizing the profoundly
self-reflexive, recursive
dimensions of religiosity and its manifestations.

Re-centralizing the importance of sensory perception, we call for
ethnographic and/or theoretical contributions that: a) make sense of
religion through performance
and art and b) approach performative and artistic action as religion in
a variety of sociocultural, political, and spiritual contexts.

This conference thus aims to explore themes within the ethnology of
religion, as well as within folklore-oriented studies, that speak to
their fundamental capacity
to sense which performs itself, through and with its actants, audiences,
and media. At stake is a reconsideration of the universality of
distinctions such as those between private and public religious
experiences; the experience of intimate, “real” selves versus their
performance or social construction; the existence of orthodoxies and
established ontologies in counterpoint to their diversification,
globalization, commoditization. We aim to“performance of religion does to it (corrupts it, enhances it, promotes
it, transforms it), but in what senses religion is constituted by its
virtual or inherent senses, performativities and aesthetics? We ask how
sport, technologies, artistic movements and forms of consumption, as
well as modes of social and gender contestation, reveal and articulate
religious dimensions; as well as how these can form novel configurations
of religions themselves. Taking these points in mind, some specific
topics within ethnology, anthropology and folklore studies studies we
aim to focus are:

— ritual: sensing and performing
— senses, performance and popular religious art
— trends and consume of popular religious art and social contestation
— popular religious art in past and present
— feminism, gender and religious art
— contemporary spirituality and art
— performance, heritage and religious “authenticity”

Format: the conference takes place over two days, followed by an
excursion on the third day. Paper presentations are limited to 20
minutes each, followed by ten
minutes of discussion. In total 20 paper presenters can be selected.
Colleagues who do not present a paper are welcome to participate in the
conference and its
discussions. A business meeting of the Working Group will be held during
the conference.

Organizers: the conference is organised by the NAR-Anthropology of
Religion Group of the Center for Research in Anthropology (CRIA) and the
Ethnology of Religion
Working Group of the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore

Venue: Universidade Nova de Lisboa-FCSH

Fee: the conference fee is 60 €, incl. conference materials, reception,
coffee, lunch.
Participants are responsible for travel and accommodation; there is no
funding for expenses available.

Application: submit an abstract of your paper of maximum 300 words,
together with your name, position, and institutional affiliation to Dr.
Clara Saraiva and Dr. István Povedák by January 15, 2014. The selection of the papers
will be done in collaboration
with the Board of the Working Group Ethnology of Religion. The final
selection will be communicated by February 15, 2014.

Convenors: Clara Saraiva, Diana Espírito Santo,Jenny Roussou
Contacts:,, _________________________