Symposium & Inaugural Lecture: Materiality, Mediation and the Study of Religion

Materiality, Mediation and the Study of Religion

On 19 October 2012 Prof. Birgit Meyer (professor of Religious Studies) will be giving her inaugural lecture on ‘Mediation and the Genesis of Presence. Towards a Material Approach of Religion.’ This will be the concluding contribution to a conference on ‘Materiality, Mediation, and the Study of Religion’, held on 18-19 October in Utrecht.

Department of Religious Studies and Theology, Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University
Convener: Birgit Meyer
18 & 19 October 2012

Instead of having become obsolete through modernization and secularization, religion has continued unabated to transform into new varieties and this poses major theoretical challenges for its study. The central aim of this symposium is to contribute to developing new perspectives for the study of religion from the angle of materiality and mediation. Taking as a starting point that religion is a mundane as well as world-making social-cultural phenomenon, the main concern of the symposium is to explore how religion becomes concrete and palpable through people, their practices and use of things, and is part and parcel of politico-aesthetic power structures.

This symposium places center stage bodies, pictures, objects, and texts – all pivotal for processes of (religious) world-making. Being authorized as material media with a certain task and purpose, bodies, pictures, objects, and texts are located right at the heart of current inquiries into the interface of “materiality” and “mediation.” They are embedded in sets of practices and modes of sensation and experience. Bringing together scholars with different disciplinary backgrounds, this symposium is envisioned as a multidisciplinary platform for debating and rethinking the study of religion in our time.

Attendance to the symposium is free, but it is necessary to register because the number of seats is limited. Please send an e-mail to Jeannette Boere, Trans 14, 3512 JK Utrecht, tel. 030 – 253 2079)

Program (subject to revision)

18 October 2012
Venue: Sweelinckzaal, Drift 21, Utrecht University

9.15-9.30: Welcome

Mattijs van de Port Religion and the Body-That-Cannot-Be-Told

Anne-Marie Korte Dis/closed Bodies: Gender and Sexuality as Markers of Contemporary Religious Controversies

Discussant: Marleen de Witte

Christian Lange Singing, Touching and Eating the Qur??n: Bodily and Material Aspects of Scripture in Islamic traditions

Jojada Verrips Speaking and Singing, or how Orthodox Calvinists Tune Their Bodies

Discussant: Petra Gehring

12.15-13.45: Lunch

David Morgan, Religious Studies, Networking Vision: Ways of Seeing and the Study of Religious Visuality

Bob Becking Materializing the Divine in Ancient Israel

Discussant: Alexandra Grieser

Christiane Kruse How to Believe in Contemporary Art? The Question of Spirit in Works of Annish Kapoor and Olafur Eliasson

Ann-Sophie Lehman A Hair’s Breadth: Interstices between Medium, Body and Belief in Jan van Eyck’s Adam and Eve Panels of the Ghent Altarpiece

Discussant: Simon O’ Meara

Peter van der Veer What if Everything is Destroyed? Iconoclasm and Embodied Memory

Patricia Spyer Special Effects: Scale, Animacy, Presence

Discussant: Peter Pels

19 October 2012
Venue: Academiegebouw, Domplein, Utrecht University

Jo Spaans Beneath the Pulpit. Church Buildings and How They Shaped Protestant Religion from the Seventeenth Century to the Present

Matthew Engelke “Not Mine, not Mine”: On the Coffin Question in Humanist Funerals

Discussant: Joris van Eijnatten

Patrick Eisenlohr Materialities of Religious Discourse

Terje Stordalen Emancipating Bodies, Artefacts, and Figurations from the Textual Gaze

Discussant: Eric Ottenheijm

12.15-13.45 lunch

Pamela Klassen Cosmologies of Mediation: How Stories and their Tellings Make the World

Ann Rigney Materialising Memories? Objects, Narratives and the Disappeared

Discussant: Johan Goud

16.15-17.00 Inaugural lecture Birgit Meyer: Mediation and the Genesis of Presence. Towards a Material Approach of Religion

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