EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010


Wounding, meaning, being: managing experience, knowledge and time in contemporary religiosity

Location Arts Classhall A
Date and Start Time 26 Aug, 2010 at 11:30


Ruy Blanes ((CSIC) / (INCIPIT)) email
Keith Egan (National University of Ireland) email
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Long Abstract

This workshop invites scholars to tackle issues of experience, knowledge and time in religious contexts. More specifically, we seek to question how the materiality of temporal orientations (i.e. memory and historicity, but also futurology and prediction) entangles with stances of religious experience such as embodiment, memory and transmission, producing specific (successful, critical or precarious) forms of knowing and being that pertain to both the religious and extra-religious sphere.

More specifically, we are thinking about a range of sacred rhythms that join and demarcate self and world, from textual reading (Engelke) and fixation/innovation, personal biographies, hagiographies and ritual calendar celebrations to prediction, prophecy and soteriology, religious interpretations of 'secular history', etc. We are particularly interested in discussing these sacred rhythms in the context of a dialectic of suffering (as an orientation towards the past) and hope (as a projection into the future) that orients the 'lived texture of everyday life' (Orsi) within processes of religious meaning-making. We seek to explore, then, how selves and world intersect in contemporary religiosity to shape the embodiment, experience, imagination and expression of our shared 'struggle for being' (M. Jackson).

Discussant: Ramon Sarró

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.


How to reach tomorrow: hope, future and everyday religious practice among muslims in urban Burkina Faso

Author: Liza Debevec (International Water Management Institute)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper draws on long term fieldwork in urban Burkina Faso, to analyze how Muslims negotiate their place in their community by reference to images of 'the future'.  Through an analysis of the everyday religious practice and individual personal narratives of Muslim men and women, both those who are devout and those who do not practice regularly, the paper will show that the future is understood both to be 'of this world,' and in 'Paradise', which in the local language translates as 'tomorrow' (sini).  These two concepts of the future, I argue, are inextricably linked to local concepts of hope and divine blessing, which both influence people's action in the present.

Contemporary living in very old places: stability, instability and Orthodox Christian historical subjectivity in Zege, Ethiopia

Author: Thomas Boylston (University of Edinburgh)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper considers Orthodox Christian religious historicity in the Zege Peninsula, Ethiopia. While informants often downplayed recent historical events, they continuously emphasised the 13th century hagiographic history of the peninsula and the founding of its seven monasteries. Strategies of silence concerning recent political history may be pragmatic ways to avoid painful or controversial memories. However, I argue that the foregrounding of local religious history is a living, dynamic phenomenon that enables people to construct themselves as insulated, to a degree, from uncertainties and traumas of Ethiopia's recent past. The monasteries retain profound contemporary relevance in Zege through their continued ritual activity, their centrality as destinations of pilgrimage and tourism, and their vast influence on local ecology. The lived history imbued in the monasteries offers Zege Christians means of self-understanding, and projections of future stability, that more contingent and apparently 'contemporary' political histories cannot provide.

Christian Baptist utopian religiosity among Karen refugees in the Thailand-Burma borderland

Author: Alexander Horstmann (Tallinn University)  email
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Long Abstract

In this paper, I would like to draw on my research on the expression of Christian Baptist religiosity in Karen refugee camps across the Thialand-Burma border. The suffering of the Karen in the Burma war zone provides the background for a powerful narrative of Karen Baptists to mobilize Karens Christians for "the struggle" of the Karen angels against the Burmese devil as well as international solidarity networks. Unable to win a dirty war by military means, the Karens draw on utopian Christianity to close the wounds of the past and raise hope for the future. From Thailand, the Karen Christians re-organize themselves in utopian Christian communities to re-enter Burma and provide humanitarian assistance as well as spiritual guidance to the internally displaced people and the wounded. They interpret the spiritual warfare as blessing in disguise and God's mysterious plan to save the Karen and prepare them for heaven. The paper will illustrate this from ethnographic fieldwork in various spaces in the Thailand-Burma borderland.

Reading the Palestinian Islamic novel

Author: Esmail Nashif (Ben-Gurion University)  email
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Long Abstract

The aim of the presentation is to compare the national and the religious experiences of political imprisonment in the Palestinian context. One way to tackle this issue is to compare the Palestinian national and Islamic prison literatures. And by this comparison I will try to locate the differences in the form and the formation processes in the narrative structure of the Islamic narrative and the national one. I will argue that there are different textual apparatuses that resituate the religious subjectivity vis a vis the colonizer and the national ones.

The presentation will focus on the analysis of a novel written in the prison by Walid al Hodaly. Walid is one of the prominent Palestinian political prisoners who is affiliated with the Islamic movements in Palestine. He has written many novels and collections of short stories. And his novels, stories, and essays are circulated and read widely in the Islamic as well as the national reading public in Palestine as well as in parts of the Arab worlds. Although one could locate previous and more hybrid forms of narrativity that could be classified as Islamic, it seems that Walid has been part of a new generation of Palestinian Islamic writers who gave this type of narration structure its final shape.

Experience and expectation - interpreting religious experience narratives in the Hare Krishna movement

Author: Hrvoje Čargonja (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb)  email
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Long Abstract

In my presentation I would like to discuss a possibility for an interpretational model of the narratives of religious experience based on my ethnographic research of religious experience within Hare Krishna movement conducted in India, Croatia and Great Britain as a part of my ongoing PhD project.

I have identified episodic, sequential and habitual types of narratives of miraculous events in personal lives of devotees which confirm the continuum of pre-objective and objective experience (Csordas, Throope) and demonstrate the role of memory as intermediate buffer between experiencing and narrative.

With notions of Ricoeur's views on memory and by using terms like "space of experience" and "horizons of expectation" borrowed from Reinhardt Koselleck I will attempt to show how communal dynamics of personal, scriptural and hagiographic stories of experience together with specific rhetoric of expectation, focuses expectation and plays a crucial role in the process of the experiencing itself. Expectation derived from cultural religious bedding stimulates and shapes the direct experience, with meaning conveyed through individual, social and political "bodies" (Scheper Hughes). Thus experiencing and expectation reinforce each other and accommodate for both individual agency and cultural conditioning of the experience.

'The broken spirit': suffering and emotions in evangelic liturgical services

Author: Max Ruben Ramos (University of Coimbra)  email
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Long Abstract

My main aim in this paper is to show how the emotions experienced in prayer rituals of conversion and "spiritual renewal" are a mechanism that contributes to a genuine and real Christian spiritual experience and opens the way to acquire an axial Christian-Pentecostal virtue: the broken spirit. Through my fieldwork, with Nazarene Church, I will illustrate how the theological postulates of Richard Baxter are still very current. In the seventeenth century, Baxter argued that feelings of grief and shedding of tears are fundamental to conversion and spiritual development. I will explore how, together with the idea of suffering and shedding of tears, comes a strong rhetoric of sincerity and authenticity in the relationship of the believer with his divinity, as well as occurs in social relations. Through the anthropological literature on emotions and religion, I will discuss the tenuous relationship between suffering, emotion, embodiment and experience in liturgical services.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.