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CALL. 15.01.2018: [SESSION 2] One, Many, and the City: Making and Unmaking Boundaries in Urban Reli




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University of Bern (Bern, Switzerland)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli ; Asuman Lätzer-Lasar

INFO: web


It has become obvious that ancient Mediterranean urban spaces, roughly from the Hellenistic age to Late Antiquity, hosted and accommodated many religious groups showing very different patterns of interactions (“group styles”) and different models of arrangement of the memberships that individuals could activate in different contexts (“lateral” or “hierarchical” arrangements producing situational or normative identities). Yet, these phenomena being now thoroughly investigated, the research has hitherto overlooked the role played by the city in the production of: a) clearly demarcated religious groups; b) fuzzily bordered religious groups; and c) the related religious expertises which were necessary to sustain and instantiate such different grouping solutions for navigating the plurality of religious options.

We do argue that urban spaces are neither inert backdrops nor neutral arenas for the rise of religious diversity and the staging of plurality of “group styles in action” (Lichterman 2009). Urban “spatiality” rather helps to visualize the fact that social relations do not only craft space but “are shaped by the (very) space in which they occur.” (Maier 2017). From this perspective, it becomes possible to ask whether and to what extent multiple religious affiliations, as well as the formation of normative religious memberships, were ways to respond to some specific socio-spatial features of urban spaces. The dense and scattered accumulation of diverse religious signs, the concentrated heterogeneity of signs-producers, carriers, and consumers, the intellectualisation of religious traditions and professionalisation of religious functions as strategies for advancing life-chances and status within a social order: these were all full-blown ‘urban-religious’ characteristics that were likely to impact on the way grouping processes were designed, habitualised, negotiated, and contested.

We welcome papers from ancient religious studies, ancient history, archaeology and related disciplines focusing on Mediterranean antiquity and dealing with every religious tradition documented in the circum-Mediterranean space within a period spanning around eight centuries (3rd century BCE – 5th century CE). The aim of this panel is to bring the “causal effectivity” (Massey 1993) of urban spaces to the fore in the analysis of the three main foci of the conference theme: a) self-conceptions, self-presentations and identity discourses within religious communities and traditions; b) discussion of conformity and non-conformity; c) religious diversity and the multiplicity of religious practices and representations.

The deadline for the submission of abstracts is January 15.

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