Sunday, 26 July 2015

Space, Place and Migration in Modern Art - Jutta Vinzent gives the Salek Minc Lecture 2015

Space, Place and Migration in Modern Art During the 1930s thousands of refugees left Nazi Germany; many went to Britain, so that London became a haven for modern art. It was also in London that Circle: An International Survey of Constructive Art (1937) was published, a major book with contributions from leading avant-garde artists. Edited by Naum Gabo, Ben Nicholson and Leslie Martin, the publication dealt foremost with the topic of space, namely in sculpture, painting, architecture and also in design. This paper will consider conceptions of space in the 1930s and asks how such interest was reflective of migrants’ experiences of changing places and expanding spaces. It will argue that space, different from other Formalist aspects, was a feature relevant beyond a mere Formalist analysis that may stretch to the formulation of a Spatial Art History.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Dorit Messlin: On a typology of religious individualisation

The paper to be given (7.7.2015 at the MWK) presents several typological reflections and methodical concepts which can be used for researching and reconstructing religious individualisation. This begs the question of what purpose a typology of religious individualisation serves and what purpose it should serve in the context of the Kollegforschergruppe (KFG) research programme. Presumably due to the heterogeneous nature of the fields of research, it is not possible to determine a single definition of religious individualisation; therefore a potential emphasis is placed on the further theoretical profiling of the concept of entanglement as a methodical point of the KFG research programme. In addition, typological criteria will be discussed which are deemed particularly relevant for the analysis of figures and dynamics of religious individualisation. Some examples will be used to illustrate these (the Jesuit and moral theologian Baltasar Gracián, 1601-1658).

Friday, 3 July 2015

Anna-Katharina Rieger's paper: 'Material Limits: The Rock Scarp at Caesarea Philippi (Mount Hermon) as Liminal Line in the Communication with the Gods' (discussed on on Monday, 6.7.2015, 2:30pm)

Anna-Katharina Rieger

In antiquity, space as the natural and cultural environment of individuals and groups is embedded on the one hand in a globalised world due to trading networks, extending empires or warfare. On the other hand, mobility of persons in daily life as well as in a life cycle was limited and spatial experiences range on a micro-regional scale: Social, gender, age or economic and professional reasons might enhance (nomads, military, merchants, administrators, men, prime-aged) or diminishing (farmers, women, old/children) the range of activity that persons or groups had.  In this dual context of the regional and the global character of experiences, the question of lived ancient religion comes into play in so far as the action range influences the religious activities and experiences a person or group could conduct and gain. Thus, the study aims at questioning the dichotomies of “regional/global”, “indigenous/Graeco-roman”, “sacred/profane” by focusing on the actual religious environment persons and groups could experience: Location, layout and architectural design as well as objects enlivening shared sacred spaces differed depending on the physical space people lived in and their group affiliation. Especially sacred places in the Roman Near East, in short a region of intraregional crossroads and religious variety, allows for investigating scales, range, mobility, appropriation and interaction by different agents in and of shared sacred spaces, embracing the impacts of spaces on persons and vice versa.  The study approaches sacred contexts in the Roman Near East by crossing borders in terms of life styles and regions as well as by encompassing different material evidence, such as architecture, epigraphy, artifacts and landscape features, connectivity and the group specific relations, the places are embedded in. Religious activities and their spatial setting, handed over to group members or younger generations as customs form a religious body of imprinted memories, articulated in rituals, their interpretation, reassertion, amalgamation or situational transformation reflected in their materiality. In the physically distinguished regions of Kyrrhestike, Hauran (Syria) and Mount Hermon (Libanon/Israel/Syria), often looked at separately, the layout of shared sacred spaces, their material environment and the persons and social networks interacting in these places will be contextualized and compared in order to open up a perspective on how spaces as environment of religious life (from a single niche to sumptuous temples or open sacred spaces) were used situationally, how they were enlivened by objects, thus creating the setting and counterpart of any activity, and who frequented them, integrating to these spaces the ways of communication and experiences of ancient individuals as agents of religion.
The paper is planned as contribution to the volume Borders, edited by Annette Weissenrieder, which brings New Testament scholars, archaeologist, egyptologists and ancient historians together. It dwells again on the cave-sanctuary of Caesarea Philippi, which I presented with a first look to it in my last Kolloquium (and on two more occasions, so that some of you already know what it is about). What I try here, is a closer look on the rock-face and the niches and inscriptions, looking for the strategies of dedicants, how to communicate with the divine powers, how to overcome the border between the human and the divine. From the point of view of the LAR-approach, the paper tries somehow to disassemble known material, in seemingly “clear” contexts (cave sanctuary, Galiliean background, etc., Graeco-Roman city surrounding), and to assemble them freshly with a close look to their contents and contexts, and infer from them to the practices and religious demands they are part of or embedded in.  I would be interested in comments on: Structure of the paper, redundancies? Modern concepts (medium) – ancient material? More material, other places to enforce the argument?  - and will be happy about any other criticism, comments or ideas.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Rubina Raja and Joerg Ruepke publish 'A Companion to the Archaeology of Religion in the Ancient World'

                                                Rubina Raja (Editor), Joerg Reupke (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-4443-5000-5
520 pages, 2015, Wiley-Blackwell

The publication of A Companion to the Archaeology of Religion in the Ancient World presents a comprehensive overview of a wide range of topics relating to the practices, expressions, and interactions of religion in antiquity, primarily in the Greco-Roman world. As the below features will underline, it is a product of the close cooperation between the editors at the Max Weber Center, University of Erfurt, one of the leading research institutes in Lived Ancient Religion, together with colleagues from around the world, covering a broad range of disciplines.
The Companion covers
• Features readings that focus on religious experience and expression in the ancient world rather than solely on religious belief
• Places a strong emphasis on domestic and individual religious practice
• Represents the first time that the concept of “lived religion” is applied to the ancient history of religion and archaeology of religion
• Includes cutting-edge data taken from top contemporary researchers and theorists in the field
• Examines a large variety of themes and religious traditions across a wide geographical area and chronological span
• Written to appeal equally to archaeologists and historians of religion

The editors:
Rubina Raja is Professor of Classical Archaeology at Aarhus University, Denmark. She has published widely on religious identities in the eastern Roman provinces, and is editor of the series Contextualising the Sacred, Lived Ancient Religion, and Palmyrenske Studier. She is the author of the monograph Urban Development and Regional Identity in the Eastern Roman Provinces, 50 BC – AD 250: Aphrodisias, Ephesos, Athens, Gerasa. She is currently working on a monograph on the religious life of the Tetrapolis region.
Jörg Rüpke is Professor of History of Religion at the University of Erfurt, Germany and director of the ERC Research Group “Lived Ancient Religion.” His books include Domi militiae (1990); Rituals in Ink (2004); Religion and Law in Classical and Christian Rome (2006); (ed.) A Companion to Roman Religion (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007); Religion of the 

Collective burnout? An interview between Richard David Precht und Hartmut Rosa

A fascinating and intensive dialogue, almost like a halt in the reflection about our present state of affairs - contrary almost to the topic of the debate - of almost three quarters of an hour about growth - speed and innovation (if you don't go back, as one can do).

So lean back and listen to Richard David Precht (author of amongst other fictional and non-fictional books Who Am I – And If So, How Many? 2011 (German version published in 2007 and translated into 32 languages) and Hartmut Rosa (Director of the Max Weber Center, University of Erfurt).

A summary of his ideas in English was presented by Pierre Maillard on Europa Star:

“Run, run always faster, not to reach an objective, but to maintain the status quo, to simply remain in the same place.” The work of German philosopher and social theorist, Hartmut Rosa, entitled Beschleunigung – Die Veränderung der Zeitstrukturen in der Moderne [to be published in English by Columbia University Press in 2012], discusses this paradox. As the pace of material, economic, and cultural life becomes ever faster, as we have conquered the instantaneity of information exchange and acquired the possibility of travelling at speeds hitherto unimaginable, we have the impression that nothing is moving, that we are simply walking on a treadmill.
Rosa explains that for the first time in 250 years, people in the Occident today do not expect a better life for their children, but fear just the opposite, that their life will be more difficult. If we want to avoid things getting worse, we must, every year, run ever faster, increase our efforts, innovate even more. The current crisis in the euro zone is a fitting demonstration. Political actions no longer tend to create a better society—no one promises that to anyone—but focus rather on staving off crises, adapting as fast as possible in order to avoid the worst. While we do not cease to gain time, to accelerate the flow of money, the rhythm of production, the exchange of information, the movement of goods and people—while everyday we gain time over time—we still have the impression that there is less and less time, whether on a personal, social, economic, or political level.
It is this ambivalent logic created by the acceleration of time that Hartmut Rosa seeks to describe.
Rupture of the horizon
Hartmut Rosa does not discuss the nature of time itself, leaving this question to others who, since the dawn of history, have arrived at very different answers. [In passing, we cite the most famous response of them all, coming from Saint Augustine: “What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.”]
Rosa tries to understand the effects—the political, ethical, cultural, and social consequences—of the rupture that is produced between “classic” modernity, the modernity of “progress,” happening in a linear manner and directed towards a better time (whether it be capitalist or Marxist), and the “postmodernity”, in which time is no longer seen as a course moving towards a pre-determined objective, but as an instantaneous flux flowing towards a direction that remains uncertain. The idea of acceleration was born with modernity, but we can discern two great periods or two distinct sequences. As the above projection shows (Harvey, 1990), beginning in 1850 with the invention of the steam engine, the acceleration in transportation singularly reduced space, even gradually “annihilating” it. In this progressive conquest of space-time, the universal coordination of clocks played a central regulating role. [It was not by chance that Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT, was adopted for the first time in 1847 by the Railway Clearing House, before it spread out to the entire world.]
For examples of this radical transformation of space, we can simply look at our observations when we walk through a space that we can touch or feel, or travel in a car on a motorway where the passing space becomes no more than an abstraction, tracing out a line that we pass over as quickly as possible. For the passenger in an aeroplane, this abstraction of space becomes complete, since the trajectory is no longer calculated in miles but rather in hours. The person in the car or in the plane is, however, heading towards a horizon, towards a goal. In both cases, they are following a linear path of time.

Read more

For those who are interested in Rosa's work, click here.