Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Killing Christians, Christians Killing: : Violence, Trauma, and Identity in early Christianity

An international conference, sponsored by the DFG, the Max-Weber-Kolleg, and the University of Erfurt, titled Killing Christians, Christians Killing: Violence, Trauma, and Identity in early Christianity, was held from July 14–16 at the Augustinerkloster in Erfurt. Organized by Prof. Katharina Waldner and Dr. Jennifer Otto, the conference aimed to challenge both popular and academic stereotypes of early Christians as predominantly the victims of persecution. Participants were invited to explore texts that depict Christians as both victims and perpetrators of violence, as well as sympathizers and unwitting beneficiaries of structurally violent systems, and as individuals and communities that grappled with ethical dilemmas and struggled to determine the legitimacy of violent actions undertaken for salutary ends.

The discussion was opened by Dirk Rohmann (University of Sheffield), whose paper “Attitudes on Violence in the Roman Empire: Between Pagan and Christian Worlds” provided a valuable overview of relevant texts and terminology from the late Roman period. Papers by Markus Vinzent (King’s College London/Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt), pointing out the 'killing of friends' (Justin Martyr), and Eve-Marie Becker (Aarhus University) read early Christian narratives in light of the trauma of the Bar Kochba War and the Jewish Revolt, respectively. Sigurvin Larus Jonsson (Aarhus University) proceeded with an interpretation of James 5:6 (“You have condemned and murdered to righteous one, who does not resist you”) as a reflection of the widely-circulated traditions of the martyrdom of James. In their papers, “Origen and the Ethics of Execution” and “A Violent Salvation: Stigma, Discipline, and Masculinity in the Teachings of Silvanus,” Jennifer Otto (Universität Erfurt) and Blossom Stefaniw (Martin-Luther-Universität Halle) highlighted early Christian apologies for benevolent/disciplinary violence. Emiliano Urciuoli (Max-Weber-Kolleg, Erfurt) challenged the easy elision of the concepts of martyrdom and sacrifice in scholarship on early Christianity. Katharina Waldner (Universität Erfurt) introduced trauma studies as a conceptual lens for interpreting Eusebius’s The Martyrs of Palestine, while Gianna Zipp (Universität Mainz) outlined Lactantius’s rhetoricized depiction of persecution in his De mortibus persecurotum.  A final session, titled “Politics, Power, and Violence in Late Antiquity” included papers from Elizabeth De Palma Digeser (University of California at Santa Barbara) on the effects of collusion during persecution on communities of survivors, by Mark Edwards (Oxford University) on Constantine’s use of religious violence, and by Jamie Wood (University of Lincoln) on the integration of Christian ritual into military training handbooks of late antiquity.

The organizers look forward to publishing the results of the conference as a volume in the series Studia Patristica (Peeters, Leuven) in 2018.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

A conference is taking place on 'Dalit and Religion'

What  is  it  that  Dalits  seek  in  religion?  How  do  Dalits  perceive  themselves  in  relation  to  something Divine and , against this background, to other humans? How do they deal with the denial  of  access  to  certain  religious  practices  and  sites?  How  do  they  understand  religion?  How  do  the  problems  of  conceptualizing  “religion”  reflect  in  the  ways  the  relations  and  problems of Dalits with religion are being understood? What are the Dalits’ understandings of suffering  and  umiliation  on  the  one  hand,  of  social  recognition  and  human  dignity  on  the  other?  
Dalits  and  other  disadvantaged  people  had  to  negotiate  modes  of  religiosity  and  religious  power  structures  continuously,  as  they  had  to  negotiate  livelihood  issues ,  political  structures  and  the  relationships  with  dominant  others.  Dalits  had  to  face  humiliation  and  the  denial  of  acceptance  as  fellow  human  beings,  but  also  encountered  problems  when  trying  to  establish  spaces for themselves. At the same time, Dalits invented ideas, practices and agendas of their own.   Throughout   Indian   history  the   socio-religious   hierarchy   and   the   dominant,   even   hegemonic  religious  strands  and  traditions  have  been  accompanied  by  counter-imaginaries,  which  represent  universalistic  concepts  of  their  own,  but  which,  obviously,  have  never  become dominant.  
 The conference wants to view the field of religion in India from an angle that differs from the perspectives  enshrined  in  the  dominant  religious  discourses  that  control  the  important  religious   institutions.   At   the   same   time,   the   category   Dalit   covers   a   wide   range   of   discriminated, but differently positioned groups of people.  
The  relationship  between  Dalits  and  religiosity  has  so  far  not  been  systematically  discussed.  Starting  to  address  this  question  is  of  core  relevance  for  an  understanding  of  how  people  experiencing systematic discrimination engage with the world, as it is for an understanding of modern India.

For further information:

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Urs Lindner presents a working paper on 'Class and Caste: What is the Scope of Ascriptive Inequality?'

The paper is a side product of my research project on affirmative action. It is written for a German volume (Marxismus und Soziologie, edited by Tine Haubner and Tilman Reitz). Motivated by the fact that class inequalities are commonly not targeted by affirmative action programs, my paper deals with the question of to what extent class relations can themselves acquire an ascriptive form. In a first step, the distinctiveness between modern class relations and ascriptive inequalities is established with respect to the work of Marx and Weber. Secondly, I discuss how three Marxo-Weberian approaches elaborate on this problem: Charles Tilly’s theory of ‚categorical inequalities’, Nancy Frasers recognition-redistribution approach and Veit Bader’s and Albert Benschop’s ‚protheory of social inequality’. I argue that Bader/Benschop’s approach is the most promising one as it complicates the distinction between class and ascriptive inequalities with that of positional and allocative inequalities. In a third step, I shortly exemplify my considerations by taking into account transformations of the Indian caste system.