Monday, 23 April 2018

The Max-Weber-Kolleg meets for its annual away day

This year, the MWK fellows meet for their annual away day at Neudietendorf, between Erfurt and Gotha, Germany.

(Bettina Hollstein, Jörg Rüpke, Hartmut Rosa)

After a short introduction by the director of the MWK, Hartmut Rosa, Uta Tellermann gave a paper on 'economy as culture' to discuss Max Weber and how his ideas impact on today's discourse, particularly in cultural economics. The paper was followed by an intensive discussion on how to relate these concepts.

The late afternoon was spend on the reading and discussing the draft proposal of a major grant application for a SFB (Sonderforschungsbereich) in the area of 'property' ('Eigentum').

Further topics to be dealt with are a number of internal structures and research projects (Fuchs/Renzi on ICAS:MP „Metamorphoses of the Political“, Kleeberg/Mulsow an 'Truth',  Haakonssen/Gango on 'Natural Law'.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Diana Pavel is going to present a working paper on 'Influencing Religious Experience: the Etruscan Altar and Aspects of Accessibility and Visibility'

The current paper represents a draft of one of the chapters of my project thesis that focuses on providing an encompassing perspective regarding the two main aspects of accessibility and visibility concerning the presence of the altar.
The first part of the paper will focus on the use of the archaeological record in interpreting past religious experience and it will discuss how the characteristics of the altar manage to structure the audience and influence this (individual) religious experience.
The second part of the paper will present a number of study cases in order to properly investigate how the aspects of visibility and accessibility around the altar reflect the audience and how they might impact the self-world relations.

Julietta Steinhauer gives a working paper on 'Women, migration and the sacred. The evidence from the sanctuary of the Syrian gods on Delos (166-88 BCE)'

Demographic statistics from Greek cemeteries reveal that up to half of the migrant population in the Hellenistic period was female1. Yet the only comprehensive studies of the migration of individuals in antiquity are of male adults. In fact, the current communis opinio seems to assume that women, due to the dangers of mobility and ‘social cageing’ were much more constrained in their mobility than male individuals. This, while being partly true, has dissuaded scholars from examining more closely the material recording female migrants. In this article I propose reassessing the evidence by conducting a case study on the migrant experience of women on Delos during the second period of the Athenian occupation (166-88 BCE).

Jörg Rüpke publishes a new book: 'Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion'

Q & A with Jörg Rüpke An interview with Jörg Rüpke, author of  Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion

 In this ambitious and authoritative book, Jörg Rüpke provides a comprehensive and strikingly original narrative history of ancient Roman and Mediterranean religion over more than a millennium—from the late Bronze Age through the Roman imperial period and up to full-fledged
Christianization. While focused primarily on the city of Rome, Pantheon fully integrates the many religious traditions found in the Mediterranean world, including Judaism and Christianity. This generously illustrated book is also distinguished by its unique emphasis on “lived religion,” a perspective that stresses how individuals’ experiences and practices transform religion into something different from its official form. The result is a radically new picture of both Roman religion and a crucial period in Western religion—one that influenced Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and even the modern idea of “religion” itself. With its unprecedented scope and innovative approach, Pantheon is anunparalleled account of ancient Roman and Mediterranean religion.  

In a world where religion is changing its face in rapid and unexpected ways, how is Roman religion, two millennia older, similar?
Rome was perhaps the largest city of the world before the modern period. The religious practices and beliefs of a million people from all over Europe, West Asia, North Africa and occasionally beyond were as varied as religion is in today’s megacities. It is interesting to see how Roman lawmakers and
judges dealt with such a situation. And it is even more interesting to see how ‘normal’ citizens understood and used such a religious pluralism. Different gods at every corner, shrines on walls, polemical graffiti, people earning their living by selling religious goods and services, shaven heads or
loud music—there is more to discover and learn than the solemnity of the emperor having a bull killed on the Capitoline hill. 
Why did you invent a fictitious figure at the start of your history? 
Religion is about people claiming to have religious experiences and valuing religious knowledge. There is no religion if everybody thinks that their neighbors addressing a divine being is just ridiculous. But religious experiences or knowledge cannot be simply decreed. To understand the unbelievable dynamics of ancient religion—the invention of statues and monumental temples, to think that gods would enjoy horse races or selfmutilation, etc.—a historian needs to get an idea of what went on in people’s head. We will never know, but we can imagine. Rhea is an avatar to tell us what a woman at the beginning of the Iron Age might have thought. As the basis for these thoughts are archaeological traces of deposits, meals, tombs, hearths, etc. I thought it would be more honest to
invent such a speaker and her reflections instead of crediting an attested person without evidence that can be firmly ascribed to them. 
How do Judaism and Christianity figure in your book? 
I tell the story of nearly a millennium, from the 8th and 7th centuries BCE to the middle of the fourth century CE. From the Roman point of view, Jews show up in the second half of that period only, people calling themselves “Christians” even later, and Muslims are beyond the horizon. Apart from occasional troubleshooting in Judaea or Alexandria, it was only at the very end of antiquity that Jews and in particular Christians are important on a large scale. Before that they were simply a small minority. I tried to balance this. In terms of pages they are overrepresented. In terms of their significance they are massively underrepresented. 
What is your favorite god from this large ancient pantheon? 
I write about ancient religion, I don’t participate in it! But this was fascinating: ancient polytheism is not about large number of gods or a clear division of labor. It was about empowering (nearly) everybody to arrange and sometimes create their own divine helpers and addressees. If I pray at the end of an interview to Mercury with his quick tongue, to violent Mars and to Silvanus, lord of the endless woods, the interviewer should be careful…

For more information:

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Antje Linkenbach presents a working paper on 'The Power of Audibility: Contestation and Communication as Route to Cohesive Development'

Imagining ‘cohesive development’ as a new paradigm means turning away from a focus on economic growth and giving priority to an integrative, social perspective on development. The paper, therefore, focuses on three concepts – cohesion, difference, and development. In the first part the paper explores how these concepts are being defined and interpreted within the disciplines of sociology and anthropology, what are the relevant debates evolving around these concepts and how these debates merge in the paradigm of cohesive development. In the second part the article will draw attention to regionally and socially marginalized groups in India and their ‘capacity to aspire’. This section will reveal the plurality and heterogeneity of visions for a ‘good life’ and the ways how to shape the future. The paper concludes with reflections on the social and political conditions for audibility and parity of participation within the wider project of cohesive development.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Jörg Rüpke is going to present a working paper on 'Displaying Religion in Public Spaces: Neighbourhoods of a metropolis'

Materiality, and this is to say, touchability and visability of religion is of particular importance in urban contexts. In the multilayered and over- or under-determined urban space, religious practices use material forms in order to imprint a lasting religious character on some space and thus to appropriate it for temporary or permanent use. How does this work on the spatial level of neighbourhood and neighbourhood religion? My paper will explore basic mechanisms, but focus on practices in the city of Rome, namely the vici. It will take into account that for Rome in particular, the concept of ‘public’ space as an area for such religious practices is of specific interest. Religion, here, is also employed to constitute the very public character of places. Starting from a general view onto ‘quarters’ and the cult of the Lares, I will offer a new view of the institution and institutionalisation of the vicomagistri and what has been seen as the popularisation of imperial cult in the city of Rome.

Josef Römelt gives a working paper on 'Welfare promise between medicine and religion. Religious salvation expectation and medical term of healing'

At the chair moral theology and ethics” of the University of Erfurt a thesis is elaborated with the title: Medicine as salvation promises. The overtaxed health as theological-ethical problem. The work is dedicated to the question, to what extent the thesis of the health care as pseudo religionis adequate for the present society. It describes an expansion of the requirements in the health system, which reaches up qualitatively to religious connotations. Particularly in the offer of wellness etc. it sees this quantitative and above all qualitative extension of expectations on the basis of linguistic analyses into the health sector. A subsequent research is considered to address in contrast to the present empirical investigation (which was based particularly on the statements of patients with chronic or with different weightier or also banal illnesses) patients, who are confronted with acute, life-threatening illnesses. This research should mean patients whose lifetime is presumably more limited (cancer!)  and goes around making a similar questioning at those patients who are very much more directly confronted with the urgency and existential relevance by expectations of healing and welfare both in the medical and in the spiritual/religious sense.