Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Kiran Sunar gives a working paper on 'Religious Individualization Through Religious Transformation: Rethinking Conversion and Disguise in Bhai Vīr Singh’s Sundarī'

This paper navigates questions of religious transformation in Sikh Punjabi writer Bhai Vīr Singh’s 1898 novel Sundarī. The text offers insight into the necessity for continued reengagement of the  conceptual ideas of religious purity and fluidity in South Asian religious traditions in the colonial period. I sketch the complexity of religious transformations in Sundarī, arguing that religious transformation, defined as conversion and as disguise, offer not only sites of religious conversation, but also spaces for questions of political and situational allegiance to emerge in a landscape that was undergoing immense flux. My questions are: how does religious transformation operate at the level of conversion and disguise in the text? How are these various transformations depicted and what can they tell us about colonial Punjab’s engagement with the making of religion? I argue that in Bhai Vīr Singh’s Sundarī, we see a marked capacity for Sikh bodies to transform at the same time that we see a strongly developed sense of Sikh identity.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Hannah Peaceman presents a working paper on 'Habermas' reference the Enlightenment and his assumption of a "Jewish-Christian tradition" - Section of the second chapter of my dissertation project'

The topic of Hannah Peaceman's PhD-project is Jewish critiques of Enlightenment and their potential for contemporary political philosophy. In this paper, Hannah Peaceman presents one section of the second chapter which serves to embed her approch in debates of political philosophy. She firstly reconstructs Habermas' interpretation of the (Dialectics of) Enlightenment. In a second step she critically reflects on his supposition of a "Jewish-Christian line of tradition" as a predecessor for deliberative democracy.

Michael Rösser is going to present a working paper on 'Colonizing Leisure? Labour, Force and Leisure at the Central Railway’s Construction Site'

This Paper has been very much inspired by the Summer Academy I am going to attend in Mombasa/ Nairobi in Kenya in September. As the Summer Academy organized by Humboldt University’s re:work – Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History attempts to integrate leisure and non-work more systematically into the global historiography of labour, this paper tries more or less the same. Not neglecting (forced) labour practices, the paper tries to identify the leisure activities of the various protagonists of labour present at the central railways construction site. Apart from (African) work(wo)men’s, also boys’ and European engineers’ and/ or Holzmann employees’ leisure activities are addressed. Although labour and leisure appear to be separate spheres at the first glance, taking a closer look reveals that labour and leisure can hardly be separated from one another. As I am using the Ego-Documents of the former ‘Cosmopolitan’ Anglo-German railway engineer Clement Gillman to deal with the relationship of labour and leisure, a comparatively large part of the paper is devoted to discuss how these sources can be addressed adequately. In this respect, I try to fuse trans-imperial
and triangular approaches with the concept of global biography.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Gabriel Abend gives a working paper on 'Making It Possible'

Martin Mulsow gives a working paper on 'A New Orient. Scholars, Objects, and the quest for Asia'

Where the pioneer scholars of the 17th century had broadened the intellectual horizon out from the study of the Bible by learning Arabic, Armenian, Coptic and Ge’ez, in the early 18th century was a push that went considerably further east, into areas which no longer belonged to the broader compass of Greek antiquity or to the Biblical context – to Persia, Bactria, India, China and the Tatar and Mongol steppes. Largely unnoticed and as it were behind the back of the early German Enlightenment, which had quite different preoccupations, young scholars such as Georg Jacob Kehr and Theophil Siegfried Bayer laboured to discover a new and considerably larger world. Kehr wrote the first monograph on an Islamic coin: a coin of the Mughal emperor Aurengzeb. The expansion by leaps and bounds of the scope of the books giving the Lord’s Prayer in exotic languages – to 60, 80 and then over 100 – is a measure of the rapidity, even explosiveness of the expansion of the horizon. It was to be a further 100 to 150 years before this linguistic explosion was gradually absorbed, and oriental studies, neatly organised into faculties, disciplines and professorial chairs, entered into calmer waters.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Giulia Pedrucci offers a working paper on 'Who protects children in the Roman religion? From whom? Some reflections concerning Carna, Ino, and Thesan, in connection with Mater Matuta'

Speaking of children protection in the Roman religion, the first goddess that comes to mind is Mater Matuta. This paper, however, does not focus directly on Mater Matuta, but on other divine figures to some extent related to her. 
The first one is Crana-Cranaë-Cardea, the nymph of the thresholds. Ovid (Fasti, 6, 101-182) recalls a myth in which Janus, in exchange for a sexual intercourse with her, gave Crana a branch of hawthorn, that had the power to ward off the bad influences from the thresholds. Crana used the plant for this purpose to protect the young Proca. She was called by his nurse, once she realized that the child was victim of striges, nocturnal winged creatures (noctis aves), which can come into the house during the night to suck infants’ blood. According to Ovid, the myth would therefore explain both the traditional use of hawthorn branches to hunt striges and the fact that Crana was considered a protective deity for children. Mc Donough 1997 links her cult to the Matralia, by emphasizing its contiguity in the Roman religious calendar: Crana was celebrated at the calends of June, just ten days after the ceremony in the temple of Mater Matuta. Moreover, Crana protected from the possible negative influences outside the threshold, that is to say outside the family unit.
Then, I will analyse Ino. The myth of Ino is a particularly intricate and disorienting one. Indeed, she is alternatively mother, step-mother, nurse, maternal aunt; in these roles, she can be good and evil, towards her own children and towards other’s people children. She exposes her offspring to danger, even though not intentionally. In general, it’s a narrative full of women who can either protect or threaten infants. There are also the Maenads, who notoriously were reputed to tear their own children limb from limb in their madness. In some versions of her narrative, we find Ino herself among the Maenads. The cult of Ino and her son Melicertes arose in Italy and they were called by the Greeks Leukothea and Palaemon, and by the Romans Matuta and Portunus. The story narrated by Ovid in the Fasti (6, 501-547) – it is said – originated the Matralia festival.
The other deity is Thesan, the Etruscan goddess connected with the Dawn, like Mater Matuta. The iconographical theme of the kidnap of the young Chefalus was particularly widespread. She seems to be an anti-curotrophic figure, in contrast with Mater Matuta, but this is not completely true. In fact, the abduction by the Dawn expresses the ancestral awareness of its danger: the sick child will escape the danger only if he manages to survive the night, and therefore the Dawn. If she returns the infant to its mother - as the maternal aunts will symbolically do after the Matralia - the baby will be safe. Indeed, Ino in the narratives concerning the foundation of Matralia bears some kind of ambiguity, as well.
My main aim is to suggest how ambivalently the ensemble of women gravitating towards an infant --- including mothers, grandmothers, maternal aunts, (wet)nurses, and divine interlocutors --- was perceived. The narratives seem to suggest that, at least theoretically, all these female figures --- even
the mother --- could be either benevolent or malevolent towards the baby. Incidentally, I will try to suggest that the Roman religious calendar from the 1st of June to the 11th of June was full of details which might allude to each other, with the aim of underlining the importance of human and divine
kourotrophia, by using the concept of intertext in literary criticism.

Bennet Bergmann is going to present a working paper on 'Meditation between midlife crisis and touching nightingale experience'

This paper is the attempt of an approach towards my empirical material consisting of interviews with meditation practitioners. One case is used to exemplarily show how to carve out the self and world relations and their connection to the meditation practice. At the end the results will be connected with the resonance theory. Therefore this paper could be read as a naive and preliminary attempt to reconstruct the case in regards to the resonance theory.

Jan Bremmer gives a working paper on 'The Emergence of the Christian Martyr in the second and third centuries'

The traditional studies on Greek and Roman religion concentrate on those aspects that are most closely related to familiar forms of Western religion, such as gods, clergy, sanctuaries, festivals, etc. They do not, as a rule, take into account the ‘embedded’ nature of ancient religion, which means that religion was part of all elements of society, from, say, archives and animals to education and family to widows and wilderness. Together with Georgia Petridou and Jörg Rüpke, we will therefore organise a new encyclopaedia presently called ‘Religion in Context’, which will try to close that gap. My contribution here is a preliminary study for the lemma ‘martyrs’, which will also take into account Jewish martyrs and Greek and Roman mythical and legendary figures who died to save their communities.