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THE SUBSTANCE OF SACRED PLACE: Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz: Call for Papers

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organised by Laura Veneskey and Annette Hoffmann
20th/21st June 2013

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut

Call for  Papers

The study of holy places has long been a central concern of not only the humanities, but also the social sciences. Much of this body of scholarship has focused on pilgrimage and sacred centers, either as theoretical constructions or as concrete places, such as Jerusalem, Mecca or Benares. These subjects have been explored, on the one hand, through the study of ritual and liturgy, and on the other, through various modes of representation, be they architectural, cartographic, iconic, or textual. Complementary to these lines of inquiry, we invite papers that explore the material and tactile dimensions of locative sacrality across religious traditions. How is a sense of place communicable through physical means? What can a consideration of matter tell us about the often fraught relationship between the tangible world and its representation?


We seek analyses of all materials evocative of a particular sacred milieu, not only earth, dust, stone, but also wood, metal, pigments, oil, or water. Presentations exploring either the substances and places themselves or textual and iconic depictions thereof are equally welcome. We invite papers from all disciplines on any locale conceived of as sacred, whether scriptural, pilgrim, monastic, ascetic, or cultic, between antiquity and the early modern period. The workshop is aimed at young researchers, and is intended to bring together graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and those in the early stages of their teaching or professional careers.


Possible topics include, but are not limited to:


– Sacred landscapes (deserts, mountains, caves, etc.)


– The material dimensions of topographic representation (iconic or textual)


– Earthen, geographic, and locative relics


– Transportable versus site-specific sanctity – The physicality of built environments and places of worship

Interested applicants should send a current c.v. and an abstract of no more than 250 words (for presentations of twenty minutes) to

Proposals must be received by date 30th November 2012.

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