Converting spaces and religious transformation: exploring the potential of human and material interactions
Elisa Farinacci (University of Bologna)
Nurit Stadler (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Vanessa Rau (University of Cambridge )
Friday 17 August, 9:00-10:45, 11:15-13:00 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

This panel investigates the differing dimensions of Transformation and "Converting Spaces". This theoretical tool refers to dynamics of spaces that equally convert or are converted by different contexts, people, and environments, cosmologies and immaterialities.

Long abstract:

This panel aims at exploring and analyzing ethnographic case studies involving religious transformation and the "conversion of space". Within this framework, we wish to address the dynamics involved in the (potentially religious) transformation of spaces from one purpose into another. Applying the religious/spiritual/ transcendental experience of conversion to space can offer a unique interpretative lens through which analyzing the relationship between the human and the nonhuman as agentic entities; in this sense the concept of converting spaces both implies "the conversion of space" or the "space affecting the conversion of individuals". Departing from an understanding of space as sites of possible interface and exchange, places can be affected by the relationships between human and nature, the material and cultural, the physical and the phenomenological or the social and the political and thereby stipulate new narratives, imaginaries or socio-political realities. Such spaces may range from Christian churches turned into stylish Bars, museum exhibits into spaces of prayer, synagogues into modern cultural centers, or militarized borderlands into religious shrines. Thus, in this panel we welcome all those ethnographic case studies that allow us to further our understanding of space, human and nonhuman interactions at work into creating and recreating space and the material, phenomenological and socio-political implications of transformation and processes of conversion.