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Toward an anthropology of the Calling: religious and secular II
Bruno Reinhardt (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil)
Jean-Michel Landry (Carleton University)
Time zone:
Wednesday 22 July, 14:00-15:45

Short abstract:

What is to be called to a life project or mission? This phenomenon has not yet flourished as a robust subject of anthropological inquiry. This panel invites papers that explore the ethical, temporal, and political dimensions of the Calling at the thresholds of the religious and the secular.

Long abstract:

What does it mean to be called to a life project or mission? How do different subjects conceive of and inhabit their calling? Similarly to "inspiration", having "a calling" testifies to the complex entanglements of secular and religious grammars in modernity. Its ambiguity is highlighted by Max Weber's famous engagement with beruf - a German word that condenses notions of profession, vocation, and divine calling - both in his work on Protestantism and the Spirit of Capitalism and his essays on science and politics as vocations. A "calling" might entail a transcendental limit to moral deliberation and agency, as in Luther's "Here I stand. I can do no other". Or it might be encompassed and authenticated by traditions and institutions authoritatively. Although the frameworks that make "a calling" intelligible and viable are multiple, this phenomenon has not yet flourished as a robust subject of anthropological inquiry. How, we ask, do culturally or religiously embedded conceptions of the Calling conceive human agency vis-à-vis transcendence, immanence, and imminence? How such process articulates the ontological and ethical predicaments of religious and secular times? Finally, how the affective force of a Calling resonates with or counters the entrepreneurial call of neoliberalism, to which we have all been exposed? We invite papers that explore - ethnographically and comparatively - actualizations of callings that propel religious movements, political organizations, humanitarianism, development, business, labor, the military, and science, as well as their intersections.