Ideal futures are built upon ideal pasts in the religious arena. Utopian and nostalgic longing for an edenic past will be taken as a lense for developing an understanding of the performance and emplacement of present ritual.
In combining the two terms 'utopian' and 'past', which are in a paradoxical relationship due to their inherent forward-looking and backward-looking perspectives, we are grounded in the idea that the future and our dreams about it are constructed over our nostalgic imaginations of the past. This panel specifically looks at the field of ritualistic, performative and material expressions of religions, where one can easily find references to nostalgic pasts and their associated utopian visions. In one case, we look at how historical places of syncretism and hybridity have become legitimate devices in the nostalgic and romantic remembrance of a shared past. In another case the role of classical and ancestral knowledge systems as legitimation for healing practices is taken up. We additionally open the floor to all perspectives on the place of ritual and religion in a utopian view of the past via ritual, material and performative culture. Of particular interest are panels that address these issues via a well situated example from a particular geography and period of time, for comparative purposes.