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Rules and bodies in religious contexts [SIEF Working Group on Ethnology of Religion] II 
Anna Niedźwiedź (Jagiellonian University)
Thorsten Wettich (University of Bremen)
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Thursday 24 June, 14:00-15:45 (UTC+3)

Short Abstract:

The panel aims to discuss how human bodies are used and constructed in religious contexts and how these processes are connected with establishing, confirming but also transgressing, questioning, changing various taxonomies, hierarchies or rules. Ethnographic as well as theoretical papers are welcome

Long Abstract

Anthropological theorizations of religion have long been shaped by Western dualistic approaches to spiritual and material, divine and sensual, mind and body. But numerous researchers have also been transgressing these divisions. Many ethnographic studies have been focusing on the body (or bodies) revealing its significance in the context of religious practices and imageries. Bodily classifications and elaborated rules related to corporal purity, taboos concerning certain bodies or their parts, the formation of bodily aesthetics and the variety of bodily techniques are now well established topics. Current approaches focus on the role of embodiment, the construction of religious realities in and through bodies, as well as questions about individual and collective agencies and identities. Bodies, used and constructed in religious contexts, refer to exact taxonomies, hierarchies and rules. They not only mirror social rules and social order but can also be used as tools challenging, transgressing and reformulating those rules.

This panel seeks to discuss these complex entanglements of human bodies via analysis of various corporeal rules created in religious contexts. These rules can refer to political and ethnic hierarchies, gender and generational divisions, class and economic orders. When discussing bodily rules, we propose to observe the dynamics between religious and non-religious entities, different religious groups or various formations within the same religious tradition, institutionalized and bottom-up approaches. We also encourage studies on the temporality of bodily rules applied in religious traditions, especially their changeability and creativity during the extraordinary time of the recent global pandemic or other crises.

Accepted papers: