Spatialising Practices: Landscapes – Mindscapes – Socioscapes

Towards a Redescriptive Companion to Graeco-Roman Antiquity



23-27 June, 2013 – Loutraki, Greece

Organised by the Department of Biblical & Ancient Studies, Unisa
(with the affiliation of the Greek Society for the Study of Religion & Culture)

DEADLINE: February 15, 2013

Our title, ‘Spatialising practices’, announces the core assumption and starting point for a 4-dimensional modelling of theorising religious practices in history. What is at the core of the investigation is how spatial arrangements underlie social arrangements – notably, hierarchisation of social relations. The arrangement of space with its imputed social meanings and social results spans a number of phenomena that are in the purview of this project. This hierarchised arrangement of positionalities is achieved not only by ancient cityscapes in the way physical space is arranged (although this too is an important aspect, especially with the monumentalisation of cities in the Roman Empire), but also by the interweaving of such spaces with cultural performances (like ritual, festivals, and the like), authority-making practices (the function of shrines, temples, etc. and everything pertaining to that, including issues pertaining to the relation of centre to periphery), and the erection of social/cultural memory artifacts (that is, the function that such spatial arrangements are also pressed into fulfilling), and how human bodies are constructed to fit in with these social spaces and social boundaries. More pointedly, the concept of the sacred in its manifold manifestations is itself a spatial concept. Even scholarly reflections on these social space production sites are themselves products of social location and place/space making, and as such, themselves encode social trajectories, politicorhetorical moves, and third order mythmaking. In all, this project aims at a way of thinking through the ideologisation of space such that it illuminates the interpretedness of space as salvific or, inversely, as dangerously threatening, that is, illuminating the spatial rhetoric of the social.

Governing our questions is the implied question that motivated the broad tradition of French Leftist thought which gave rise to spatiality theory and that is: why do we do what we do? As such this kind of project also has a kind of Foucaultian political moment to it, or as Edward Soja asserted, following Henri Lefebvre, there is ‘no unspatialized social reality’.

Proposals are invited to address the following topics:

  • Space in theory of religion/Reconceptualising religion as a spatial concept
  • Spatialising practices
  • Historical case studies of religious spatialising practices (a section of the program will be devoted specifically to the Graeco-Roman world)

PhD students are particularly welcomed. We intend to include in the program a PhD workshop, where graduate students can engage with some invited scholars on spatiality theory in relation to their dissertation topics.

Keynote Speakers:

• Prof Veikko Anttonen, University of Turku, Finland
• Prof Robert A. Segal, University of Aberdeen, UK
• Prof Jeanne H. Kilde, University of Minnesota, USA
• Prof Gerhard van den Heever, University of South Africa, RSA

Special Session on Religion & Space in Antiquity

Keynote lecture and chaired by Prof Panayotis Pachis, Aristotle University, Greece

Abstract Submission

Delegates wishing to present their work to the Colloquium are requested to submit an abstract of their presentation (200 words) to the colloquium administrator, Dr Nickolas Roubekas (spatialising2013@unisa.ac.za)  by February 15, 2013. The Organizing Committee will evaluate abstracts submitted by that date. Notice of acceptance of abstracts will be sent out by March 1, 2013.  For more information, see our website.

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