In-person sessions begin with an A-prefix (i.e., A20-102), whereas Virtual sessions begin with an AV-prefix (i.e., AV20-102)
All Times are Listed in Central Standard Time (CST)
Screens, veils, revelations. Climate change is on trend to produce over one billion refugees by 2050, US-Russia nuclear treaties are set to expire, and the world is an anxious place. In so far as the apocalyptic event is an unveiling or moment of revelation (ἀποκάλυψις), this panel considers moments of revelation, rupture, and obfuscation in visual art and literature. What is screened; what remains veiled; and what is uncovered in literary and visual depictions of the apocalypse? Following the advent of the nuclear bomb, there was an explosion of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction. As climate change transpires, we are seeing a resurgence of apocalypticism in popular media. This panel aims to bring critical methods into conversation with fictive accounts of unveiling and uncovering. What do apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fictions and artworks say or leave unsaid about prospects for hope and for political and ethical action in light of impending collapse? How do they shape ethical and political subjectivity? These questions are pursued through analyses of novels, films, and photographs, by scholars of religion and a novelist.
Edward Burtynsky’s photographs of landscapes transformed by industrialized extraction and production represent wastelands of various kinds. Many of them are strikingly beautiful. They unveil ecological devastation and portray it in aesthetically pleasing ways. What is the nature of aesthetic appreciation, and its ethical implications, in response to such images? Cheryl Foster claims that we should experience “aesthetic disillusionment.” I argue, however, that while we may experience dissonance between aesthetic and ethical responses, such experiences should not be disavowed. Apocalyptic artworks are media through which we may grapple with the complexity of dissonant aesthetic and ethical responses. Apocalyptic scriptural texts are rich in extravagant imagery of destruction as well as the restoration that follows, eliciting aesthetic responses to their imagistic beauty alongside fear and horror at the devastation depicted. Eco-apocalyptic images like Burtynsky’s function similarly. Such works may help us cultivate appreciation for beauty in ecologically compromised environments while simultaneously inculcating the desire to repair ecological damage and avert ecological collapse.
Bruce Conner’s film Crossroads and Nancy Spero’s War gouaches both represent nuclear weaponry. Interpreting the artists’ work through the philosophy of Georges Bataille, we see that they invite contemplation of death, and in doing so foster a willingness to accept human mortality in such a way that could mitigate the tendency to protect society at any cost. Crossroads presents the nuclear bomb as at once horrifying and mesmerizingly gorgeous. In beautifying not just death, but state violence, it risks supporting nationalistic ideology. Spero’s gouaches anthropomorphize the mushroom cloud in repulsive ways, resisting ideology and highlighting our complicity in state violence. Turning from nuclear apocalypse to climate change and the hopelessness it engenders, I apply insights gleaned from Conner, Spero, and Bataille to argue that we should seek to attend to textual and visual representations of climate-related crises with an openness to experience the value of humanity and the material world in such a way that we find motivation to act from the present-tense immediacy of the situation around us, not from a future-tense expectation that things will get better.
Issues of orientation and disposition underlie much of the commentary on McCarthy's post-apocalyptic novel The Road and von Trier's apocalyptic film Melancholia. Scholars have noted The Road's vague apocalypse and theorized the apocalyptic conclusion of Melancholia as a statement on the end of cinema; readers and viewers keep questioning the sincerity and nihilism of both works; and both works have been treated as 'climate' fiction. Importantly, both implicate the reader-viewer in the revelatory apocalyptic event and foreground the problem of perspective. For example, the apocalypse depicted in the The Road gives the reader access to the apocalyptic event and its protracted aftermath, while Melancholia attempts to represent the apocalyptic event as a moment of total destruction (which, paradoxically, requires both the film and its audience to remain as indestructible witnesses). Joining debates surrounding nihilism, gender, ecology and perspective in these works, I argue that orientation'as it relates to gender, sexuality, and interpretation'might allow for the reframing of nihilism as a hopeful affect, reorienting Melancholia and The Road as climate ethics.
In this presentation, I will speak to my influences and artistic/intellectual process in writing a post-apocalyptic novel without war or cannibalism, a novel that is full of technological tricksters and a vision of the good life. My novel, The Amateurs, is in dialogue with (reaction against) compelling and desolating works like Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake and Russel Hoban's Riddley Walker; in those works, people have finally ruined the possibility for human survival and proven themselves unable to be good. The Amateurs is interested not in evil but in haplessness; the apocalypse is a result of overenthusiasm, ambition, lack of understanding, and lack of care. Instead of trauma, the engine of the technological rapture is nostalgia, to which most people are prone. This presentation describes the influences of evolutionary just-so stories, post-humanist discourse, and eco-criticism, and draws on the Timothy Morton's sublime hyperobjects and Rebecca Solnit's cultural criticism to argue for a futurism that falls somewhere between despair and blissful ignorance.
This roundtable takes up the intersection of religion and gender through an exploration of gendered and sexual transitions among religious defectors, or, religious exes. Highlighting exness as a marker of religious disaffiliation, and X-ness as a marker of transness, we consider how religion transcends gender through ex-religion, and how trans genders generate religious transitions. Building on trends in the study of religious disaffiliation and the post/non-secular, we bring queer and transgender religious studies and introduce comparative ex-religious studies to think about religious disaffiliates who move between religious and secular sex/gendered systems. Using transnational, transhistorical and transdisciplinary sources, we consider how categories of gendered and sexual signification are determined by religious, ethnic, temporal and spatial contexts that cannot be transferred across borders. This session interrogates the biopolitical conditions under which queer, trans and religious mark identity. We explore how gender and sexuality change as bodies move across differently religious and secular spaces through those who transition to lives beyond religion.
The study of contemporary Islam rests on its ordering around several key first-principles that too often go unexamined in studies that employ them. Chief among these first-principles are knowledge (textual, experiential, analytic), time (eschatological/messianic, linear progressive, nostalgic), and imagination (ontological, theological, social). The papers in this panel seek to interrogate these first-principles by turning them on their head, revealing in the process the root system that has sustained them for so long in our field, and imagining a study of Islam that is ordered otherwise. The first paper of our panel takes us to Egypt where a state project is underway to re-write the history of the scholarly class through the modern production of a classical Islamic genre: the biographical dictionary. Here knowledge both of and about this scholarly class is revealed to be not merely an epistemological endeavor, but one deeply embedded in the country’s fraught contemporary politics. The second paper of our panel offers a critical analysis of a key discipline in the study of contemporary Islam: anthropology. Using the example of a novel 19th century Islamic calendar in Iran and the way it imagines the future, the paper both builds on and complicates anthropology’s engagement with temporal experience in Muslim societies. The third paper of our panel takes us to the United States, where it finds that the place of the Quran in the imagination of non-Muslims is far more complicated than the dominating narrative of post-9/11 America has led us to believe. Popular American representations of the Quran serve here as data for examining the imaginative possibilities of the political space granted to Islam in the 21st century. Our final paper returns us both to the topic of time and to Iran, where the culture of waiting for the hidden Imam scrambles common temporal assumptions and produces a kind of nostalgia for the future. Here competing messianic narratives complicate official hierohistory as time takes on a relevance both mystical and political.
This paper looks at narratives from "Culture of Waiting" (farhang-e entezar) in 21st-century Iran. Culture of Waiting refers to a range of beliefs and practices that every true Twelver Shi’ite waiting for the emergence of Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Mahdi, known as the "Hidden Imam" and “Lord of the Time,” should cultivate in the period of Occultation in order to prepare the self and society for the appearance of the Twelfth Imam and the fulfillment of his mission of establishing justice in the world. The past 20 years have witnessed a surge in the diversity of narratives as well as the number of claimants to Mahdihood. Informed by Hans Blumenberg’s theory of metaphorics, I study the changed metaphors about Occultation (ghaybat), Reappearance (zohur), and Waiting (entezar) in the official narratives. I argue that transformations of metaphors illustrate changes in the world-understanding and self-understanding of those who produce and consume these narratives in a context that perceived corruption and rise of injustice in a society being governed in the name of the Twelfth Imam have opened avenues for competing messianic narratives.
In 2019 the Alexandria Library published a ten-volume biographical dictionary, titled Jamharat a‘lām al-Azhar al-Sharīf. This dictionary, which was written by Usāma al-Azharī, a religious advisor to Egyptian president ‘Abd al-Fattāḥ al-Sīsī, details the lives and intellectual contributions of Muslim religious scholars (‘ulamā’) from al-Azhar from 1883 CE to the present. In this paper, I analyze the biographical dictionary to illuminate the anti-Islamist narrative that it constructs, and the related idealization of the history of al-Azhar and the ‘ulamā’ in the modern period. Most scholarship on al-Azhar in the modern and contemporary periods examines the ‘ulamā’ through the lens of their relationship to the state and their political behaviors. Much less attention has been given to the ‘ulamā’s production of knowledge, even when it can be deeply embedded in their politics. Through textual analysis of this dictionary, this paper demonstrates that the ‘ulamā’s knowledge production is a crucial means through which they engage in the political sphere in modern and contemporary Egypt.
Could it be that a Muslim who reads the Quran literally is more inclined towards terrorism? What kind of a book do Americans understand the Quran to be? Is it comparable to the Bible? Tracking what Appadurai terms the “social life” of the Quran as an American (racialized) text-object deepens our understanding of the complexity and diversity of Americans’ political and cultural interests in Islam over time and reveals how they are linked to culture wars. My research shows non-Muslim American political interests in Islam are complex and neither uniformly negative nor always in service of state power. Every Quran-burning protest in the US is out-sized by its counter-protest. Yet forms of political witnessing Americans perform in relation to the Quran mirror one another on the right and the left. By examining popular cultural representations, I show the range of political meanings assigned to the Quran. This paper will include close readings of "translations" of the Quran aimed at American publics: (1) “how to read” instructional guide books, The Koran for Dummies; (2) “how to read” Islamophobic materials, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran & (3) viral memes/Youtube videos.
Time and the Study of Modern Islam: Anthropologists of Islam have debunked a linear understanding of time that sees the past as ‘inferior’ and ‘settled,’ and the future as ‘more advanced’ and ‘open’; a totalizing narrative that simplifies the complex history of nationalism and modernity in Middle Eastern societies. This master narrative obscures the heterogeneity of temporal experiences and distorts how religion has been involved in the production of various discourses of nationalism in Muslim communities. This presentation explores how the anthropology of Islam has revealed the heterogeneity of temporal experiences. It also explores why the study of the ‘future’ has been pushed to the margins within the anthropology of Islam. I argue how the intervention of historians in the study of the ‘future’ can enrich the study of Islam without reproducing the problematic narrative of linearity of time. My study of the formation of a new Islamic calendar in 19th century Iran (re)draws attention to the study of future in a Shi’i context in order to appreciate Islam’s temporal complexities.
This roundtable engages critical methods and approaches to Middle East Christianity within the broader research parameters of the History of Christianity. Focused on conversation and peer engagement, junior scholar panelists across disciplinary fields will consider new and emerging scholarship from a diverse range of Christianities including modern Coptic studies to Armenian, Syriac, and other Christian traditions from the region spanning the nineteenth century to the present. Panelists will take up questions and considerations for this roundtable, including but not limited to:
- How are current trends and new directions in this scholarship pushing conceptual, theoretical, or methodological boundaries?
- Are these directions intersectional? Are we seeing work that engages race, gender, and class in relation to these Christian communities?
- How has critical, community-based, or public-facing work informed your own research and scholarship? And how can scholars support communities they research and work alongside?
- How does the scholarship push the History of Christianity towards a better historically-grounded and diverse representation of traditions within the broader field?
In 1971, John Rawls published his landmark book, A Theory of Justice. In addition to rejuvenating political philosophy among anglophone philosophers, A Theory of Justice continues to be consequential for conversations in economics, law, political science, and religious studies. 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of A Theory of Justice's publication; it also bears witness to economic, political, and social realities marked by deep and unsettling inequalities, with scholars calling attention to the ways that we are implicated in sinful social structures. Whereas earlier conversations in religious studies about Rawls focused on his purported individualism and restrictions on religious arguments in the public square, this Roundtable Session aims to open dialogues between Rawls's emphasis on institutional justice and developments in liberation theology, Latinx religion, Black religious thought, and religious ethics. Rather than revisiting longstanding debates about the relationship among Rawls, religion, and liberalism or celebrating A Theory of Justice, the panelists aim to reevaluate and potentially transform Rawls's import.
In response to the anti-CT (critical theory), anti-CRT (critical race theory) and anti-social science perspectives of conservative, white evangelicals before, during, and after the 2020 Black Lives Matters protests, and as evidenced by the fall 2020 statement delivered by six Southern Baptist seminary Presidents, this first paper contests the systematic rejection of CT, CRT, and social science by more fundamentalist strains of white American evangelicalism. It further argues for a particular brand of Christianity - a black prophetic, feminist, progressive and liberal tradition practiced by Cornel West and other Christian activists, that is compatible with CT, CRT, and the social sciences. In the midst of a triple pandemic, this second paper delivers a bird’s eye view of how systemic inequality and institutional racism are both structural and central to the development of two institutions. The Graduate Theological Union (GTU) and the WCCs Ecumenical Institute. Placing archival research and interviews into conversation with critical and social theories, a shift is made in how the author tells the story about the organizational history and development of both institutions. With this shift comes greater emphasis on equity and inclusion, highlighting both positive and challenging efforts towards a more expansive view of religious openness and cooperation as well as gender, class and racial justice. This paper further treats emerging contentions between equality issues and the organizational elitism defining both institutions.
Contemporary discourse on the intersection of Critical Theory (CT), Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Christian theology and ethics has reached an all-time high. This is particularly true with white evangelicalism in the U.S., where denominations, popular figures, and an endless stream of media regularly, publicly, and explicitly decry “Critical Theory” in all its forms—even if it is clear that critics have not informed themselves of what exactly they are critiquing. What explains this social and cultural phenomenon? And is CT really inherently opposed to all things “Christian”? This presentation will suggest that, despite being categorically different, CT and certain traditions of Christian thought are highly complementary, even to the point where specific ideas of specific Critical Theories function as extensions of classical theological dogmas. Specific attention is given to the psychology of racism in Critical Race Theory and the doctrine of total depravity in reformed thought, among others.
Scholarly and Personal Reckoning in Time of Pandemic, and Racial InjusticeMy paper tells the story of how the pandemic and the racial protests laid bare the vast systemic inequality and institutionalized racism in the United States thus confronting me to revise my teaching and my two-year research project comparing the origin, evolution and implications of two religious organizations, The Graduate Theological Union (GTU) and the WCC’s Ecumenical Institute (Institute). As important, is the story of addressing my own complicity with these injustices.My original question was: Why did one organization (GTU) evolve to become a center of inter-religious study and the other (Institute) remain firmly grounded in one tradition, Christianity? Then the pandemic arrived, and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests took center stage. With new urgency, I began looking at how well the GTU and the Institute grappled with the issue of equality, equity and inclusion. Additionally, self-examination transformed my teaching and scholarship. I sensed in myself an arrogance of privilege that produced a lack of attention toward injustice and inequity. My research and teaching had to change.
Over the past few years, the Liṅgāyat community of the south Indian state of Karnataka has renewed its efforts to gain legal recognition as a minority religion distinct from Hinduism. The ensuing controversy presents an opportunity for Religious Studies scholars to examine religious identity as embedded in multiple ideological, social, and political terrains and structured by sociohistorical and political forces. Categorized as a dominant group, Liṅgāyats have wielded tremendous religious and sociopolitical influence even well beyond the state of Karnataka across the Indian subcontinent. Using the movement for independent religion status as their point of departure and drawing from various theoretical and methodological approaches, the panelists address some of the formative issues surrounding Liṅgāyat religion and identity such as the discrepancies in the scriptural canon of the community and the role of the Liṅgāyat-Vīraśaiva binary in the arbitration of the independent status question. In doing so, the panel identifies important focal points of engagement to examine the unique features of Liṅgāyat mobilization for independent status.
What do we mean when we speak of “Vīraśaivism”? According to advocates for separate religion status for Liṅgāyatism, “Vīraśaivas” are the polar opposite of the Liṅgāyat movement. Liṅgāyat reformers equate “Vīraśaivism” specifically with the Pañcācārya tradition, which traces its origin to a set of five legendary teachers who are believed to have manifested spontaneously out of five śivaliṅgas spread across the Indian subcontinent. Supposedly a reactionary twentieth-century movement, the Pañcācārya tradition is emplotted as replacing social revolution with caste consciousness, devotion with ritualism, and Kannada with Sanskrit. As of yet, however, virtually no research, historical or ethnographic, has been done on the Pañcācārya communities. In this paper, I draw on historical textual evidence and contemporary engagement with the Pañcācārya community to argue that 1) prior to the colonial period, the Pañcācārya/Liṅgāyat binary appears nowhere in our textual record, and 2) an early synthesis of the Pañcācārya tradition can be traced back to the early modern period through Kannada sources (rather than Sanskrit) that speak to the active participation of non-Brahmin communities.
I examine the history of the tradition of the V?ra?aiva-L?ng?yatas and their systematic exclusion and inclusion within 'big-tent Hinduism.' I argue that the inclusion or exclusion of V?ra?aiva-L?ng?yatas within (what we would now call) 'Hinduism' has long been a political touch point in the Kannada-speaking south. Particularly, I am interested in the ways that the ultimate determination was outside of the V?ra?aiva-L?ng?yata's control as their religious identity was mobilized for political expediency'whether as allies or opponents. Therefore, I focus on two cases of rebellion against the Mysore court'one from the late 17thcentury during the reign of Cikkad?var?ja Wo?eyar and the other from the early 19th during the reign of K???ar?ja Wo?eyar 'by communities of Vira?aiva-Li?g?yatas in which the tradition and its leaders were the focus of political contention. Through these case studies, I hope to show how the Li?g?yata religious beliefs and practices had little bearing upon their acceptance into the fold of religious traditions of royal and political favor. Instead, their status as insiders or outsiders was prescribed and enacted upon them as a measure of political expediency.
Contemporary debates about the relations between the Lingayats and orthodox Hinduism hinges, among other things, on the historical origins of the tradition. Some align the tradition with other Śaiva strands by pointing to a prehistoric past as the bedrock of Virashaivism. Others, by contrast, point to a more recent cohort of saintly figures of twelfth century north Karnataka. The poems called vacanas, which are attributed to the twelfth-century figures, are presented as a historical proof for the originality and also the exceptionality of the twelfth-century movement and, by extension, of Lingayat communities today. But the textual history of the vacanas is complicated by the fact they were transmitted orally for the first three centuries. In this presentation, I will explore the alleged “textual fluidity” by addressing the following questions: How were the vacanas portrayed in these texts? What space did the vacanas occupy in the lives of the saints according to these authors? Are vacanas directly quoted in the contemporaneous devotional literature, and can we locate the vacanas quoted in the early sources in the later familiar canon?
Padodaka or “foot water,” which is commonly understood as water that has washed the feet of the guru or jangama and consumed by Lingayats, is one of the eight layers of protection in Lingayat philosophy. Of late, the practice has come under increasing scrutiny as a section of the community has opposed it as regressive owing to its resemblance with similar Hindu practices and because of its role in reifying castiest distinctions and priestly privileges. This essay maps contestations around padodaka to illuminate the different political projects that animate the Lingayat demand for independent religious status. I argue that while the movement remains entwined with questions of identity and belonging unleashed by colonial modernity, changing conceptions of the practice also gesture towards anti-casteism as a central energy that animates the Lingayat demand for independent religious status. I analyze how the resignification of padodaka to mean water that has washed the ishtalinga rather than the foot water of another human, performs a nuanced caste critique that also opens up one’s own religious history and convictions to examination.
This inter, and multi-disciplinary panel, draws from ethnographic, historical, and literary methods to challenge dominant narratives about religious membership and identity in Latin America. The presentations in this panel seek to reframe and re-contextualize the definitions of religious history and identities across Latin America. As each scholar demonstrates, religious identities exist within multiple intersections of racial, ethnic, national, and political realities and reflect their local histories and contexts. They highlight how movements within Islam, Christianity, and Regla de Ocha-If work to define their own social and political identities within a longer history of colonialism and foreign intervention and raise questions about innovation, appropriation, and revisionist readings of religious scriptures.
While an overwhelming minority both in terms of Puerto Rico’s overall population, Puerto Rican Muslim converts represent a numerically small, but categorically complex constituency that invites scholars to better understand the richness and diversity of religious traditions in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. Due to their numbers, Muslims in the Latina/o Americas have received relatively little consideration in scholarly and popular framings of the region’s politics, religious make-up, and society. As this paper illustrates, there are significant aspects of their identities and practices that deserve attention to in order to better apperceive the complicated landscape of contemporary Latin American, Caribbean, and broader “American” religion and politics. Through a series of ethnographic portraits based on fieldwork in Puerto Rico, the U.S. (New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Texas), and online from 2015-2018 and in 2020, I present the lived experience of Puerto Rican Muslim converts in order to offer a more complex picture of contemporary Latin American, Caribbean, and American religion, politics, and the sometimes volatile convergences between the two.
Christian communities adopting Jewish narratives, rituals, and pro-Israel activism are growing across the globe. Existing scholarship on the phenomenon focuses on North-American cases and emphasises the political consequences of Christian Zionism. Although this framework is useful for explaining pro-Israel activism in the U.S., its emphasis on the U.S. neglects not only how this tendency is being organised globally, but also how some Christian communities are moving from diffuse pro-Israel anxieties to the adoption of Jewish rituals and even adherence to laws of the Hebrew scriptures (referred here as Judaizing). My research in Brazil demonstrates how former Charismatic Evangelical/Pentecostal churches are adhering to Jewish rituals and lifestyles as a way to emulate the life of early Christians and reform ‘degenerated’ forms of Pentecostalism characterised, in their view, by unauthentic exorcisms and materialism propagated by prosperity gospel. These findings make an original contribution to global Christianities debates by exploring the changing contours of Pentecostalism in Brazil.
The Regla de Ocha-Ifá or Santeriá Cubana is described as ‘syncretic’ since it carries the imprint of different areas of Yorubaland, Spanish popular Catholicism and, to a lesser extent, spiritualism and some Chinese aspects. While this religion is understood as a Cuban form that arises from the extended practice of slavery, until recently, slavery as such was never a factor in the relationships between the divine and the mortal strata. However, recently the transatlantic human traffic and slavery have found their way into the sacred stories of Ocha-Ifá. This work presents a series of concerns that arise from these contemporary insertions of human traffic and slavery into the verbal and written narratives of Ocha-Ifá. The inquires will be directed to the discussion of models that shape these narratives, the academic instrumental to explain these insertions, and the relationships between history and popular religiosity. By examining the significance of the slave trade and slavery as a mediating component between the sacred and the secular, this work will generate a dialog on the possible outcomes of absorbing human traffic and slave system into the economy of religious practices.
Often in religious studies, the prosperity gospel acts a negative image of liberation theology: it is neoliberal, reactionary, and individualistic, while the latter is anticolonial, revolutionary, and collective. Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork with Brazil’s Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, this presentation argues that attention to neo-Pentecostal practices of “liberation”—from demons, drug addiction, personal failures—breaks down this clear dichotomy between the individual and the collective, the personal and the structural. These neo-Pentecostal liberation practices meld aesthetics and performance to collectively translate the effects of systemic poverty into physical spirits that can be expelled from the body, leaving only the free and autonomous individual in their wake. The sovereign neoliberal subject is not presupposed but produced. I argue that any interpretation of the legacy of liberation has to account for the ways the individual and the collective become enmeshed through neo-Pentecostal performance, challenging scholars to find new paradigms through which to conceptualize how freedom becomes thinkable and performable.
The expansion of the Protestant Evangelical Churches in Latin America is one of the most important religious phenomenon of the last decades. The “conspiracy theory” that explains this incredible growth as the result of a “low-intensity” operation sponsored by the CIA – even if largely true – is insufficient to explain this surprising rate of conversions. One important factor that must be taken into consideration is the conservative upsurge that occurred within the Catholic Church during the pontificate of John Paul II. My paper will focus on the Vatican attempts to silence the leading exponents of Liberation Theology and on the appointments of extremely conservative prelates as a strategy to delegitimize the progressive wing of the Catholic Church in Latin America. The basic thesis is that by strengthening the status quo and by urging the faithful not to follow extremist policies or tendencies the Catholic Church has also fomented division and polarization within itself. On the long run, this approach led to a “spiritual pauperization” of Latin American Catholicism that have prepared the terrain on which a fundamentalist and conservative religious culture is now prospering.
This panel interrogates the relationship between phenomenology and theology. The first paper focuses on the French philosopher-theologian Emmanuel Falque, whose unique perspective has only recently been widely discussed in Anglophone circles. While the paper acknowledges Falque's creativity and importance, it argues that his approach to gender is too bound to conventional binaries and seeks out resources in Falque's own work to address this inadequacy. The second paper addresses itself to the "theological" turn of which Falque and Marion are prominent examples, arguing that the debate between those two thinkers echoes the earlier theological debate between Rahner and von Balthasar. The final paper brings the tools of phenomenology to bear on pentecostal liturgy, which challenges many of the commonplaces of phenomenology of religion.
This paper examines the role of the body in Les Noces de l'Agneau: Essai Philosophique sur le Corps et L'Eucharistie. It focuses on Falque's attempt to reintroduce an emphasis on the body into theological anthropology and phenomenology, through the Eucharist. The paper explores the way in which Falque receives concerns characteristic of French phenomenology, including the distinction of the flesh from the body. In a critical engagement with Falque's philosophico- theological anthropology, I question whether his noon of 'differentiation' is sufficiently inclusive of the diversity of bodies and whether his emphasis on interpenetration is conducive to his wider attempt to understand the body philosophically and theologically. My paper will bring Falque's work into conversation with Ephraim Das Janssen's 2017 work Phenomenal Gender. The aim is to demonstrate how Falque's understanding of the unity of human bodies in the Eucharist is underlaid by an essentialist binary concept of gender, and unified by a patriarchal power dynamic. I argue that Falque's attempt to reintroduce an emphasis on the body into theology is ultimately flawed, due to his binary understanding of gender.
In this paper, I attempt to integrate the first and second waves of the phenomenological study of religion exemplified by thinkers such as Marion (first wave) and Christina Gschwandtner (second wave) to study the particular religious context of Pentecostal liturgy. Thinkers like Emmanuel Falque and Christina Gschwandtner have criticized Marion for only attending to the excessive and transcendent while neglecting more mundane religious phenomena. They suggest turning to particular religious liturgies in order to ground phenomenological reflection in lived religious experience. I argue that when one attends to the Pentecostal context, this distinction between excess and liturgy begins to break down. By performing a phenomenological analysis of pentecostal liturgy I hope to shed light on both pentecostal practice and method in the phenomenology of religion.
This paper aims to excavate the theological underpinnings of two figures in contemporary French phenomenology: Jean-Luc Marion and Emmanuel Falque. Despite obvious points of convergence between Marion and Falque, there is a significant divergence between them regarding the relationship between phenomenology and theology, a divergence which I take to represent two differing conceptions of the nature of phenomenality and its hermeneutical mediation. Moreover, it is my contention that these divergences represent a (non-identical) repetition of the debate between the 20th century Roman Catholic theologians Hans Urs von Balthasar and Karl Rahner, concerning the nature of Divine revelaon and the creaturely capacity for its reception. I argue that Balthasar and Rahner each exercise a determining (though partially elided) influence over the contours of the present debate between Marion and and Falque, with the former being fundamentally indebted to Balthasar and the latter being thoroughly shaped by Rahner.
Our goal is formulate a pedagogical theory and concrete teaching strategies to facilitate student-centered global-critical philosophy of religion. Participation is by invitation. This workshop is sponsored by a generous Wabash grant.