Sacred Topographies (or) Parks and Revelation

by Eric Daryl Meyer

I would encourage you to distribute the following CFP far and wide, and put in a proposal yourself. This year’s conference promises to be an excellent event.

Photo by Angela Lau

Call for Papers :: 2012 Fordham Graduate Theology Conference

 “Places do not, of themselves, defile us, but the things done in the places (by which even the places themselves are defiled).” ~ Tertullian

“Places are fragmentary and inward-turning histories, pasts that others are not allowed to read, accumulated times that can be unfolded but like stories held in reserve, remaining in an enigmatic state, symbolizations encysted in the pain or pleasure of the body.” ~ Michel de Certeau

The Greek word for “place” – topos – carries with it all the ambiguities that modern theorists have come to see as embedded within the concept.  It is both the physical location and one’s orientation to it.  It is both the structural building and the office one holds within it.  And it can be both a reference to a particular part of the human body as well as an occasion or opportunity for that body to act.  Michel de Certeau distinguished the static, stable quality of a place (i.e. the sidewalk) from the malleable, productive, and performative quality of space (i.e. the pedestrian whose walking re-creates this “place” as her own “space”).  Put simply, topos represents the interplay between place and space.

The 2nd Annual Fordham Graduate Theology Conference seeks to investigate the ways in which religion both produces and has been produced by its understandings of space/place. The Theology Graduate Student Association at Fordham invites submissions from graduate students in the disciplines comprising religious studies and theology (and cognate fields).  Students whose research is primarily textual/biblical, sociological, historical, philosophical, ethical, or constructive are all invited to submit and attend. Examples of topics within the scope of the theme include (but are by no means limited to):

Shifting topographies: i.e. What are the ways in which immigration, forced migration, multiculturalism, empire and globalization impact religion’s construction of/by its spatiality? How does human embodiment and its topographical setting inform and give meaning to one another?

Structural topographies: How has religion been influenced by and contributed to an understanding of “constructed” space?  (e.g. the relationship of art and architecture to ritual and religious practice/identity; the appropriation of non-religious – “secular” or “profane” – space for “sacred” use; the mutually determinative relationship between religion and geography, etc.)

Abstracts of 500 words or less should be sent via email to fordhamtgsa@gmail.com by Monday, May 21st.

The conference will be held on Saturday, October 20th at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus in Manhattan. Papers of 15-20 minutes will be given by graduate students. The keynote address will be given by Professor and Chair of the Religion Department at Barnard College, Dr. Elizabeth Castelli. Complete conference schedule, keynote address theme, and other information to follow. Questions may be directed to fordhamtgsa@gmail.com.

Complete conference schedule and program to follow. More information available at the conference website

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