CFP: Consolation-scapes (Emotional Geographies, Groningen 1-3 July 2013)

I’ll likely be unable to make this conference, but I thought this was an excellent example of how geographies of religion are integral to current trends in social and cultural geography.  If you are interested, please apply following the instructions at the end of the call for papers.

Consolation-scapes: Analysing grief and consolation between space and culture
Emotional Geographies, Groningen 1-3 July 2013

Human beings are grieving animals and, moreover, animals that cannot let death have the last word. Anthropologist Douglas Davies (1997) famously suggested the simile of ‘words against death’ to address the manifold ways in which human beings respond to bereavement (words, music, rituals, architecture) and express their ‘trust in hope over fear’.

With the ‘spatial turn’ in the humanities and the social sciences at large, and the growing interest in human geography for the works of mourning, the phenomena of bereavement and memorialization have increasingly been analysed through a ‘spatial lens’ (see e.g. Maddrell & Sidaway 2010) and from the perspective of material culture (see e.g. Hockey et al. 2010).

The present session wants to carry the discussion further by focusing on consolation, a phenomenon which stayed on the background of earlier discussions. This altered focus is compounded in the session’s title. There have seen excellent analyses of ‘deathscapes’ (Hartig & Dunn 1998; Kong 1999; Maddrell & Sidaway 2010), what we want to achieve in this session is an analysis of ‘consolation-scapes’. How is space/place involved in consolation? How can material culture approaches inform analyses of consolation? Where do we stand today, consolation-wise, and how have we got here? How does our contemporary outlook differ from the outlook of times past, and how does all this relate to the spatial dimension of consolation?

The present session calls for contributions from a wide range of disciplines: geography, history, theology, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology.

Session convenors:
Christoph Jedan (c.jedan@rug.nl), Associate Professor of Ethics, Department Christianity, Philosophy and Culture, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen. Currently working on the history and continuing relevance of argumentative consolation across theology and philosophy. Together with Eric Venbrux (see below), he is founder of the thematic group Death and Consolation in the Netherlands School for Advanced Studies in Religion. Most recent monograph: Stoic virtues: Chrysippus and the religious character of Stoic ethics, London/New York 2009.

Eric Venbrux (e.venbrux@ftr.ru.nl), Professor of Anthropology of Religion, at Radboud University Nijmegen. He is director of its Centre for Thanatology. Eric Venbrux has researched widely on ritual change, in particular the transformation of rituals surrounding death in the Netherlands. Among his numerous publications is also the co-edited volume Rituele creativiteit: Actuele veranderingen in de uitvaart- en rouwcultuur in Nederland [Ritual creativity: Recent transformations in the burial and bereavement culture in the Netherlands], Zoetermeer 2008.

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