Kristine Iara presents a working paper on ‚Late antique Rome: space, people and gods‘

Based on the analysis of the archaeological, epigraphic and textual evidence and its critical assessment, my research explores topographic-urbanistic, social, and religious dimensions of the transformation of Rome’s sacral topography in Late Antiquity, a topic that still lacks a monographic study. My methodology can be subsumed under the term synopsis and includes: (1) studying the late antique period as intrinsic to Rome’s millennial history, without being biased by a teleological view on the outcome, that is, Rome as the capital of a Christian empire; (2) analyzing all cult places and all areas of the city, including the suburbium; (3) the combined consideration of the dimensions of space and time; and (4) examining connections and connectors between places (material, permanent ones, e.g. streets; ephemeral ones, e.g. processions; immaterial ones, e.g. visual axes). This synoptic analysis of the cityscape constitutes the essential step that leads not only to a quantitative increase of data, but will induce a qualitative shift in the research. Moreover, it will re-embed Rome’s sacral topography within its urban (‘general’) topography without the two being separated from one another. Rome’s sacral topography has not yet been analyzed with a similar approach, neither for Late Antiquity nor for earlier times.

Konrad Pfeffel gives a working paper on ‚Fear of the North? – Studies on the instrumentalization of the North in Roman society‘

In the present paper I am discussing aspects of the ancient view of the north with focus on the sources from the centuries around the turn of the eras. To showcase the lines of literary tradition I will of course also cite older sources when needed. My focuses in this paper are the topical aspects of the northlands themselves, which is why I am putting less emphasis on the inhabitants of the described regions. I do this to make clear that the ancient views on the north could “work” even without connections to the peoples living there – and to show that regions like this almost inevitably had to breed savages. The last point I want to examplify even further in future papeer.

Martin Christ is going to present a working paper on ‚Moving Religion out of the City? Extra-urban Cemeteries in Germany, 1490 – 1880‘

Understood as a space for religious rituals, saturated with religious iconography and meaning and full of biblical symbolism, burial spaces formed a ‘hot spot’ of religion. After focusing on the cemetery as a religious space, this paper will turn to the movement of cemeteries form inside the city to its outside and indicate some of the reasons people living in the early modern period gave for the movement of cemeteries. The next part sketches some European comparisons, focusing, in particular, on the British Isles, which show a different kind of reasoning behind the movement of cemeteries and indicate that religion was only a key factor for the movement of cemeteries, if combined with other causes. Finally, the paper considers one of the key questions regarding the movement of cemeteries, that is, if the move of the burial spaces outside of the city walls led to a more secular city, a view that is still highly influential in the historiography on this topic. By way of conclusion, I offer some questions for further directions of this research.

Chad Alan Goldberg is going to present a working paper on ‚Cultural Pluralism and Democracy‘

The paper sketches the agenda for a new research project on cultural pluralism and democracy. Cultural pluralism emerged in opposition to nativism, assimilationism (Americanization), and the melting-pot ideal in the United States during the historical period known as the Progressive Era (c. 1890–1920). For its proponents, cultural pluralism was not merely compatible with democracy; they claimed that it was in some sense a defining feature of democracy. The doctrine had roots in American pragmatism, from which it derived political and intellectual commitments that were potentially in tension. This tension remains underexplored. Although some historians have suggested that its Jewish origins
limited its scope to European immigrant groups, a broader perspective that looks beyond its chief architect, Horace Kallen, reveals that other intellectuals developed his ideas in relation to nonwhite and non-European
groups. These efforts merit closer scrutiny. Finally, there has been little effort to relate cultural pluralism to the wider global context in which it emerged. By pursuing these three lines of inquiry, the research project outlined here seeks to deepen our historical understanding of
cultural pluralism. At the same time, it seeks to clarify the relevance of cultural pluralism for renewed controversies over immigration and cultural diversity today.

Blaž Ploj presents a working paper on ‚Implicit Ritual in the Mostellaria‘

In the first part of this paper, a model audience is constructed on the basis of the approaches of the so-called Konstanz School of aesthetics of reception, with the aim of bridging the methodological difficulties arising from the lack of evidence of reception. The second part focuses on the object of my investigation, which I critically revise. My aim is to make it easier to grasp some phenomena which I incorporate into my analysis with the concept of implicit ritual. The third part is a case study in which I try to define by means of an example from the Mostellaria (The Haunted House) what the concept of implicit ritual encompasses.

Bennet Bergmann gives a working paper on ‚Meditation as a practice to develop a mediopassive attitude towards self and world‘

This paper examines the aspect of medio-passivity (both active and passive) in the field of meditation practices. First, the mediopassive attitude is described and contextualized in relation to resonance theory. The illustration in the empirical material is divided into two topics: the practitioners attitude towards their own practice, and the description of their practice (the instruction how to meditate). Finally the underlying principle of medio-passivity is generalized and related to other oppositions (such as interior-exterior). This leads to the assumption that mediation practices could be described as an exercise in taking a medio-attitude.

Cécile Stephanie Stehrenberger is going to present a working paper on ‚Annobón 1988. Slow disaster, colonialism, and the Franco dictatorship ‚

In 1988, plans to dump “toxic waste from Europe” on the island of Annobón were uncovered. This article analyzes the “slow disaster” these plans set into motion, revealing the ways in which it was made possible by the ongoing legacies of Francoist and other colonialisms. It explains how the scheme converted the Annobonese population into “riskable life” and connects it to the 1966 nuclear incident of Palomares. Moreover, it demonstrates how the racist othering of Africa(ns), that had been an important condition of possibility for the disaster, was reproduced in some accounts of it published in Spanish and German print media.

Diana Pavel gives a working paper on ‚Calling upon the gods?! The otherworldly recipients of altar-based ceremonies within the Etruscan world‘

The current colloquium paper represents a draft of the chapter dealing with the communication with the gods, a chapter that is incorporated into the wider topic of vertical relationships as one of the main components of the analysis of altar-focused ceremonies. The aim of this colloquium paper is therefore to investigate the connections that could still be inferred from the archaeological, iconographical, epigraphic record between the practices undertaken at the altar and the divinities that were being called upon during these ceremonies.

The paper is divided into three parts, each one dealing with a specific approach into the topic: the first one investigates the means of communication with the divine, the second part brings together a series of associations between altar-based ceremonies and the respective divine recipients, and the latter introduces the temporal dimension so as to allow reflections upon the changes of divinities brought upon by the change of worshippers throughout time.

Sara Keller is presents a workin paper on ‚A model of water topography in the Western Indian city (10th -16th century) ‚

In arid and monsoon-dependant Western India, harvesting and managing water is a necessity. Thus, monuments and modified landscapes related to irrigation, water storing and water worship represent a large share of Indian architectural heritage. Yet this rich corpus and its attached hydrological knowledge awaits to be fully recognized: So far administrative efforts and scientific studies focus on the most visible elements, especially stepwells and other dug facilities.

Inspired by archaeological observations and historical data, my paper proposes to have a fresh look at the hydraulic elements of the medieval city in order to draw a comprehensive chart of the water resources and water infrastructures available in the urban context. My argument rehabilitates the lake and underlines its crucial function in plain regions depending on the sufficient refill of aquifers. The Solanki city of Western India, and in its continuity the Vaghela and Sultanate city, is disposing of a broad panel of waters capable of meeting the needs of multiple religious and profane activities (hydro-diversity). The generous waterscape and its multifold developments reflect on functions of sociability and religiosity in the city. Water appears as an essential identity marker of urbanity.

Shelley Feldman gives a working paper on ‚In-Situ Displacement: Institutional Practices and the Making of the Hindu Other‘

This paper is focused on developing an analytic, in-situ displacement – being displaced without movement — that can contribute to explaining the particular experiences of Hindus in East Pakistan/Bangladesh who, I argue, cannot be adequately understood by the various approaches proposed for studies of minority groups. Although numerically, and in their political and social positioning, Hindus share many characteristics with other minority communities, their particular relation within the social formation and their history in the country are quite distinct. Thus, as I argue, their positioning can better be understood as constitutive of the project of majoritarian rule. To establish the ground for this claim, I examine court cases brought against Hindus for what they reveal about relations of rule and the social construction of Hindus as others, others who are assumed to be enemies of the state, proxy citizens, and whose loyalty is always questioned. The paper, and the larger project, is framed in the idiom of state formation and moral regulation and recuperates a literature that remains provocative and timely, especially when synergized with new theoretical work on liminality and processes of subjectivation. I encourage you read this contribution as a reflection, rather than what I would consider a draft paper, in hopes that I can engage people in helping to elaborate, and also to assess, in-situ displacement as a productive analytic, especially when embedded in the theoretical architecture of state, nation, and subject formation.