Hartmut Rosa presents a working paper on ‚Social Media Filters and Resonances: Democracy and the Contemporary Public Sphere‘

Democratic conceptions of politics are tacitly or explicitly predicated upon a functioning arena for the formation of public opinion in an associated media-space. Policy making thus requires a reliable connection to processes of ‘public’ will-formation. These processes formed the focus for Habermas’ influential study on the Public Sphere. This contribution presents a look at more recent ‘structural transformations, the causes of which are by no means limited to social media communication, and examines its consequences. It proceeds in three steps: 1) In some proximity to Habermas, but also by means of the theory of resonance, it seeks to determine the kind of public sphere that a democratic polity requires. 2) An analysis of problems within the contemporary public sphere will feed into 3) a discussion of the conditions for the restoration of a ‘functioning political public sphere’. These include changes in the realms of participation, representation and spaces of encounter

Moritz von Kalckreuth presents a working paper on ‚The Value Problem and Religious Values – An Inventory‘

In this paper I bring together three different, but somehow connected problems: First of all I will discuss the possibilities and prospects of a philosophy of value (axiology). That philosophical discipline may rely on our experience of meaningfulness in our everyday-life but nevertheless its usual theoretical framework is challenged by different fundamental objections. I shall argue that to be capable of articulating the tension between the historical character of our goods and valuations on one hand and the conceptual relations between values on the other, a general philosophy of value requests a broad perspective including notions of history, society and culture. Second I will discuss the idea of “religious values” and which objects we might have in mind using this concept. Here I will argue that talking about religious or sacred values might bring about the special meaning, which some artefacts, places, rituals etc. might have in religious practice. Third it is to be shown that a philosophical theory of values with a rich conceptual framework (including for example the difference between values themselves and valuable goods, virtues or attitudes) may also be suitable for the cooperation with social and cultural studies or other humanities.

Marlis Arnhold presents a working paper on ‚Death and the Dead in the City – a case study on Roman and Late Antique Athens‘

Focusing on Roman and Late Antique Athens (1st c. BCE – 7th c. CE) this project analyses the mutual transformations of urban and burial space. It combines the analysis of archaeological, epigraphic and literary evidence in a wide-ranging investigation of urban social and religious dynamics and their effects. The period in question is particularly interesting as the city underwent various processes of urbanisation (2nd c. CE) and de-urbanisation (late 3rd c. CE). In Roman times, Athens was passed through by myriads of worshippers of Demeter and Kore on their way to nearby Eleusis in quest for a better fate after death. The Sacred Way hence formed a prominent burial location. However, many indicators of transformations that affected the cemeteries throughout time and space can be found: i.e. the creation of the Hadrianic ‚new town’, the construction of the Panathenaic Stadium, the emergence of villa complexes in the Imperial period to the east of the city, multiple changes to the city walls, but also the emergence of Christianity and new public spaces within the city in Late Antiquity. It is from the 4th-5th c. CE onwards that we find Christian burials sites in the very centre of the city in context of once grande monuments. All in all, a general connection between the preservation of monuments, their relevance for the collective memory of the city and the existence of the institutions associated with them can be observed.

Helen Anne Gibson presents a working paper on ‚Granny Midwives’ Epistemic and Embodied Care‘

Black feminist theory is a field that has reached an impasse in its situatedness in conversation with white historiography (or ontology), which maintains that people were reduced to property objects in the colonial Americas. Recent conversations within Black feminist theory, for example, have likened the agency of propertized beings in the aftermath of slavery to that of an actant such as a rock (Hartman 2021). Previous iterations of this conversation promised to untether such actants from ontological terror (Warren 2018) via appeals to alternative epistemologies (Robinson 1983; Spillers 1987). Black feminist appeals have been taken up by a handful of scholars writing in the Black radical tradition (Hartman 2016; Moten 2003, 2007, 2013, 2017; Taylor 2019; Weheliye 2014; Weinbaum 2019). Scholars writing largely outside of the Black radical tradition, meanwhile, have sought to reconcile tensions between the Black feminist epistemology proffered by Hortense Spillers and embodied experiences of blackness and femaleness (Hartman 2007, 2008; Morgan 2004, 2018, 2021; Musser 2018; Nash 2019, 2021). Few such scholars, however, have been willing to forgo hard-won epistemological ground that changes the terms of debates about racial capitalism in order to accommodate the apparently cosmological intervention of Womanist theory (Walker 1983; Stewart 2021). This paper seeks to untangle some of the epistemological traditions at play in these debates, and to begin to structure a theoretical frame that will allow for the unconventional analysis of midwifery as Black radical tradition.

Maria Dell’Isola presents a working paper on ‚Monastic Space and Boundary Violation in Palladius, Lausiac History 33-34‘

The present paper attempts to discuss the relation between space, property and boundaries in Palladius, Lausiac History 33-34. More specifically, I will focus on a series of spatial details that prove how they are key factors in both the shaping of monastic territorial subdivision and definition of religious and social agency in men’s and women’s monasteries. The nexus between land/space ownership, physical borders and gender difference emerges as being particularly interesting because it sheds light on many relevant questions of late ancient Christianity, such as the economic organization of monastic communities and the gender-oriented structure of monasteries.

Chapters 33 and 34 of Palladius’ Lausiac History represent a significative case in this regard. The emphasis on a sharp separation between male and female monasteries, the liminality of gendered spaces, and the crossable boundaries between opposite areas are all factors that characterize the narrative of both chapters and contribute to the creation of a rigorously property-related monastic framework. Most importantly, the association between boundary violation and gender is functional to highlight the interplay between space restriction and limitation of freedom in terms of social and religious agency.

New publication: ‚Idealbildung, Sakralisierung, Religion‘

The Campus publishing house will publish a new book entitled ‚Idealbildung, Sakralisierung, Religion‘ (Ideal Formation, Sacralisation, Religion) on 19 January 2022, which brings together contributions to Hans Joas‘ ‚Die Macht des Heiligen‘ (The Power of the Sacred). Editors are: Magnus Schlette, Bettina Hollstein, Matthias Jung and Wolfgang Knöbl.

What drives the history of religion, how can the dynamics of cultural innovation be understood? Hans Joas gives a concise answer to this with the title of his book ‚The Power of the Sacred‘. However, he also takes the trouble to substantiate this answer on 600 pages between the covers of the book. In the volume now appearing, internationally renowned scholars engage with Joas‘ ambitious attempt to develop a historiography of religion and culture on this side of the common universal-historical narrative of secularisation and disenchantment. Contributors include Christoph Seibert, Jürgen Straub, Charles Taylor and Silvia Terpe.

The editors: Magnus Schlette is a lecturer in philosophy at the FEST in Heidelberg and a private lecturer in philosophy at the University of Erfurt. Bettina Hollstein is Managing Director at the Max-Weber-Kolleg at the University of Erfurt. Matthias Jung is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Koblenz. Wolfgang Knöbl is Director of the Hamburg Institute for Social Research.

Magnus Schlette, Bettina Hollstein, Matthias Jung and Wolfgang Knöbl (eds.)
Idealbildung, Sakralisierung, Religion
Beiträge zu Hans Joas‘ ‚Die Macht des Heiligen‘
(series: Soziologie/Soziologische Theorien)
Campus publishing house, 2022
ISBN/EAN: 9783593511405
521 pages
39,95 EUR

New Publication: ‚Religion in the Roman Empire‘

Kohlhammer will publish a new volume in the series ‚Die Religionen der Menschheit‘ at the end of January. The title of the English-language book, edited by Jörg Rüpke, Greg Woolf, Richard Gordon and others, is ‚Religion in the Roman Empire‘.

The Roman Empire was home to a fascinating variety of different cults and religions. Its enormous size, the lack of a precisely definable state religion and the constant exchange with the religions and cults of conquered peoples and neighbouring cultures led to a multifaceted religious beliefs and practices. This volume offers an overview of central aspects of cult and religion in the Roman Empire, including the distinction between public and private cult, the complex interrelationships between different religious traditions, their mutual developments and spreads, and the diversity of regional differences, rituals, religious texts and artefacts.

On 7 February 2022, the editors, Jörg Rüpke (Max-Weber-Kolleg of the University of Erfurt) and Greg Woolf (UCLA, USA), will present their new publication. The event will take place online and in English. You can find more information in our event calendar.

Jörg Rüpke, Greg Woolf, Richard Gordon a.o. (eds.)
Religion in the Roman Empire
(series: ‚Die Religionen der Menschheit‘)
Kohlhammer, 2022
ISBN: 3170292242
319 pages

Sofia Bianchi Mancini presents a working paper on ‚Narrative Property in Lucan’s Pharsalia III‘

Lucan’s Book III focuses on the battle of Massilia – a fight historically fought in 49 B.C. between Caesar’s forces and Pompey’s sympathisers. In the book, the poet gives voice to the brutality and viciousness of the conflict through a vivid portrayal of how Roman and Massilian soldiers were dismembered, amputated, or decapitated. However, the battle of Massilia, as recounted by Lucan, is much more than this grotesque and violent account. The peculiar construction of the entire narrative – alongside the usage of key Latin terms and references to specific elements used in Roman religious and ‘magical’ practices – shows how Lucan narrates and constructs a peculiar kind of property, namely one that is strictly related to the self and the body. The way he relates it ultimately serves the purpose of creating a new identity, through Stoic philosophy, that may solve the political problems of his own time.

Raminder Kaur presents a working paper on ‚Sacred Cities: A Sacerology of the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, India‘

In this paper, I adopt interdisciplinary perspectives to develop a sacerology of how the sacral flows on and through the land, and that then influences presence in the place. Departing from solely anthropogenic perspectives, such perspectives provide ontological glimpses into other worlds. There is a radical beyond that evades rationalisation and compartmentalisation while being central to human experience and existence even if they be located in the urban. With a focus on the Harmandir Sahib, otherwise known as the Golden Temple, in the Indian city of Amritsar, I elaborate on four main registers of engagements or ‘quantum qualities’ that change according to place, person and phenomena. These contingent categories are foundational, validatory, everyday and tapestry.

Lorenzo Cozzi presents a working paper on ‚The other Apocalypse: the thought of history in Nicholas of Lyra’s Postilla Litteralis‘

After a short introduction of Nicholas of Lyra’s biographic and intellectual path, I will show how this exegete’s reflection on the Apocalypse is placed within a specific groove according to which the pages of the Book of Revelation provide an opportunity for a continuous reading of the history of Christianity. I will therefore focus mainly on the most problematic moment of the work, namely the au-thor’s comment on Revelation XX. In fact, it is precisely in this chapter that Nicholas, declaring his lack of access to the prophetic gift, reveals his myopia in the face of any attempt to recompose the events surrounding him from an historical-eschatological perspective. As I will show in Part II, with this strategy, the prophetic word is therefore subjected to a speculative work aimed at subtracting it from the claims of the apocalyptic thought and at relocating it adequately within a social project suited to the needs of the Church of the time.