CfP: Bodily Ways of Sharing Knowledge (26-28 Oct 2017, Harvard)

Shared bodily practice may lead to shared knowledge. This basic assumption lies at the heart of any plural expression of religiousness: Communities of faith often engage in practical activities with others; they kneel, chant or go on pilgrimages together and through these collective embodied practices establish a shared view of what their faith is about. This module examines the interconnection between shared bodily practice and religious practice. Religious engagement in groups necessarily entails a shift from a solitary to a shared intentional action. Within anthropology, for instance, this shift is an elementary and intensely debated methodological aspect for what is frequently pooled together as “participant observation”. On the other hand, the contemporary philosophical debate on the issue has a lot to say about the possibility, conditions and conditions of possibility of shared intentional agency and shared knowledge. However, it lacks empirical grounding. This module scrutinizes what is usually taken for granted: the phenomenological presuppositions of social scientific, historical and philosophical theories, methods and methodologies concerning shared knowledge. This module thus seeks to locate the manifold ways of treating the question of how collective intentionality comes into being in a shared practice of faith. We depart from the often assumed but hardly proven premise that shared practice is the key to a deeper understanding of a specific social action and invite proposals from a wide range of disciplines to explore how this understanding of a social fact comes into being when we engage in social and embodied activity with others. We call for papers that speak to the following questions: How precisely does collective intentionality arise in a religious ritual? What role does the body play in making faith a plural experience? How can we be certain that our religious intentions reflect the intentions of our religious community? Can faith and belief be shared the way knowledge is? Asked on a conceptual level: How do we link and distinguish shared faith, belief and knowledge? We seek inputs across a broad range of fields and methodologies, including history, philosophy, anthropology, theology, critical theories, and more, across different religious and epistemic traditions, on the question of shared human agency and embodiment in religion.

Rita Kesselring and Anna Christen (University Basel, University of Konstanz) will be hosting a mini conference about “Bodily Ways of Sharing Knowledge”. Their call is meant to attract scholars from all disciplines, particularly anthropologists and philosophers, working on shared human agency and embodiment in religion.

Further information: Pdf (page 3, under "special call") / Link

Venue: Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts


University of Basel
Centre for African Studies
Rheinsprung 21
CH-4051 Basel
Tel.: +41 (0)61 207 34 82