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Abstract

Stained glass windows created by Jean-Pierre Raynaud and Pierre Soulages for the Abbeys of Noirlac and Conques employ a minimalistic style sensitive to their Romanesque contexts but also express qualities one might call Cistercian, even though only one of the commissions was created for an actual Cistercian abbey. As a form of monasticism, “Cistercian” signifies values of simplicity, poverty, and austerity presented by the founders of the Cistercian Order as essential to the monastic life and embodied in the rigor of their architecture. Natural light is a key element in Cistercian fenestration, differing significantly from the display of color associated with Gothic stained glass. I argue that a form of neo-Cistercianism is evident in and exemplified by the works of Raynaud and Soulages for their respective abbey commissions, in which an aesthetic of restraint and economy aims, above all, to treat the configuration of light as the primary consideration.

Open Access
In: Religion and the Arts
Authors: and

Abstract

In this article we aim to explore how vernacular ideas about spiritual power, words, and silence shape perceptions of religion and witchcraft among the rural Komi people, whose predominant religion is Russian Orthodoxy. In this framework we investigate local ideas of witchcraft, belonging, and strangeness. During our joint ethnographic fieldwork trips to the Komi Republic, Russia, these notions were evoked repeatedly in discussions concerning the Evangelical Protestants who established their mission in a village historically associated with witches. This particular coincidence is reflected in discourses that brand the Evangelicals culturally alien, drawing on both traditional and contemporary categories of otherness. Our analysis shows that ideas about magical power and the usage of words constitute significant aspects of vernacular understanding of faith regardless of formal denominational belonging. We claim that religious practices are switched more spontaneously than feelings of spiritual power and traditionally accepted religious belonging among the rural Komi.

Open Access
In: Numen

Abstract

Building on the idea of “ritual quotation,” this article offers a new perspective on rituals enacted within contemporary theatrical performances in South India. Drawing from an existing corpus and reproduced in a different framework, the ritual tēvāram is embedded in a broad web of intertextual relationships comprised not only of items of repertoire and prescriptive manuals, but also of elements of ritual practices, shared beliefs, claims of social status, and ongoing negotiations between individual imagination and collective expectations.

Usually a Nampūtiri domestic ritual, tēvāram is also carried out within Kūṭiyāṭṭam performances. Through a detailed analysis, I argue that the enactment of tēvāram on stage is not merely the stylized reproduction of a religious service, but it is rather an integral part of the narrative and aesthetic body of the theater practice. The performative and textual milieu of tēvāram creates scope for variations that modify both the plot and the tēvāram ritual itself. Kūṭiyāṭṭam-tēvāram thus becomes a transformative action and a tool of negotiation in the positioning of individuals within the social matrix.

Open Access
In: Numen
Author:

Abstract

In most literature on human cultural evolution and the emergence of large-scale cooperation, the main function of cultural conventions is described as providing group-markers. This paper argues that cultural conventions serve another purpose as well that is at least as important. Large-scale cooperation is characterized by complex division of labour and by a diversity of social roles associated with cultural institutions. This requires ubiquitous ‘role-interaction coordination’ – as it will be labelled. It is argued that without cultural conventions this type of coordination would be cognitively intractable. Thus, apart from functioning as group markers, they are first and foremost important group-makers.

Open Access
In: Journal of Cognition and Culture

Abstract

The attribution of mental states (MS) to other species typically follows a scala naturae pattern. However, “simple” mental states, including emotions, sensing, and feelings are attributed to a wider range of animals as compared to the so-called “higher” cognitive abilities. We propose that such attributions are based on the perceptual quality (i.e. imageability) of mental representations related to MS concepts. We hypothesized that the attribution of highly imaginable MS is more dependent on the familiarity of participants with animals when compared to the attribution of MS low in imageability. In addition, we also assessed how animal agreeableness, familiarity with animals, and the type of human-animal interaction related to the judged similarity of animals to humans. Sixty-one participants (19 females, 42 males) with a rural (n = 20) and urban (n = 41) background rated twenty-six wild and domestic animals for their perceived similarity with humans and ability to experience a set of MS: (1) Highly imageable MS: joy, anger, and fear, and (2) MS low in imageability: capacity to plan and deceive. Results show that more agreeable and familiar animals were considered more human-like. Primates, followed by carnivores, suines, ungulates, and rodents were rated more human-like than xenarthrans, birds, arthropods, and reptiles. Higher MS ratings were given to more similar animals and more so if the MS attributed were high in imageability. Familiarity with animals was only relevant for the attribution of the MS high in imageability.

Open Access
In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
Author:

Abstract

The Mexican city of Catemaco is famous for its diversity of African-American religious traditions. Although Santería was originally shaped in Cuba, the local Mexican versions show not only a variety of references regarding their origins and influences, ranging from West Africa and Cuba to local indigenous traditions, but also (re)interpretations of historically and geographically diverse contents. Based on interview data gathered during field research in 2017, this article outlines the different hybrid (re)configurations of African-Mexican Santería in Catemaco by tracing the changes made by the practitioners in order to adapt existing traditions. The corresponding adaptation processes include beliefs, practices, lore and material assets. Under a critical perspective, concepts of transnationalism, syncretism and glocalization are discussed, focussing on the dynamics between local and global aspects of Santería in Catemaco and shedding light on the processes of inclusion, exclusion and the shift of boundaries.

Open Access
In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society

Abstract

The introduction of the editor explains research context and research objectives of the topic, highlights the most important insights and demonstrates relations among the contributions collected in the volume. The papers, written by young and senior researchers, on the one hand, discuss aspects of truth and various modes of deception like insincerity, whitewashing, or bullshit, all of which set forth destructing forces and eroding democratic processes. On the other hand, the papers address phenomena of dissolving and eroding the reliability of collective efforts to maintain truth and sanctions on deception, especially when they are linked to dangerous reductionist movements and hermetic subgroups which systematically prevent the efforts of peacebuilding measures and make anti-democratic movements settle to an extent that endangers cohesion and collective identity within Europe.

Open Access
In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society
In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society
Author:

Abstract

The aim of this essay is to elaborate structural epistemological and ethical equivalences between mysticism and psychoanalysis. This allows us to make the central concerns of mysticism accessible to contemporary secular thought. The article is driven by two intentions: on the one hand, not to misunderstand mysticism as a moral enterprise of self-perfection, and on the other hand, to oppose the contemporary “guiding culture” of enjoyment with an ethics of desire.

Open Access
In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society
Author:

Abstract

In this philosophical essay, I intend to understand hermeneutics as a philosophical tradition that favors the idea of exchange and impropriety over the ideas of ownership and identity. To this end, I will explore the mythological figure of Hermes, the Greek god that was the patron of merchants, travelers, translators, and also of thieves. Attending to the idea of robbery, and opposing the notion of use against the one of ownership, I argue that a philosophy that focus on interpretation and on texts leads to acknowledge that there is nothing proper to anything nor anyone, but that propriety is but the outcome of a negotiation, of an exchange, of mutual dis-appropriations.

Open Access
In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society