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Pilgrimage and the Senses

29 December, 2018 03:18
Pilgrimage and the Senses

Call for Papers

Date: June 7, 2019

Venue: University of Oxford

Abstract Submission Deadline: January 20, 2019

Keynote Speaker: Professor Kathryn Rudy (University of St. Andrews)

This interdisciplinary conference hosted at the University of Oxford aims to shed light on how sensory perception shapes and is shaped by the experience of pilgrimage across cultures, faith traditions, and throughout history.

Focusing on the ways in which pilgrimage engages the senses will contribute to our knowledge of how people have historically understood both religious experience and their bodies as vehicles of devotional participation. We call on speakers to grapple with the challenges of understanding the sensory experience of spiritual phenomena, while bearing in mind that understandings of the senses can vary according to specific cultural contexts. While the five senses are a natural starting point, we are open to including papers that deal with "sense" in a more general way, such as senses of time and place.

Sample topics may include (but are not limited to):

• the role of beholding (places, relics, miracles, mementos) in the pilgrimage experience
• haptic encounters with relics
• ways in which pilgrims are seen: wearing specific clothing and/or badges, public acts (or affects) of devotion, how pilgrims are depicted or described
• pilgrims' auditory expressions: wailing/crying, chanting, singing, reciting prayers
• bathing and purification in preparation for devotions
• food as a ritual element or means of experiencing cultures along a pilgrimage route
• the place of music on the pilgrimage route and/or at pilgrimage destinations
• pain as a facet of the pilgrimage journey
• the sensory spectacle—visual, auditory, olfactory—of pilgrimage processions
• devotional objects that require handling, such as prayer beads and prayer wheels
• psychosomatic sensory experiences as a means of engaging with the divine
• the evocation of sensory participation through works of art and/or written accounts

Please submit a title, abstract (max. 250 words), and brief bio to by January 20th. Successful applicants will be notified by February 5th. All submissions and papers must be in English.

Conference Website:

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Pilgrimage and the Senses
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