Purity, Pollution, Purification and Defilement – Mediterranean Seminar Summer Workshop
Paper proposals and round-table participants are being sought for the Mediterranean Seminar’s three-day Summer 2022 Workshop, to be held at the University of Haifa (Sponsored by the Haifa Center for Mediterranean History) and Tel Aviv University, in 28th-30th June, on the topic of “Purity, Pollution, Purification and Defilement in the Premodern Mediterranean”.
Purity and purification were key to social formation and transformation in the premodern world. Religious precepts and cultural tenets of purity and pollution defined identities and contours of communities. They charted the boundaries between the licit and the illicit, between the sacred and the profane and between the saved and the damned. As these ideas and beliefs were embodied in practices they also shaped the daily routines of women and men, determining their calendars and life cycles. In the Mediterranean, in particular, concepts of purity and defilement developed through an ongoing engagement of theology, polemic, ritualization and social realities. The three Abrahamic religions as well as numerous pagan, local and heterodox cults, harbored both internal and external discussions over the meaning of purity and the practices required for obtaining and observing it. Our workshop seeks to bring together scholars who study ideas and practices related to purity in the premodern Mediterranean in order to bring to the fore these internal and external dynamics. We welcome contributions from scholars in the disciplines of history, archeology, theology and religious law, literature and the arts, working on a range of issues including gender, medicine, ritual, and social dynamics.
For the workshop (to be held on Tuesday, 28th of June), we invite abstracts of in-progress drafts of articles or book/dissertation chapters on any subject relating to purity and purification practices in the premodern Mediterranean, broadly construed. Particularly welcome are papers relating to the concepts of time, space and purity; to rituals and practice of purity; personhood and purity; the relationship between the personal and the communal in respect to im/purity; the transmission of beliefs, texts and practices across the multi-religious/ethnic region; purity and social hierarchies; medical discourses and purity; Im/purity and emotions. Papers that address methodology are welcome as well. For the purposes of the workshop, our Mediterranean is widely construed as including southern Europe, the Near East, North Africa, Arabia, Mesopotamia and the Caucasus.
For the second day, Wednesday 29th of June, which will feature two round-table conversations, we seek abstracts for presentations focusing on the following topics:
How do interreligious interactions shape or alter discourses of purity and pollution?
In what ways do ideas about purity and filth correspond with notions of well-being, physical health or spiritual health?
Day 3, Thursday 30th of June, will be devoted to a field study day on the topic of space, place and impurity.
Participants will be expected to attend the entire three-day symposium.
The deadline for workshop and round-table proposals is 15 February 2022.
Apply via this form: https://forms.gle/UGYm1kh3j8SfBCGH7
- If you are applying to present at the workshop, please indicate this clearly; state the title of your paper and its nature (e.g. article, book chapter, dissertation chapter). Successful applicants are expected to submit a 35-page (maximum) double-spaced paper-in-progress for pre-circulation no later than 30 May 2022.
- If you are applying to participate in a round-table, please indicate which round table(s) you are applying for. Round table participates will be required to submit a 3-5 page “position paper’ no later than 30 May 2022.
You may apply for both a workshop presentation and round-table discussion (fill in two separate forms).
We will cover room and board for four days at the conference locations. We are currently trying to secure additional funds to cover travel costs as well, but cannot guarantee we will be able to cover these. Please take this into consideration when applying.