University of Turku
2-3 November 2017
This conference concentrates on the ways in which the human body has been imagined and re-imagined in different Christian cultures at different times from Late Antiquity to present day. In Christianity the human body is often perceived as a privileged site not only for the God-Man relationship but also for the formation of, and relationships within and between, communities of believers. These perceptions emerge from and generate different imaginaries of the body. Imagination can be understood as a human faculty that in many ways plays a central part in people’s religious lives and experiences. The notion does not imply something that is false or untrue but rather denotes the ways people go about constituting and perceiving their lived world and their immanent and transcendent environments and relationships. Therefore, Christian imaginaries of the body are not static but depend on the Christian culture in question and are subject to negotiation and change. They also are often central to religious schisms and conflicts but shared imaginaries of the body also have the capacity to unite.
The conference focuses especially upon changes and alterations: how and why does the Christian body become re-imagined in different Christian cultures? What is the role of such imaginations of the body in religious practice, art, museums, and science, for example? What are the methods and technologies for imagining the body in these contexts? What ethical and other consequences do different imaginations of the body and alterations in them have for Christians and for society at large?
Keynote speakers in the conference are:
Bonnie Effros, Department of History, University of Florida
Annelin Eriksen, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen
We encourage submissions from different disciplines and from a variety of perspectives. Potential topics include, but are not restricted, to the following:
- Historical imaginations of the body • Saints and relics • Body and identity • Gender, sexuality and imagination • Illness and health • Power and authority in limiting or expanding the imagination of bodies • Body in religious art • Christian utopias and dystopias and the body • Limits of imagining the body • Methods, practices and technologies for imagining the body • Epistemology and imagination of the body • Imagination as researcher’s tool
Proposals for individual papers should be sent to by 20 June 2017. Please include in the submission a paper abstract of no more than 250 words and your name, affiliation and e-mail address. Notifications of abstract acceptance will be sent by June 30. The conference fee is 50 euros (reduced fee available for graduate students). This covers the programme, coffees and banquet on Thursday evening. Conference homepage can be found at: reimagining.utu.fi.
The conference is organised by the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies (TIAS), the Centre for the Study of Christian Cultures (CSCC) and the Turku Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (TUCEMEMS).