Special Issue "Body and Religion"

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A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2014)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Yudit K. Greenberg (Website)

Rollins College, 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789, USA
Phone: 407.646.2176
Interests: modern and contemporary jewish thought; women and religion; cross-cultural views of love and the body

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The body is significant materially and symbolically for producing meaning in the history of religions and cross-culturally. Imagery of the body, body parts, the senses as well as rituals have contributed to the cultural construction of the self, gender, morality, and divinity. Philosophical concepts of mind-body dualism and religious institutions dictating social hierarchies and power relations have disciplined "lived bodies" and shaped embodied social/political/religious practices and roles. This volume brings together trans-disciplinary and innovative approaches to the discourse of the body and religion.

Prof. Dr. Yudit K. Greenberg
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 300 CHF (Swiss Francs). English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.

Keywords

  • embodiment
  • sacred
  • mind-Body dualism
  • gender
  • ritual
  • symbol
  • discipline
  • aesthetics

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Mind, Body and Spirit in Basket Divination: An Integrative Way of Knowing
Religions 2014, 5(4), 1175-1187; doi:10.3390/rel5041175
Received: 12 November 2014 / Revised: 2 December 2014 / Accepted: 8 December 2014 / Published: 17 December 2014
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Abstract
The statements of researchers on the topic of basket divination and the statements of basket diviners in northwest Zambia, Africa, do not fully agree. While researchers rightly stress the importance of observation, analysis and interpretation in basket divination, going so far as [...] Read more.
The statements of researchers on the topic of basket divination and the statements of basket diviners in northwest Zambia, Africa, do not fully agree. While researchers rightly stress the importance of observation, analysis and interpretation in basket divination, going so far as to describe diviners as scientists, they fail to recognize that divination is not an abstract, disembodied undertaking. Truthful knowledge is not flushed out of the diviner’s mind as a set of theoretical propositions; it is instead delivered by an ancestral spirit that becomes objectified in three symbiotic forms: physical pain, configurations of material objects laid out inside a basket, and the diviner’s translation of those meaningful configurations into words. In basket divination, human bodies, artifacts, words, and spirits work together in symbiosis. Knowing is a spiritual, intellectual, and embodied undertaking. The challenge then is to conceptualize basket divination as an integrative way of knowing in such a way that one does not fail to recognize either the neurobiological substrate that we all share as humans or those others facets—such as the numen—without which basket divination as a cultural practice would cease to exist. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Body and Religion)
Open AccessCommunication This Battlefield Called My Body: Warring over the Muslim Female
Religions 2014, 5(3), 876-885; doi:10.3390/rel5030876
Received: 13 December 2013 / Revised: 20 August 2014 / Accepted: 21 August 2014 / Published: 28 August 2014
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Abstract
This communication centers on the argument that there is an ideological tug-of-war over the Muslim female body. The author discusses how religious and secular patriarchies, as well as feminism all make claims to the bodies of Muslim women and purport to know [...] Read more.
This communication centers on the argument that there is an ideological tug-of-war over the Muslim female body. The author discusses how religious and secular patriarchies, as well as feminism all make claims to the bodies of Muslim women and purport to know what is best for her. With particular focus on the headscarf and using comparisons with how non-Muslim women’s bodies are fought over, the author argues that there is a common thread connecting the warring sides as they each employ patriarchal and imperialist views of the Muslim woman that attempt to consume her agency. As the author examines the personal agency and veiling motives of Muslim woman, she counters the idea of Muslim women as passive recipients of mainstream religious and secular narratives imposed upon them by sharing different ways in which they self-author their own narratives in a post-9/11 USA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Body and Religion)
Open AccessArticle The Body Divine: Tantric Śaivite Ritual Practices in the Svacchandatantra and Its Commentary
Religions 2014, 5(3), 738-750; doi:10.3390/rel5030738
Received: 18 March 2014 / Revised: 15 July 2014 / Accepted: 1 August 2014 / Published: 11 August 2014
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Abstract
This work examines ritual, cosmology, and divinization as articulated in select passages of the Svacchandatantra and its commentary by the late tenth century non-dual theologian, Kṣemarāja. Both the Svacchandatantra and its commentary prescribe the worship of the deity Svacchandabhairava, a form of [...] Read more.
This work examines ritual, cosmology, and divinization as articulated in select passages of the Svacchandatantra and its commentary by the late tenth century non-dual theologian, Kṣemarāja. Both the Svacchandatantra and its commentary prescribe the worship of the deity Svacchandabhairava, a form of Śiva, and his consort Aghoreśvarī. Drawing on Gavin Flood’s notion of entextualization, I examine how the rituals described seek to inscribe the corporeal body so that the practitioner is made part of the larger Tantric body and tradition. This present study serves to illustrate the formulation of a Tantric body in the rituals prescribed in the Svacchandatantra and commentary and to extend the theory of entextualization to include the ritual environment. I argue that a Tantric Śaivite religious identity is formulated through rituals which seek to create linkages between the cosmos, the body, and by extension, the ritual environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Body and Religion)
Open AccessArticle At Home with Durga: The Goddess in a Palace and Corporeal Identity in Rituparno Ghosh’s Utsab
Religions 2014, 5(2), 334-360; doi:10.3390/rel5020334
Received: 6 January 2014 / Revised: 4 February 2014 / Accepted: 7 February 2014 / Published: 31 March 2014
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Abstract
In this article, I examine the representational strategies used to visualize the pratima (deity) of the Hindu goddess, Durga, as a paradigm of time, memory, and corporeal identity, in Rituparno Ghosh’s 2000 Bengali film Utsab. I analyze the body as a [...] Read more.
In this article, I examine the representational strategies used to visualize the pratima (deity) of the Hindu goddess, Durga, as a paradigm of time, memory, and corporeal identity, in Rituparno Ghosh’s 2000 Bengali film Utsab. I analyze the body as a dynamic site of memory-formation that shapes new histories in the sprawling colonial palace in which the film’s narrative unfolds with an ancestral Durga festival as its focal point. To this end, I look at how the body of the goddess produces and defines the transience of human experience, the fragility of material history, and the desire for historic relevance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Body and Religion)
Open AccessArticle Discipline, Resistance, Solace and the Body: Catholic Women Religious’ Convent Experiences from the Late 1930s to the Late 1960s
Religions 2014, 5(1), 277-303; doi:10.3390/rel5010277
Received: 21 December 2013 / Revised: 2 February 2014 / Accepted: 8 February 2014 / Published: 3 March 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (169 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper examines the corporal forms of discipline and techniques of resistance exercised through and by Catholic women religious (sisters/nuns) in Ontario, Canada. Borrowing from Foucault’s conception of controlled activity as a technique for disciplining the body, as well as Cvetkovich’s notion [...] Read more.
This paper examines the corporal forms of discipline and techniques of resistance exercised through and by Catholic women religious (sisters/nuns) in Ontario, Canada. Borrowing from Foucault’s conception of controlled activity as a technique for disciplining the body, as well as Cvetkovich’s notion of repetitive activity as imbued with possibility for knowledge and hope, this paper demonstrates how Catholic women religious, due to their unique position as both leaders and subjects of the institutional church, have been agents of, and subjected to particular forms of disciplinary ritual, both in the Church and in their lived religion. Drawing on the experiential accounts of thirty-two current and former women religious in Canada, the paper demonstrates more or less overt forms of embodied, ritualistic discipline and the extent to which women have resisted this disciplinary power both in convent life and in their later years. The paper sheds light on how women’s perception of discipline is related to disobedience and compliance, nuancing the well-known “old norms” of convent life before the Second Vatican Council. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Body and Religion)
Open AccessArticle The Body in Grief: Death Investigations, Objections to Autopsy, and the Religious and Cultural ‘Other’
Religions 2014, 5(1), 165-178; doi:10.3390/rel5010165
Received: 9 January 2014 / Revised: 5 February 2014 / Accepted: 12 February 2014 / Published: 26 February 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (151 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sudden, violent and otherwise unexplained deaths are investigated in most western jurisdictions through a Coronial or medico-legal process. A crucial element of such an investigation is the legislative requirement to remove the body for autopsy and other medical interventions, processes which can [...] Read more.
Sudden, violent and otherwise unexplained deaths are investigated in most western jurisdictions through a Coronial or medico-legal process. A crucial element of such an investigation is the legislative requirement to remove the body for autopsy and other medical interventions, processes which can disrupt traditional religious and cultural grieving practices. While recent legislative changes in an increasing number of jurisdictions allow families to raise objections based on religious and cultural grounds, such concerns can be over-ruled, often exacerbating the trauma and grief of families. Based on funded research which interviews a range of Coronial staff in one Australian jurisdiction, this paper explores the disjuncture between medico-legal discourses, which position the body as corpse, and the rise of more ‘therapeutic’ discourses which recognise the family’s wishes to reposition the body as beloved and lamented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Body and Religion)
Open AccessArticle Silent Bodies in Religion and Work: Migrant Filipinas and the Construction of Relational Power
Religions 2013, 4(4), 621-643; doi:10.3390/rel4040621
Received: 31 October 2013 / Revised: 20 November 2013 / Accepted: 28 November 2013 / Published: 4 December 2013
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Abstract
The present article explores the relationship of silences, as vocal and non-vocal bodily practices, to forms of power in religion and work. More specifically, it focuses on Filipina domestic workers in Greece who are members of Iglesia ni Cristo, an independent Filipino [...] Read more.
The present article explores the relationship of silences, as vocal and non-vocal bodily practices, to forms of power in religion and work. More specifically, it focuses on Filipina domestic workers in Greece who are members of Iglesia ni Cristo, an independent Filipino church. In the hierarchical contexts of the church and paid domestic work, where the church expands its influence, silence is a dominant embodied religious ethos, an ideal behavior for female workers and an expression of obedience. This silence enhances women’s subordination resulting in strict power relationships. Silencing the body, however, is also an agential practice of Filipina immigrants themselves, a tool to transform power relationships into more reciprocal ones. By reflective and unreflective practices of bodily silence, migrant Filipinas reverse subjection, transform the power relationships in which they are involved and attribute to them a more relational character. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Body and Religion)
Open AccessArticle Religious Observance and Well-Being among Israeli Jewish Adults: Findings from the Israel Social Survey
Religions 2013, 4(4), 469-484; doi:10.3390/rel4040469
Received: 26 August 2013 / Revised: 13 September 2013 / Accepted: 18 September 2013 / Published: 27 September 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (232 KB)
Abstract
This study reports on analyses of Jewish respondents (N = 6,056) from the 2009 Israel Social Survey. Multivariable methods were used to investigate whether religiously observant Jews have greater physical and psychological well-being. After adjustment for age and other sociodemographic correlates of [...] Read more.
This study reports on analyses of Jewish respondents (N = 6,056) from the 2009 Israel Social Survey. Multivariable methods were used to investigate whether religiously observant Jews have greater physical and psychological well-being. After adjustment for age and other sociodemographic correlates of religion and well-being and for a measure of Israeli Jewish religious identity (i.e., secular, traditional, religious, ultra-Orthodox), two findings stand out. First, greater Jewish religious observance is significantly associated with higher scores on indicators of self-rated health, functional health, and life satisfaction. Second, there is a gradient-like trend such that greater religiousness and life satisfaction are observed as one moves “rightward” across religious identity categories. These findings withstand adjustment for effects of all covariates, including Israeli nativity and Jewish religious identity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Body and Religion)

Other

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Open AccessCommentary Fully Human and Fully Divine: The Birth of Christ and the Role of Mary
Religions 2015, 6(1), 172-181; doi:10.3390/rel6010172
Received: 12 December 2014 / Accepted: 27 February 2015 / Published: 6 March 2015
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Abstract
The task given to us for this article was to offer theological responses to, “Can modern biology interpret the mystery of the birth of Christ?” by Giuseppe Benagiano and Bruno Dallapiccola. We are female Protestant theologians and respond to the issues from [...] Read more.
The task given to us for this article was to offer theological responses to, “Can modern biology interpret the mystery of the birth of Christ?” by Giuseppe Benagiano and Bruno Dallapiccola. We are female Protestant theologians and respond to the issues from this perspective. The Christian confession of the virgin birth of Jesus (stated within the Apostles and Nicene creeds) is a statement of faith that God became incarnate through the power of the Holy Spirit in the flesh of the human Jesus and, likewise, that God continues to become incarnate in our flesh and in the messy details of our lives. The mystery and miracle of the birth of Jesus has much more to do with the incarnation of God in human flesh and in God’s spirit at work in and with Mary, than to do with Mary’s gynecological or parthenogenical mechanisms. The language of mechanism and miracle, in the ways used by the authors, can reduce the mystery and power of the incarnation. Consequently, we would like to offer a theological interpretation of the birth of Jesus and the role of Mary that expresses the mystery and grace of God’s incarnation not only in human nature, but also in all of nature. Our world is God’s home. We cannot comprehend all the ramifications of what is happening in the sciences and technologies of reproduction and development. However, what we do know is that we cannot stop asking questions, seeking answers, and remaining open to being both critical of, and appreciative of, what the sciences are teaching us about being human and creatures of God. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Body and Religion)

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