Special Issue "Religion, Ritual and Ritualistic Objects"
A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2018).
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.
Interests: Asian cultures and religions; ritual studies; anthropology of the senses; cultural diversity; funerary culture; religion and nature; critical discourses on the ‘greening’ of religions
From a merely functional perspective, ritual objects serve symbolic and/or sacred purposes. Such codified objects have regularly played a crucial part in the evolution of religions: (1) they give a sense of direction and meaning on the level of ceremonies, rites and rituals; (2) they provide individuals, groups and the state with collective symbols. Some of those objects have been so closely associated with the divine, the sacred, and the sublime that they are considered either symbolic manifestations of a deity or actual manifestations of that deity itself. Objects used in cults, rituals and sacred ceremonies are also of a utilitarian nature: not only are they material things, they are also devices. As mediatory devices they are employed as a means for empowering communication channels between the realms of the sacred and the profane. In worship, veneration and meditation such objects are given a symbolic meaning that transcends their immediate materiality and practical purposes. They may mark off the sacred setting, invoke the deities, furnish the site with meaningful symbols, protect the enactments taking place there, ensure their effectiveness, and afterwards enable the symbolic order to live on in the bodies and minds of the faithful.
Disciplinary focus: Taking our cue from research on material religion, material culture and ritual studies this special issue focuses on the dynamic interrelations between objects, ritual and belief. It explores how religion happens through physical encounters between human bodies, sensual objects, ritual dynamics, sacred space, and symbolic materiality.
Scope: For this special issue on ritual objects we envisage a wide range of contributions on material culture and ritual practices across religions. Our primary interest is in things: tangible material things as used in religious ritual settings. Every contribution is preferably structured along the following guidelines: (1) An introduction to the particular religion-specific object (its materiality; its ritual use and function; its symbolism); (2) A thick description of the object as alive in a specific ritual enactment; (3) A conceptual or comparative reflection on its (intra-religious) specificity and (inter-religious) generality; (4) A rethinking of (re)presentation.
Purpose: By collecting widely diverse object descriptions within various ‘live’ ritual settings there are crucial ‘object lessons’ to be learned. Additionally, ‘thinking through things’ as used in ritual dynamics and religious locations may tell us more about the ways such objects may produce particular effects. Religions may well be more physical and sensual than we imagined.
Relation to existing literature: Inspired by Ritual Studies specialist Ronald Grimes’ presentation of research on rituals as a ‘craft’ (Grimes 2014), this special issue, through a study of objects in the dynamics of a ritual arena, aspires to further refine close descriptions and ritual analyses. By critically engaging with both the politics of representation and religion-specific politics of imagination in an object-centered approach the articles also address discourses on embodiment, objectification and a spirituality of the senses.
Contributions are invited in a wide range of genres and topics:
-Bodies (hands and hand gestures; bodily postures; feet; sounds and sound devices; music and musical instruments; silence)
-Plants (trees; wood; forest; grove; flowers; fruit; herbs; drugs; hallucinogenics; sacred plants)
-Animals (animal masks; animal skulls; totem animals; animals as symbols; theriomorphic deities; sacred animals; sacrificial animals; animals as medium)
-Minerals (stones; rocks; gemstones; meteorites; fossils; menhirs)
-Ritual implements (pestle and mortar; spoon; cup; plate; chalice; bowl; dish; vessel; vat)
-Clothing (dress; vestments; garments; robes, headdress; hair; tonsure; crown; cap; jewelry)
-Iconography and representational objects (sculpture; statues; paintings; aniconic objects; impersonification; ritual re-enactment; ritual drama)
-Weapons (arms; knife; sword; dagger; bow; shield; wand; staff; poison; medicine; magical formulae)
-Concentration devices (rosaries; incense; concentric drawings; relics; amulets; geometrical patterns; interiorization techniques; colour schemes)
- Writing (ritual manuals; hymnals; scriptures; calligraphy; book stand; lectern; pulpit; minbar)
-Food and drink (diet; fasting; honey; meat; wine; communal meal; blood; sexual substances)
-Lighting and smoke devices (candle; lantern; lamp; fire; heat; smoke; incense; darkness; blindfold)
-Ritual calendar (time; almanac; seasons; the ritual year; constellations; eclipses; astrological charts; cosmology)
-Architecture (orientation; geometry; columns; domes; windows; niches; threshold spaces; spatial segregation; sacred furniture; altar; throne)
-Natural site (sacred geography; elements; ‘the quaternity of perfection’ (mountain, tree, stone, and water); crossroads; mound; ocean; volcano; natural circle; maze; spiral)
Prof. Dr. Albertina (Tineke) Nugteren
Manuscript Submission Information
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. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short 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 thoroughly refereed through a double-blind 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. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.
anthropology of the senses