Behaving Like Heathens? Polemical Comparisons and Discourses of Religious Diversity across the Cultures

Behaving Like Heathens? Polemical Comparisons and Discourses of Religious Diversity across the Cultures

Organizer
Dr. Christina Brauner, HU Berlin / Universität Bielefeld; Junior-Prof. Dr. Sita Steckel, WWU Münster
Location
Bielefeld
Country
Germany
From - Until
29.11.2018 - 01.12.2018
Deadline
25.11.2018
By
Sita Steckel

While the complaint of “behaving like heathens” is becoming old-fashioned, we have all heard the expression that someone is “eating like a pig” or, in a gendered scenario, acting “like a girl”. Everyday experience demonstrates that offenses, swearing and abusive language tend to involve explicit or implicit comparisons. Within the cultural history of religious perceptions in the Euro- Mediterranean, in Middle Eastern areas, and in Asia, the phenomenon is similarly familiar. Bad Christians were accused of being like – or worse than – Turks or Jews, Jews were admonished not to fall so low as to behave like Christians while deviant Muslims or Buddhists might be likened to unbelievers. This is particularly obvious when comparisons play on the idea of juxtaposing incomparable units, signalling a severe transgression of norms or breaking of rules. In such cases, comparisons appear intimately connected to cultural hierarchies and orders of knowledge, their stabilization and alteration. If a bad practice not only brought shame or sin to the transgressors, but – rhetorically – put them beyond the pale, such a polemical comparison directly negotiated the elements of membership in a religious faith group and thus the boundaries of the religious field itself. Studying practices of comparison involved in polemics therefore promises central insights into the dynamical-yet-stabilizing character of comparisons in general.
The conference proposes to explore this phenomenon in its relations to discourses of religious diversity, gathering experts working on Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Muslim polemics in European and Asian settings during the medieval and early modern centuries.

Programm

THURSDAY, 29 NOVEMBER 2018

13:00 Arrival & Get together

13:30-14:00 Christina Brauner, HU Berlin / Univ. Bielefeld & Sita Steckel, WWU Münster
Welcome & Introduction

SESSION I: THE ARMOURY OF COMPARISON. MORPHOLOGIES OF RELIGIOUS POLEMICS
Chair: Silke Schwandt, Universität Bielefeld

14:00-14:45 David Freidenreich, Colby College
Instructing Christians by Constructing “Jew-ish” Muslims: Case Studies in Medieval Rhetoric about the Old Testament

14:45-15:30 Martin Przybilski, Universität Trier
Hypersexuality in Jewish-Christian Polemics

15:30 Coffee

16:00-16:45 Alexander Kästner, TU Dresden
Mocking monks and saints. The invective mode of the early Reformation in Annaberg and Buchholz, 1522-24

16:45-17:30 Markus Viehbeck, Universität Wien
Polemics as Literary and Conceptual Framework: A Case Study from Nineteenth-Century Tibet

17:30 Coffee

18:15-19:45 Bielefeld Lecture on History & Theory (optional)
Frank Ankersmit, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Reflections on Political Representation

FRIDAY, 30 NOVEMBER 2018

SESSION II: POLEMICAL COMPARISONS AND ORGANIZATION OF KNOWLEDGE
Chair: Andra Alexiu, WWU Münster

9:15-10:00 Mònica Colominas Aparicio, MPI History of Science, Berlin
Comparison and Religious Polemics in Late Medieval and Early Modern Christian Iberia: A Hitherto Unknown Mudejar-Morisco Source

10:00-10:45 Anna Akasoy, The Graduate Center, CUNY, New York
Religious Polemics and Beyond: Paganism in Medieval Islamic Literature

10:45 Coffee

11:15-12:00 Karoly Daniel Dobos, Pázmány Péter Katolikus Egyetem, Budapest
Portrayals of Jesus in Medieval Jewish Polemical Writings and the Birth of ‘The Quest for the Historical Jesus’ in the Ghetto of Venice

12:00 Lunch (Mensa)

SESSION III: INTRA- AND INTER-RELIGIOUS COMPARISONS
Chair: Cornelia Aust, Universität Bielefeld

14:00-14:45 Sophia Dege-Müller, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Jews, Heretics, Pagans – Describing the Religious Other in Ethiopian Sources

14:45-15:30 Gerard Wiegers, Universiteit van Amsterdam
Polemical Comparisons in the Apology against the Articles of the Christian Faith by Muhammad Alguazir (1610)

15:30 Coffee

16:00-16:45 Ionut Cucu, FU Berlin
“No Worse than the Papists”: Zarathushtra and Zoroastrianism as an Argument for the Anglican Attacks on Catholicism

16:45-17:30 Antonello Palumbo, SOAS, London
Religion in the Second-Class Carriage: The Fortunes of ‘Lesser Vehicle’ as a Buddhist and Taoist Polemical Category in Medieval China

SATURDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2018
SESSION III (CONTINUED)
Chair: Willibald Steinmetz, Universität Bielefeld

9:00-9:45 Stephen C. Berkwitz, Missouri State University
Buddhist ‘Heretics’ and the Logic of Lineage

9:45-10:30 Malte van Spankeren, Halle/Saale
Insult as a Cultural Practice. The Confessional Polemical Functionalisation of Islam by Lutheran Theologians around 1600

10:30-11:00 Break

11:00-12:00 Concluding discussion
Discussants: Marco Carvarzere (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt/Main), Antje Flüchter (Universität Bielefeld), Almut Höfert (Universität Oldenburg)

Contact (announcement)

Sita Steckel

WWU Münster, Historisches Seminar
Domplatz 20-22, 48143 Münster

sita.steckel@uni-muenster.de