Cfp: SISR/ISSR2021 Panel: Religion at Home: Reconfiguring Healing Spaces During Pandemic Times

Session Convener(s):

Prof. Joana Bahia - Universidade Estadual Rio de Janeiro
Dr Emily Pierini - Marie-Curie Fellow, Università Roma "La Sapienza"
Dr Giovanna Capponi - Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac \ University of Roehampton

Session Abstract:

This panel aims at analysing how religious practices are developed at home through the use of material affordances and through the creation of “sacred spaces” within the domestic environment. While the use and assemblage of religious objects is encouraged or prescribed in some religions (dedicated rooms or cabinets, domestic altars, prayer mats, etc.), the closure of religious centres in many countries during the Covid-19 pandemic has fostered the reconfiguration of home spaces to accommodate religious practices. Ideas of bodily and space protection, contamination and cleansing are reframed through the entanglements of spiritual and biomedical indications, informing the relations between tangible and intangible substances, objects and images. Practices of healing may be subjective or global, involve distant or self-healing in new spaces and with new materials, or they may be synchronised with other practitioners, even transnationally. In examining the setting, composition, and maintenance of domestic altars, this panel explores the practices and relationships around them in the following terms:

Assemblage: domestic altars may display personal, symbolic and inspirational objects that would not enter in the official altars of the temples. How are one’s own codes of sacredness reconfigured within the domestic space? How have Covid-19 restrictions limited the access to materials and substances needed for the home practice? What strategies have people adopted to overcome these limitations (eg. home delivery)?

Contamination/cleansing: how may house disinfection with alcohol-based products and spiritual cleansing by means of incense, candles, or different kinds of ritual food intertwine to protect the house, the body and the altar from the virus or spiritual substances? How would others see, enter or touch the sacred space?

Relations: what kinds of relations are established or cultivated around the altar? Are personal relations based on conflict, coexistence, curiosity, openness, or possessiveness? Are spiritual relations sought by different ritual means? For instance, how would spiritual trance and other forms of bodily experience of the relation with spiritual beings be reconfigured at home? How can these relations be affected by virtual communication with other practitioners or religious authorities?

Abstract submission deadline: 28th February 2021