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Sacred architecture: archaeological and anthropological perspectives

January 20, 2009

Call for papers (Deadline 6 Feb 2009):

Sacred architecture: archaeological and anthropological perspectives

Panel to be held at ASA09, Anthropological and archaeological imaginations:
past, present and future, to be held between 6/4/2009 to 9/4/2009 in
Bristol, UK. Although this is the conference of the professional body of
anthropologists, we are EXTREMELY keen to have archaeology and
archaeological knowledge represented at this year’s conference, and in all
of the panels. Therefore, we strongly encourage any archaeologists who have
a research interest in the topic to get involved.
Many of our fieldsites are marked and shaped by buildings constructed in
order to express and mediate the religious practice of social groups and
individuals. Churches, monasteries, shrines, and other buildings of these
types, transform the landscapes in which many of us work, and the social
effects of these sites can continue long after they cease to be used for
their original purpose. How should we approach these structures? Can
religious buildings, the ways they are built, and the architectural form
they take, help us to understand the religious practice and beliefs of
individuals and groups? What is the impact of religious architecture on the
people who use and inhabit these buildings? How do the populations who live
near such buildings interact with these sites? And what is the impact of
religious architecture when the buildings are no longer inhabited, as in
the case of redundant churches and abandoned monasteries?

This panel hopes to find points of connection and shared interest between
scholars in Archaeology and Anthropology who have examined in detail the
religious buildings people have constructed and inhabited. Contributors to
the panel are invited to share specific case studies of religious
architecture, buildings that have been used for a religious purpose, and
the ways in which religious buildings have impacted upon social life. The
aim is to think comparatively as a panel about what we can learn from
buildings used for a religious purpose, and to think about this across a
range of geographical, historical, and religious settings.

If you have any questions, please e-mail the panel organiser, Richard
Irvine at

Paper proposals should be submitted through the ASA09 website by the 6
February 2009. Information on the panel and a link to the form for
proposing a paper can be found at:
Richard Irvine
Faculty Assistant Teacher
Department of Social Anthropology
University of Cambridge
Free School Lane

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