BLASPHEMY: DISCOURSES AND PRACTICES
Call for Journal Papers
Special issue of State, Religious and Church, a Russian peer-reviewed academic quarterly
Blasphemy seems to be universal and unchanging term, and yet its meaning varies tremendously across times and cultures. Medieval inquisition guides discussed the boundary between blasphemy and heresy, while current virulent debates about the feelings of believers, radical reactions against contemporary art or caricatures are construed in terms of opposition of blasphemy and basic freedoms.
Controversies around blasphemy have always been those of boundaries and limits: limits of what is permissible in the statements about the sacred; boundaries of various physical and social spaces where these statements can be acceptable or not; finally, the boundaries of what is conceived as “sacred” in each particular historical and cultural context.
Blasphemy controversies have always reflected the fight for power. What communities, institutions, and individuals have the right to define the boundaries of the sacred, the norms of describing or speaking about the sacred, as well as the right to punish for the violation of these norms? Thus, blasphemy is, potentially, a hidden script bearing the agency of resistance and protest.
In this special issue, we propose to explore how theories and practices of blasphemy have been evolving in Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities from the Middle Age until now. We will see how blasphemy and its persecutions worked behind various religious, social and political conflicts. We will study how the norms disciplining blasphemy were imposed and implemented by religious and secular institutions, and how efficient such implementations were. Finally, we will study what happens with these discourses and practices in the modern secular society.
Although the phenomenon of blasphemy cannot be understood without exploring the macro-level of theological and legal interpretations, we will mostly focus our studies upon the micro-level – that is, the level of everyday situations where, in various societies, some pieces of speech or imagery are felt and labeled as “blasphemous;” and also upon those conflicting interpretations that occur at the intersection of various speech practices and behavioral patterns.
We welcome studies of blasphemy cases generated at the breaches and borders – religious, social, ethno-national, and political.
- Theories of blasphemy: the construction of the category in theological, polemical and legal traditions;
- The borders of the category: blasphemy v. heresy; blasphemy vs. reform; blasphemy vs. free thinking; blasphemy vs. risus sacer; blasphemy vs. carnival;
- The practices of blasphemy: situations when they occur; people who say them; typical reactions;
- The poetics of blasphemy: what are the words that the sacred do not tolerate? The typical objects of blasphemous transgression;
- Blasphemy as an external challenge to tradition/religion/church vs. blasphemy as an internal, permissible transgression;
- Blasphemy as sin and crime: criminalization and decriminalization of blasphemy;
- Blasphemy and the Other: offences of blasphemy in ethno-confessional and political conflicts;
- Blasphemy and religious skepticism: the problem of unbelief in the eras of supposedly “universal faint;”
- Debates about blasphemy in secular societies;
- The political “sacred and the political “blasphemy:” how religious rhetoric is transposed into a non-religious space.
Please send your papers (in Russian, English or other languages) at two addresses: the email of the journal (firstname.lastname@example.org), copied to the email of the guest editor Mikhail Maizuls (email@example.com). The length of the papers is around 6000-7000 words. We accept high resolution pictures added to the text. The bibliographic rules can be found at the journal website here: http://religion.rane.ru/?q=ru/for-authors.
The deadline for submitting papers is 31 December, 2016.
You are also welcome to get in touch with us (emails same as above) for a preliminary proposal of a topic; in this case please send us a title and 150-200 word abstract until April 15, 2016.
The journal Gosudarstvo, religia i tserkov’ v Rossii i za rubezhom (State, Religion and Church in Russia and Worldwide) is a peer-reviewed, SCOPUS-indexed academic quarterly. It is published in the Russian language; however, manuscripts in other languages are also accepted. The website is: www.religion.rane.ru
Dr. Mikhail Maizuls