CFP - Medieval Tombs and their Spatial Contexts. Strategies of Commemoration in Christianity and Islam

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From: Francine Giese <>
Date: February 23, 2015
Conference: Medieval Tombs and their Spatial Contexts. Strategies of Commemoration in Christianity and Islam
University of Tubingen, Institute of Art History, February, 18 - 20, 2016
Prof. Dr. Markus Thome, University of Tubingen / Prof. Dr. Francine Giese, University of Zurich
Call for Papers
Submissions deadline: May 31, 2015
The idea that the shaping of tombs and funeral places goes beyond aspects of personal welfare and mirrors social functions and meanings of commemoration up to political claims is very popular in medieval research and leaves its mark on examples from Christian and Islamic contexts likewise. Beside an enhanced interest in ritual integration, recent investigations show a wider perspective on concrete location and spatial situation as main factor for the understanding of tombs and their function. As a result, space is interpreted beyond physical boundaries and frames as a relational definition based on social construct in the sense of collective perception, use and appropriation.
The conference will give the opportunity to discuss these approaches within comparative perspectives on medieval objects, buildings and places of commemoration in Christianity and Islam. The focus lies on the relevance and the integration of tombs as places and spaces of formative and constitutive character in both religious cultures.
Our interest is the reflexion of the analysis of medieval burial monuments with a view to the theoretical concepts of the Spatial turns. Case studies related to the choice of a burial place and the associated negotiation processes, questions of visualization in relation to space through shaped features or rituals up to religious and political intentions will be the object of discussion. Within this idea, the comparison of memorials and their related space in Christian and Islamic contexts raises questions about contact and frontier zones as well as cultural exchange and transfer processes and can sharpen the set of methodological instruments. Contributions from related disciplines such as History and Medieval Archaeology shall ideally complement the focused perspective of Art History.
Keynote Speakers: Doris Behrens-Abouseif, London / Tanja Michalsky, Berlin/Rom
The organizers invite submissions on the following topics:
Location of the sepulchral monument: appropriation and construction of commemoration places
  • The meaning and significance of “holy place” for the construction of a commemorative culture.
  • Sacral buildings as burial places: development and changes of the topography of Memoria
  • Sepulchral complexes as political and religious centres
Shaping concepts: construction of meaning through formal, spatial and ritual reference frames
  • Appropriation, transfer and transformation of motives and types (citation, copy) as concepts of space-constituting effects of sepulchral monuments
  • Geographical references and creation of visual presence in space through tombs or commemoration signs (sight axis, crossing and overlapping older reference frames)
  • Interaction and relation between tombs and rite.
Political strategies: Power issues and sepulchral monuments as means of formation of identity
  • Protagonists and processes of negotiation: founders and their rights of access, handling institutional rules/restrictions (penetration and appropriation versus offer of participation)
  • Reliance on tradition: connection to existing burial places and sepulchral monuments, conception and formation of serial sepulchral monuments (family shrines, official genealogies)
  • Construction of history: artistic orientation, transfers and new performances on older tombs and burial places
Abstracts of no more than 300 words, together with a short CV, should be sent until May 31, 2015, to:
Conferences will have a duration of 20 min. Conference languages will be German and English.