Through the Bone and Marrow Re-examining Theological Encounters with Dance in Medieval Europe

A book by Laura Hellsten.

This book is a conversation starter. The author is re-imagining the theological landscape of historical practices of dance in order to open up a space where further explorations can be made. This is done in a two step manner. First, the book uncovers the restrictions of earlier research on the topic of dance in and around churches. In the second step, Hellsten suggests a practice for how historical sources can be imagined in a new frame. Opening up a new field of previously neglected and much needed historical studies on Dance in the Christian churches of the Latin West this study aims at questioning old paradigms and opening new vistas rather than reinterpreting concrete liturgical manuscripts or scrutinizing all the details of the historical sources presented.
The Donner Institute for Research in Religion and Culture in Turku, Finland has awarded its Nordic Research Prize 2021 to Dr. theol. Laura Hellsten for her creative research widening our understanding of sacral dance in general and of the role of dance in the Christian church in particular.

Laura Hellsten is a post-doctoral fellow in Systematic Theology at Åbo Akademi University. In her current research she works as an ethicist ethnographically participating in a transdisciplinary research group studying the functions of cells. She also leads a project which brings together artists and researchers around the theme of science communication. She has further published articles around current and historical practices of dance in Western Christian theological traditions.

Seminar Series: Populism and Religion Spring 2022

Seminar Series in Populism and Religion at Lund.

Looking at populist rhetoric from a ‘Biblical’ point of view
Maria Armida Nicolaci
February 2, 16h15-18h00
Meeting ID: 675 7986 2136

Some so-called ‘tribal’ or premodern traits of modern populisms prompt us to evaluate populist rhetoric in light of the way in which the Christian Bible represents the identity of the ‘people of God’. Prophetic speech, especially, is depicted as a relentless fight against the various fetishes of the “people of God” and its idolatrous absolutization – as if it was a monolithic, ahistorical, untouchable, and abstract entity. Even the Scriptures, therefore, display a dynamics of identity comparable to the morphologies of some populisms. A glimpse at the ways in which the Christian Bible also unveils and challenges similar dynamics can provide useful insight for elaborating a non-idolatrous and, indeed, inclusive and open notion of a ‘people’.

Marida Nicolaci is Professor of New Testament Exegesis at the Theological Faculty of Sicily. Her research focuses on Johannine literature, Catholic epistles, the origins of Christianity, and Biblical Hermeneutics. Among her recent publications are: ‘The “People of God” and its Idols in “The One and the Other Testament”: How Sacred Scripture Challenges Populist Rhetoric’ (2019); ‘Le “parole di Dio” nella Chiesa. Tradizione in tensione’ (2019); and ‘Oltre i muri. Identità e differenza come dono’ (2021).

Populism in the Buddhist World
Charlie Carstens
April 13, 16h15-18h00
Meeting ID: 675 7986 2136

In the wake of its meteoric rise in public and scholarly circles, “populism” has accumulated an expansive—and at times dizzying—array of meanings, conceptualizations, and applications. We have become relatively comfortable with discussing this phenomenon in present-day, historically Christian settings (e.g., Europe, North America). But how tethered is populism to this setting? This presentation will consider the viability and analytical value of populism for three case studies from the pre-modern Buddhist world. Our aim is to draw upon this disparate cultural setting both to probe the limits of populism and to draw attention to its historical situatedness.

Charlie Carstens is a Ph.D. candidate in the study of religion at Harvard University. He holds a Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a BA in Economics from Carleton College. His dissertation investigates theories and practices of power expressed through historical, poetic, administrative, and ritual texts of pre-colonial Burma. His research interests include historiography, governance, secularism, aesthetics, identity, and ethics.

Apocalyptic Hope and Political Defeatism 
Jayne Svenungsson
May 11, 16h15-18h00
Meeting ID: 675 7986 2136

The increased presence of apocalyptic motifs in populist discourses have attracted large scholarly interest in recent years. This seminar will focus on how these tendencies are mirrored within contemporary political-theological thinking. While some political theologians depict apocalypticism as a liberating or progressive force, others see it as a dangerous or reactive phenomenon. Departing from the premise that apocalypticism per se is neither nor, the seminar will explore and ponder the potential promises as well as perils related to the notion of apocalyptic hope. 

Jayne Svenungsson is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Lund University. Her research focuses on political theology and philosophy of history. Among her most recent publications are ‘Radical Incarnation: The Dangers and Promises of Christian Universalism in the Wake of Badiou’s Saint Paul’ (2021), and ‘Secularization’ in Bloomsbury History: Theory and Method (2021). 

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