Call for Papers: ‘As If’ in Ancient Religions

Call for Papers: ‘As If’ in Ancient Religions

Abstracts: May 31, 2021. Workshop: July 20 and 21, 2022

It is easy to dismiss the realm of make-believe as part of child’s play, a form of behaviour that we leave behind as we grow older and become more firmly rooted in the here and now, with all the responsibilities and tasks of the real world. But research in various fields suggests that, on the contrary, the capacity for make-believe is a crucial characteristic of human activity throughout our life course. From, for example, the generation of imaginary worlds, to counterfactual thinking, to anthropomorphism, the capacity to move from an experience of what ‘is’ to behaving and thinking ‘as if’ has a significant part in the development of narrative capacities and creative invention; and, vice versa, behaving and thinking ‘as if’ provides crucial tools for negotiating what ‘is’.

The aim of this workshop is to explore the role of the ‘as if’ in ancient religions. While the focus will be on ancient cultures, papers may draw also on research into make-believe in other disciplines, notably psychology, anthropology and philosophy. Possible themes for examination may include (but are not limited to) the role of make-believe in: ritual performance and embodiment; visual representations of the divine; narrative and story-making; self, other and relations; belief and disbelief.

This workshop is currently planned to take place on Zoom over two afternoons, July 20 and 21, 2022, although arrangements may change in response to the state of the global pandemic. We will ask participants to circulate key material in advance; workshop presentations will last 20 minutes, to be followed by discussion.

If you are interested in taking part, please submit abstracts (c. 300 words) to the organisers Felix Budelmann ([email protected]) and Esther Eidinow ([email protected]) by May 31, 2021; we will aim to respond no later than July 30, 2021