Prof. Dr. Gabriela Signori
Dr. Michael Hohlstein
Prof. Dr. Dorothea Weltecke
Date und location: 05.12.2008-06.12.2008, Konstanz
After his return from an epic voyage to the Great Khan of the Mongolians in 1255, the Franciscan monk William of Rubruk gave a detailed account of his experiences during his journey. He showcased these strange lands to his occidental audience. William was a good observer of the foreign civilizations he was confronted with. The Franciscan came across orthodox Christians, Nestorians, Muslims and Buddhists. He described in detail the life and customs of Buddhist monks who differed greatly from Christian monks with regard to appearance and rites. Although there were some similarities between Christian and Buddhist monks who both followed religious concepts including a specific distance to the secular world, William could not establish contact with his Buddhist counterparts he met near Karakorum. Rubruk reports that when he found them with their bare heads, quietly reading and remaining silent, he did not succeed in making them speak to him although he had tried everything.
Since the 13th century the speechlessness has given way to manifold cultural and religious exchanges between Occident and Orient. However, what do we really know about the various monastic worlds, considering the recent news and pictures of protesting Tibetan Buddhist monks? Hence we would like to invite scholars in the humanities to discuss and compare the history of male monastic life in different cultures at the University of Constance on 5 and 6 December 2008. The discussion will cover a great variety of religious ways of life. The multifarious forms of Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain or Taoistic spirituality and piety as basic elements of monastic salvation will be considered. What consequences arise from the various religious concepts with regard to the monastic relationship to the world? Could for example the difference between ascetic and mystic rejections of the world, pointed out by Max Weber as an ideal type factor of the differences between Occident and Orient, be proved true as a distinctive feature of monastic cultures? Monks and monastic communities adopted different attitudes to the secular world. However, due to economic reasons it was rarely possible to withdraw completely from the profane world. Furthermore, political, social or even religious motives kept monks from abandoning the non-monastic world. On this account, the debate should also center around the social relationships between monasticism and the profane world within the cultures, ranging from cooperation to conflict. What benefits did this exchange have for both sides? What forms of conflicts can be identified? How do these social relations retroact with monastic life? Moreover, the encounter of different monastic cultures and thus the historic comparison of cultures in the narrative conflict between the internal and external perception of monastic life may also be made a topic of discussion.
Abstracts specifying your choice of topic should be sent before 1 September to the organizers Prof. Dr. Gabriela Signori (firstname.lastname@example.org), Prof. Dr. Dorothea Weltecke (email@example.com) and Michael Hohlstein (firstname.lastname@example.org), University of Constance, 78457 Constance, Germany.
Geschichte und Soziologie
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