Call for papers on ethnobiology of religious practices for 2010 Society of Ethnobiology conference, 5-8 May 2010.
(With apologies for cross-posting)
Rick Stepp and I are convening a panel at the Society for Ethnobiology conference (May 5-8, Victoria BC) that will be of interest to anthropologists, environmental historians, and religious studies specialists. Feel free to circulate this call to others as well. The deadline is approaching soon, though - 15th February. Please submit abstracts through the website: http://ethnobiology.org/conference/upcoming. Note that the biannual International Society for Ethnobiology meeting will be just after the SoE and nearby, in Tofino.
Constructing the sacred: Critical ethnobiology of religious practices.
We seek examples of theoretically critical ethnobiological research that not only sheds light on how certain organisms, habitats or places are reproduced and transformed through religious practices, but also critiques and redefines the categories of ‘religious’ and ‘sacred’. Conservation biology, when it does engage religion, often presumes the ‘sacred’ as a feature inhering within a landscape, or objectifies ‘religion’ as beliefs that are uniformly held across a society. By contrast, ethnobiology can, through careful study of entangled ecological and social processes, show how specific organisms and places acquire different kinds of salience for particular groups. It is a sometimes obstructive feature of Western discourse that some sorts of salience—such as becoming a symbol, being used as an implement in ritual, taking part as a nonhuman actor in ritual, or being set aside as taboo for hunting or as food—are often set aside as ‘religious’ where other uses—becoming a medicine, a weapon, kin or food—are usually not considered religious. Possible subject areas include sacred groves, shamanic complexes, divination, sacrifice, medicine and religion, and a wide range of social relations with nonhumans as kin, protectors, ritual agents, guides, ancestors and so on.
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