We invite contributions for a panel at the Seventh International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS VII), taking place in Akureyri, Iceland, June 22-26, 2011. "Imagining the Supernatural North" intends contribute to the ongoing discussion on "perceptions of Northernness" in the humanities and social sciences. In the course of the oft-quoted "spatial turn", the increased awareness of spatiality and its implications, scholars have devoted considerable attention to the cultural meaning of northernness. Which stereotypes, symbolisms and ideological connotations have been ascribed to the North in different historical periods, by different actors and in different discourse genres? How have the North and its inhabitants been imagined, constructed and described?
As a contribution to this debate, the panel will explore the notion of the North as a realm of the supernatural. From antiquity to the present, the North has been associated with sorcerous inhabitants, mythical tribes, metaphysical forces of good and evil and all kinds of supernatural qualities and occurrences. Such an approach, however, needs to bear in mind that the border between the natural and the supernatural has been viewed differently in different discursive traditions, and that a sharp delineation is often impossible.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
- The myth of the Hyperboreans in Ancient Greece
- The motif of "evil descending from the North" in the Old Testament
- Glæsisvellir and the mythical realms of the North in medieval Scandinavian cosmology
- Mount Hekla and other alleged gateways to hell
- "Northern witchcraft" in early modern demonology and juridical practice
- "Ex oriente lux" versus "Ex septentrione lux" - rivalling interpretations of the East and the North as origins of human culture
- The "pure Aryan North" in (Neo-)Nazi mysticism
- The spirituality of the North in modern esotericism and neo-paganism
- Northern shamanism as a topic of scholarship, indigenous self-perception and popular discourses
- Mysteries of the North in literature (e.g. H. C. Andersen's "Snow Queen", C. S. Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe", Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" series etc.)
- Gendering the supernatural north (contrasting images of female witches and male sorcerers, sexual stereotypes of the "icy seductress", "frigid beauty")
- Supernatural interpretations of natural phenomena (polar night and midnight sun, Northern lights etc.)
Contributions that explore the "supernatural North" from the perspective of non-European traditions and cosmologies would be extremely welcomed as well.
Please submit your paper proposal at the ICASS VII website (http://www.iassa.org/abstracts) and indicate that you intend to contribute to the session on "Imagining the Supernatural North". Kindly send a copy of your abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for application is December 20, 2010.
You can find additional information on ICASS VII at the website of the International Arctic Social Sciences Association (http://www.iassa.org/icass-vii). Students, indigenous participants and participants from Russia and the neighbouring states may apply for travel funding.
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