Shown, hidden, cultivated, disciplined, bodies often reveal the intersections of the religious and the political. May it be religious signs worn in the public and private spheres, ritual markings and body alterations, healing practices, or ways of living sexuality and intimacy, the effects and influences of religions on the body raise many questions about their impact and regulation. The workshop In/visible Bodies: Gender, Religion and Politics focuses on the ways in which bodies are made visible or invisible, particularly in their gendered aspects, as well as on the negotiations between religious (broadly defined) and political discourses and practices. One of the objectives of this event is to contribute to existing debates on the relationship between religion and politics in secular contexts by bringing together a variety of case studies from both Western and non-Western contexts. While the wearing of religious signs in the public space has occupied an important place in public debates in Quebec as elsewhere, this workshop takes a broader perspective by addressing the expression and regulation of a range of bodily practices related to various beliefs and value systems.
Following a recent turning point in the study of religions, centered on materiality and the senses, this workshop will question the idea that belief necessarily dictates religious bodily practices by also considering that, in some cases, bodily practices themselves can forge belief. Belonging to a religious tradition thus sometimes seems inseparable from certain bodily practices. This workshop will therefore explore the extent to which and under what conditions bodily practices are not merely incidental to religious beliefs but rather constitutive of them. At the same time, the workshop will examine how, beyond the religious, the secular also imposes a whole work on the body, both in public and private spaces. More than a legislative framework for religion, secularized societies also sanction specific ways of behaving or exposing one’s emotions, identity, or values through the body and what is added to it (clothing, accessories, hairstyles, tattoos, markings, etc.). We will therefore examine not only the subject who presents or conceals his or her body to others, but also the effects of this demonstration and concealment on those who look at and perceive bodies, often constructed as problematic in relation to a given norm. Understanding how religious traditions reconfigure themselves when religious body practices are disciplined, transformed, made visible or invisible is therefore a central issue.
Fostering interdisciplinary dialogue, this workshop brings together presenters from anthropology, history, sociology, religious studies, and community groups. Based on a variety of cases from Quebec, Canada, India, Iran before the Islamic revolution, Ireland and international institutional contexts, the speakers will discuss religious practices related to sexuality, reproduction, physical alterations and the wearing of specific clothing or objects. Each in their own way, these contributions will thus illustrate various points of divergence and convergence between the dynamics of body management and their in/visibility in secular contexts.
Workshop registration and proceedings:
The workshop is free of charge, but registration is required for access to the presentations, which will all be online, in order to allow as many people as possible to attend remotely. To register, please select the "Registration" tab at the top of the page. The workshop is bilingual in that each speaker will present in the language of their choice (French or English). Summaries of all presentations are available in both languages. During the discussion period following the presentations, there will be an opportunity to ask questions to the speakers in either language. A publication of the contributions is planned to follow the workshop.
Florence Pasche Guignard, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Université Laval
Catherine Larouche, Department of Anthropology, Université Laval
This event is organized with the support of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Connection Grant, as well as with the support of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, the Chair in Religion, Spirituality and Health, the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Department of Anthropology, the Institute EDI2 (Équité, Diversité, Inclusion, Intersectionnalité), and the Office of the Vice Rector, Research and Innovation at Université Laval.