Sacrality and Sacralization in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age. Intercultural Perspectives in Europe and Asia

In 2010 an interdisciplinary project of the University Erlangen-Nuremberg, entitled "Sakralität und Sakralisierung in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit. Interkulturelle Perspektiven in Europa und Asien" (Sacrality and Sacralization in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age. Intercultural Perspectives in Europe and Asia), has been approved, that cooperates with the consortium.

The project consists of seven sub-units:

  • Latin philology of Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Prof. Dr. Michele Ferrari)
  • Medieval European History (Prof. Dr. Klaus Herbers: Heilige an den Grenzen Lateineuropas)
  • Christian Archaeology (Prof. Dr. Carola Jäggi)
  • German Medieval Studies (Prof. Dr. Susanne Köbele)
  • Chinese Studies (Prof. Dr. Michael Lackner: Der Kult der Drachenkönige (Longwang) im China der späten Kaiserzeit)
  • Religious Studies (Prof. Dr. Andreas Nehring: Von der Sakralität des Ursprungs zum Ursprung des Sakralen – Max Müllers Rekonstruktion der Religion aus den Partikeln der Sprache)
  • Indology (Würzburg University, Prof. Dr. Heidrun Brückner, PD Dr. Karin Steiner).

Sacrality and Sacralization in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age. Intercultural Perspectives in Europe and Asia

In the pre-modern societies of Europe and Asia, the sacral character of actions, objects, spaces and characters was affirmed time and time again, but also doubted and declined. Acting on the assumption that sacrality was rarely defined perspicuously, but in fact highly controversial and therefore often bargained anew, the Research Unit asks for the handling of the sacral in Europe and Asia in the Premodern Era. The project’s goal is a comparative examination of Christian and non-Christian concepts of sanctity in various European and Asian cultural areas, as they are reflected in texts, images, architecture, interior decoration, personality cults, *herrschermodelle* or performative acts.

At the center of the research project looms the question of how sacrality is constituted. This is based on the perspective that sacralization has to be apprehended as a process of ascription and staging, which turns out to be highly variable in different contexts. Therefore, references between different media, the correlation between institutionalization and de-institutionalization of sacrality as well as the tension between an official ecclesiastical canonization, which is authorized individually and binding collectively, are of particular interest.

The methodological access to an interculturally and intermedially constructed cross-epochal comparison makes it possible to analyze sacrality both in its historical changeability and systematically. Especially the sighted confrontation of Christian cultures in Europe with India and China promises to sharpen the view on structural mutualities and differences throughout the borders of epochs and religions respectively religious denominations.

With regards to content, the Research Unit drafts the subject as a conjunction of questions concerning literature, art and historical sciences in order to capture sacral phenomena referring to texts, characters, screens or spaces in their whole complexity. Uncoupled from the single research project, not just the central conceptions of religious perfection can thus be opened up. In fact, the historical-cultural specificity of the reviewed sacral phenomena will not become obvious until this interdisciplinary cross-section takes place.

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