Peace and Violence in the Name of Gods. Analyses from the perspective of Religious Studies. International lecture series at the University of Heidelberg. January 15, 2009
Francisco Díez de Velasco. Institute of Political and Social Sciences. University of La Laguna, Canary Islands, Spain (email@example.com; http://webpages.ull.es/users/fradive)
This presentation titled " Senses in/of religious violence"
is a complement, focused in the perspective of the study of the sensorium
implied, and based in images, of my paper "Theoretical Reflections on Violence
and Religion: Identity, Power, Privilege and Difference (With Reference
to the Hispanic World)" Numen 52, 1 (2005), 87-115. In the line
of the comparative approach proposed in the paper I try to decypher the
senses implied in the religious violence from a double perspective.
Senses in the first approach have to do with the sensorium, with an embodied perspective of analysis focused in the interfaces between brain and the world beyond the skin. Seven senses are proposed to analyze the construction of the violent religious experience: the fifth common senses, adding two extra ones, the mental sense and the "imaginal" sense. Religious violence touches all of them, violence implying a total sensorial experience redefining identity, difference and also implying privilege and power. The power and the privilege lets the practitioner use violence in a religious context without remorse. For example in sacrificial rites the imaginal construction of the relationship between gods and humans needs animals (or even humans) as mediator victims of acceptable violence. In a presentation based on images, the most readily depictable sense is sight, violence constructed as an experience of the eye. Religions are interfaces of visibilization but also of invisibilization, proposing iconoclastic perspectives banning image from the religious panoply (promoting the destruction of images, as in Bamiyan) but also in other cases representing gods, embodying gods (in proportion to eye), a violence for those who only accept to "see" god with the mental or the imaginal senses. Sight and hearing combines in blasphemy, globalization of images and information disseminate violence depicted and also violence produced as a response, in a clash of imaginaries. Violence is also made touch and suffering, as in the case of the Greek pharmakós, of the scapegoat, of the religions of violent expiation and violent quest. Taste and smell are also implied in the religious violence over diet, focusing the effort on purity, requiring a transformation of taste.
The second perspective, perhaps more difficult to demonstrate, is a tentative effort of granting sense to religious violence, beyond senses (in plural) and from a contextual perspective. Identity, difference, privilege and power are the tools to build an approach trying to go beyond the perplexity produced by the occurrence of violence in religious contexts.
March, 11 in Spain... memory against the violence of oblivion: names in the monument in Atocha (Madrid)
Rushdie, Jylland Posten and blasphemy
Borobudur: Amitabha in padmasana and dhyani mudra
Pre-Buddha: avidya as violence against the body
The violence of the keisaku
The stone of sacrifice, Museo del Templo Mayor, México
Diego Rivera: Historia de la Religión V (1956): religion equal violence
Morro Jable (Fuerteventura, Canary Islands). Without a name... lost identity
Withot a name but with a cross as (erroneous) religious identity
Religious violence against the skin: cilice
Mimesis of the passion at Taxco (México)
Halal butcher's shop. Barcelona, Raval.
Yo soy Español (I'm a Spaniard) of Agustín Serrano de Haro, first book of History in National-Catholic Spain: chapter 18: "The Jews kill a child"
Francisco Rizi (1614-1685), Auto de fe en la Plaza Mayor de Madrid (Museo del Prado)
Francisco de Goya, La santa Inquisición, 1794
(Madrid, Academia de San Fernando)
(instauration: 1478, previously supressed by Joseph Bonaparte from 1808 to 1814)