28 June 2019

Contested Desires

Figurations and Sensations of the Unseen in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

On 25 June Bloomsbury Collections published Figurations and Sensations of the Unseen in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, edited by Prof Birgit Meyer (Religious Studies) and Terje Stordalen. This book is open access and available via this link. It is funded by Utrecht University and the University of Oslo.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are known to privilege words over images. This book shows, however, that the reality is more complex. Figurations and Sensations of the Unseen explores the complex procedures used to render the invisible as visible and the elusive as tangible in these three traditions.

Biblical culture

Working from different disciplinary angles, contributors reflect on figuration and sensation in biblical culture, medieval Jewish culture, the imagination of the unseen in Islamic settings, Christian assaults on 'idolatry' in Africa, baroque and modern Church art, contemporary Eastern Orthodox tradition, photography on the East African coast, European opera and literature, and more.

Religious figurations

The book shows that the three religious traditions have formed sensorial regimes: embodied habits, traditions and standards for seeing, sensing, displaying, and figuring that which could not, or should not, be seen. So, the desire for seeing the invisible and experiencing the beyond are paradoxically confirmed, contested and controlled, by the sensorial regimes in vogue. This carries over even into secularized use of religious figurations in arts and literature.