Spatialising Practices Landscapes, Mindscapes, Socioscapes

Research Group: Redescribing Graeco-Roman Antiquity 3rd Colloquium

Spatialising Practices Landscapes, Mindscapes, Socioscapes

23-27 June 2013, Loutraki – Greece

Organized by the Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, University of South Africa In affiliation with the Greek Society for the Study of Religion and Culture and the Municipality of Loutraki

Colloquium administrator: Dr. Nickolas Roubekas
Email: Fax: +27 12 429 3332 Colloquium webpage:

Call for Papers

The Redescribing Graeco-Roman Antiquity project regularly offers papers at the Society of Biblical Literature under the auspices of the Greco-Roman Religions section. The purpose of the project is to work towards a ‘Redescriptive Companion to Graeco-Roman Antiquity’ in which a taxonomy of analytical categories are developed from theory of religion as well as inter- and transdisciplinary study of culture and society. This will lead to reading ancient religion and culture longitudinally and synchronically through analytical categories that are both born from comparative work but will also allow cross-cultural and cross-epochal comparisons, and furthermore, will contribute to the general theorising of religion, society and culture. The project enacts a kind of interpretive analytic that simultaneously investigates its own analytical practices as culturally determined, contextually situated, and ideologically driven, and then performs scholarly descriptions that are not derived from insider categories, that is, are not replications or paraphrases of the sources. Metatheory and metahistory are the keystones here.

The colloquium is the start to a new phase of the project in that it is intended to explore and start defining such a taxonomic sets of redescriptive concepts, of which this first is ‘spatialising practices’. The human sciences (especially the fields of history and sociology) have, in recent years, experienced a conceptual shift from time (as periodisation) to space as primary interpretive categories. In line with contemporary theories of spatiality, space is furthermore understood as a human construct – practices that construct space/s. But it also takes time to construct spaces, which means that space is fluid, flexible and changeable. Space is also multiple, so that a focus on space/s evoke/s multiple perspectives, positionalities and dis/continuums.

Our title, ‘Spatialising practices,’ therefore announces the core assumption and starting point for a 4- dimensional modelling of theorising religious practices in history. What is at the core of the investigation is how spatial arrangements underlie social arrangements – notably, hierarchisation of social relations. The arrangement of space with its imputed social meanings and social results spans a number of phenomena that are in the purview of this project. This hierarchised arrangement of

Spatialising Practices

Landscapes, Mindscapes, Socioscapes Towards a Redescriptive Companion to Graeco-Roman Antiquity

positionalities is achieved not only by ancient cityscapes in the way physical space is arranged (although this too is an important aspect, especially with the monumentalisation of cities in the Roman Empire), but also by the interweaving of such spaces with cultural performances (like ritual, festivals, and the like), authority-making practices (the function of shrines, temples, etc. and everything pertaining to that, including issues pertaining to the relation of centre to periphery), and the erection of social/cultural memory artifacts (that is, the function that such spatial arrangements are also pressed into fulfilling), and how human bodies are constructed to fit in with these social spaces and social boundaries. More pointedly, the concept of the sacred in its manifold manifestations is itself a spatial concept. Even scholarly reflections on these social space production sites are themselves products of social location and place/space making, and as such, themselves encode social trajectories, politico-rhetorical moves, and third order mythmaking. In all, this project aims at a way of thinking through the ideologisation of space such that it illuminates the interpretedness of space as salvific or, inversely, as dangerously threatening, that is, illuminating the spatial rhetoric of the social.

Governing our questions is the implied question that motivated the broad tradition of French Leftist thought which gave rise to spatiality theory and that is: why do we do what we do? As such this kind of project also has a kind of Foucaultian political moment to it, or as Edward Soja asserted, following Henri Lefebvre, there is ‘no unspatialised social reality’.

Proposals are invited to address the following topics:
• Space in theory of religion/Reconceptualising religion as a spatial concept
• Spatialising practices
• Historical case studies of religious spatialising practices (a section of the program will be devoted

specifically to the Graeco-Roman world)

PhD students are particularly welcomed. We intend to include in the program a PhD workshop, where graduate students can engage with some invited scholars on spatiality theory in relation to their dissertation topics.

Abstract Submission


Delegates wishing to present their work to the Colloquium are requested to submit an abstract of their presentation (200 words) to the colloquium administrator, by February 15, 2013. The Organizing Committee will evaluate abstracts submitted by that date. Notice of acceptance of abstracts will be sent out by March 1, 2013. The registration form can be accessed online at The colloquium webpage also contains details of registration and payment.

English will be the official language of the Colloquium.


Registration to the Colloquium is made by completing the registration form and sending it by fax or email to the administrator.

Registration Fees: Delegate: €140 Student: €70