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Religion and Media IV: Performances

Session Chair: N.N. | Thursday, August 27, 1:30-3 p.m. | Venue

Mrinal Pande

Mediating a Religious Performance: A case study of Morari Bapu's Ramkatha

This paper addresses the recent transformations of popular Hinduism by focusing upon the religious-cum-artistic practice of Ramkatha, i.e. staged narratives of the epic Ramayana. One of the most successful contemporary Ramkatha performers is Morari Bapu, whose career unfolded alongside the Hindutva movement in India, since the late 1980s. Today his performances reach widely dispersed audiences - live or televised across India and the Hindu diaspora. By focussing on issues of representation and social change embedded in the Ramkatha ethnoscape, I investigate how new media technologies re-contextualize religious practices and its public circulation of discourse and images. My paper demonstrates that an effectively framed tradition with media-aid becomes a transnational spectacle, and is used to produce religious beliefs and other adoptive strategies for community and national identifications. A multi-sited ethnography in Gujarat, California and Rome, provides the lens to understand the dynamic convergence of media practices and religious politics.

Clarissa Blume

Depicting the Belief: Roman Endymion-Sarcophagi and their Allusion to the Transmigration of the Soul

A small number of Roman sarcophagi showing the myth of Selene falling in love with Endymion stands out in one striking detail: Hypnos who gives eternal sleep to Endymion is not shown having wings with feathers but butterfly-wings. Since these – also to the ancient observer – clearly derived from the iconography of Psyche, with that code an allusion to Endymion’s soul was made. While this myth was usually chosen because of the closeness of eternal sleep and death, those sarcophagi bringing in the aspect of the deceased’s soul must have had the intention to display the idea of psyche and nous separating from the body after death. Due to the mythological frame of the moon and the mortal, it is worth considering that this adjusted iconography was chosen as allusion for the Pythagorean and Stoic idea of the transmigration of the soul from the body of the deceased to the moon.


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