Call for Presentations

Pilgrimage to the Heart of the Sacred

The Sacred Journeys: Pilgrimage and Beyond Project: 2nd Global Meeting

Friday 3rd July – Sunday 5th July 2015
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom


Call for Presentations:
Pilgrimage is a cross-cultural phenomenon that facilitates interaction between and among diverse peoples from countless cultures and walks of life. In the 2nd Global Conference, we will continue to explore the many personal, interpersonal, intercultural, and international dimensions of this profound phenomenon.

Among the key issues that emerged from Sacred Journeys I: Pilgrimage and Beyond, were:

1. Definition of Pilgrimage:
‘Travel for transformation’ embraces the sacred journey as a potential turning point in one’s life. Witness the avalanche of books by pilgrims who have experienced the Camino, or those who have been influenced by the transformation of others, like Malcolm X.  After his experience of the Hajj pilgrimage, the activist was stirred to reevaluate his lifelong journey in search of justice and reconciliation as well as his thinking regarding race relations in the United States. Questions arise as to how and when a journey becomes ‘sacred’ and how and when pilgrimage devolves into a mere tourist endeavor.  Does tourism merely observe the authentic in others, whereas pilgrimage seeks it for oneself?

2. Reinforcing the Vision of the Ultimate Unity of Humanity:
Pilgrimage scholar George Greenia’s insight that ‘pilgrimages generate the least violent mass public gatherings [that] humankind has designed for itself’ inspires the question: In what ways can the concept of the sacred journey lend itself to envisioning a world united in difference?  We can reflect, for instance, on the sacred journey to Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka, a site of interfaith and intercultural pilgrimage interpreted differently by various pilgrim sects. For Buddhists, a sacred footprint in a rock formation is said to belong to Buddha, whereas for Hindus, it is deemed to be Shiva’s footprint, and for Muslims and Christians, it is thought to be Adam’s. This pilgrimage site provides a powerful example of interfaith cooperation.

3. Pilgrimage and Globalization:
The global playing field is leveling and technology is impacting pilgrims in innumerable ways. In Mecca, for instance, telephone ‘apps’ assist Hajj pilgrims searching for animals for sacrifice; in Lourdes, another ‘app’ provides details on miraculous healings, proudly declaring, ‘A miracle could happen’ during the pilgrim’s visit. Infrastructural and support services are also improving, and jour­neys once thought to be too diffi­cult or challenging, such as that to Amarnath in India, are now within reach of vast numbers of pilgrims. Will modern conveniences alter traditional experiences, create entirely new ones, or both?

4. Modernization and the Global Trend Towards the Dissolution of Traditional Ways:
Pilgrims cling to what they ascertain as familiar and reaffirm what they believe to be ‘true’ at local levels. There may be a growing awareness that ‘the world is one’ and that we must work together to deal with our common ecological, political, and security problems, but in the interest of cultural survival, primordial standard-bearers like nation, tribe, and race have been reified and re-energized; for instance, journeys of all persuasions are now being undertaken along ancient pathways that have been rediscovered and/or redeveloped. What kinds of trends along these lines might we forecast for the future?

5. Secular Pilgrimage:
Major secular pilgrimage sites, such as to Abbey Road in London, or to Elvis Presley’s home ‘Graceland’, or Jim Morrison’s (The Doors) grave site in Paris, attract astonishing numbers of ‘pilgrims’. What are the similarities and differences between sacred and secular pilgrimages? More and more we are living in a ‘global village’ and the ‘pilgrimage in my front room’ phenomenon is facilitated by video and satellite links. These changes raise the question: must pilgrimages, whether sacred or secular, always involve a physical journey ‘in league’ with others? Virtual or alternative pilgrimages are important topics for consideration; so, too, are related online experiences that recreate the pilgrimage or tourism experience in a virtual world.

In light of our broad exploration, and these new directions, we would also welcome proposals that might take into consideration the following:

* New definitions of sacred and secular pilgrimage, and the question of authenticity.
* How historical perspectives on the meaning(s) of pilgrimages and motives for travel are changing over time.
* The metaphor of ‘the journey’ as explored by writers, artists, performers and singers, including humanists, agnostics, atheists and musicians.
* The notion of journeying toward ‘salvation’.
* Pilgrimage and ‘miracles’ and the related topic of thanksgiving.
* The post-pilgrimage experience (which can be non-religious and/or secular, involving, for instance devotional exercises, meditation practices, mental journeys, etc).
* ‘Dark’ pilgrimages to sites of remembrance and commemoration (i.e., the Hiroshima Peace Museum, the Irish National Famine Museum, Rwanda genocide memorials, etc.).

The Steering Group welcomes the submission of proposals for short workshops, practitioner-based activities, performances, and pre-formed panels. We particularly welcome short film screenings; photographic essays; installations; interactive talks and alternative presentation styles that encourage engagement.

What to Send:
Proposals will also be considered on any related theme. 300 word proposals should be submitted by Friday 13th March 2015. If a proposal is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper of no more than 3000 words should be submitted by Friday 22nd May 2015. Proposals should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; proposals may be in Word or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: Sacred Journeys 2 Proposal Submission.

All abstracts will be at least double blind peer reviewed. Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs:
Ian McIntosh: imcintos@iupui.edu
Eileen Moore Quinn: quinne@cofc.edu
Rob Fisher: sj2@inter-disciplinary.net

The conference is part of the Persons series of ongoing research and publications projects conferences, run within the Probing the Boundaries domain which aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore innovative and challenging routes of intellectual and academic exploration. All proposals accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook.  Selected proposals may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.

Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation.

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.