Department of Religious Studies

Matter of Contention:
Relics and Other Sacred Objects at the Crossroads of Religious Traditions

An inter-disciplinary colloquium at The University of Texas at Austin

April 23-24, 2012

Location:  Student Activity Center, Legislative Assembly Room (SAC 2.302)

Primary sponsors:  
Harrington Fellowship Program  |  Department of Religious Studies

Co-sponsored by:
Center for Middle Eastern Studies
  |  Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies  |  South Asia Institute  |  Department of Asian Studies  |  Department of History


This colloquium explores contention and competition over relics or other mobile repositories of religious power among the communities that venerate or value them. Our goal is to push the study of relics and other sacred objects beyond their location and function within seemingly discrete religious traditions to consider the material and social factors that conditioned their ongoing relevance across multiple-and often rival-religious communities. Religious rivalry over objects takes a variety of forms, ranging from physical conflicts for the possession of material remains to discursive arguments about such objects' meanings and narratives. While participants will examine particular examples according to their areas of specialization, the colloquium as a whole will consider broader patterns across space, time, and cultural context.


Adam H. Becker, New York University
Ra'anan Boustan
, University of California, Los Angeles and The University of Texas at Austin
Donald Cosentino, University of California, Los Angeles
Benjamin Fleming, University of Pennsylvania
Cynthia Hahn, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
James Robson, Harvard University
Jalane Schmidt, University of Virginia
Gregory Schopen, University of California, Los Angeles
Chad Seales, The University of Texas at Austin
Patricia Spyer, Leiden University
Rolf Strootman, University of Utrecht
Annabel Wharton, Duke University

Download the conference poster (PDF).