“Walking with saints: protection, devotion and civic identity” focusses on the origin and evolution of procession rites with a strong link with the landscape. This conference, therefore, aims at studying the religious landscape, be it a specific spot or a larger territory, not as the mere spatial background for spiritual activities, but as an active agent in the shaping, transmission and transformation of the spiritual activity of human beings throughout time. Hence, we invite also reflections on developments in the 19th and 20th centuries when a rediscovering of the past, both within and outside the Christian churches, was en vogue and when new ways of looking at the natural landscape were moulded in the aftermath of the industrialisation of the economy.
Though the starting point is an activity that is typical for Europe, we are interested in broadening the perspective to non-Christian and non-Western traditions that have an important connection with the landscape in which they are performed. It is generally known, for example, that the landscape and natural phenomena play an important role in the traditions of indigenous cultures in Australia, the Americas and Africa. In Asia walking with the statues of gods is a common, though little understood, phenomenon. It is to be expected that these traditions can broaden our understanding of the role of the landscape in the development and sustainability of immaterial heritage.
Papers are invited that deal with the following themes of the conference:
- Sacralisation of the landscape: alteration, destruction and resistance
- Immaterial heritage: religion and landscape
- Perennial aspect of immaterial heritage
- Immaterial heritage and community building: identity, assimilation, integration
- Healing saints in their territorial context
- The influence of processions on the landscape and on the drawing of parochial and city boundaries
- Processions, pilgrimages and the senses
- Healing saints, magic and assimilation
The starting point for the conference and the reason why it is held in Ronse is the Fiertel Ommegang.
This 3 day conference will be hosted by the city of Ronse and is part of an assessment of the local Fiertel procession as a possible candidate for recognition as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.