A Milestone in the Science of Ritual

5 08 2008
The international conference "Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual" by Heidelberg University's collaborative research center SFB 619 "Ritual Dynamics", points out the tense relation between ritual dynamics and ritual science and breaks new ground in research — September 29 to October 2
The collaborative research center SFB 619 "Ritual Dynamics" is regarded worldwide as a pioneer in the science of ritual. Renowned experts from all over the world as well as some 500 participants are expected at the SFB 619 conference in fall 2008. So far, cultural science always attributed a tendency towards being static to rituals. Based on its large-scale interdisciplinary approach, SFB 619 now presents explanatory models that paint a new picture of the meaning of ritual actions. SFB 619's fundamental research proves that dynamics is an element as important to rituals as the apparent changelessness. At the conference, the SFB 619, Heidelberg University's most prominent collaborative research center, will present its new findings to a large international panel of experts for the first time.
The SFB 619 regards rituals as vital elements of everyday culture. Therefore, it is in fact the changeability of its rituals that proves a society's modernity. The SFB 619 even reveals this dynamic and power of rituals in ancient and medieval sources. The SFB 619's novel approach is oriented towards the performative character of rituals and proves rituals to be most creative and meaning-creating cultural elements, which even adapt to the possibilities of globalization and create new cross-cultural and international values. The SFB 619 is a pioneer in researching online-religions, being one of the first research facility to use the internet as scientific source. The connection between rituals and new media surely is one of the conference's most exciting topics. In 22 themed panels, some of them stretching over several days, more than 270 experts will present their findings and views. New subjects like intercultural transfer of rituals and ritual agency will be discussed and new research approaches such as ritual design, ritual economics and scientific rituals will be introduced. The SFB 619 strives to broaden and deepen its interdisciplinary approach. Disciplines so far not involved in the project "Ritual Dynamics" will learn to understand even processes, actions, as well as performative artwork as rituals.

Over 90 scientists from 15 disciplines, from the field of humanities and cultural studies, contribute to the project "Ritual Dynamics". Founded in 2002, the SFB 619 is the world's largest research association exclusively investigating rituals as well as their change and dynamics and, at the same time, one of the largest humanities collaboration research centers in Germany. Already during its founding phase, the UNESCO incorporated the project "Ritual Dynamics" into the official contributions to the United Nations Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations 2001. The SFB 619 is one of five excellence institutions at Heidelberg University, constituting the cluster of excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context".

To point out the social relevance of the science of ritual and to meet the University's educational duty, the SFB 619 proclaimed the year 2008 "Year of the Ritual". In this spirit, the conference's supporting program addresses the interested public. Early-bird registration price is available until August 14, 2008. Closing date for online-registration is September 8, 2008. Day tickets can only be purchased on-site.

Further Information
(Conference website in English)
(Information about the collaborative research center SFB 619 in German and English)

Alexandra Heidle, M.A.   
Managing director SFB 619 "Ritual Dynamics"
Tel. +49(0)6221-54 88 47
Fax +49(0)6221-54 87 99

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer
University of Heidelberg

Irene Thewalt

Editor: Email