Moving Images and Media Rituals
28 July - 8 August * Heidelberg / Germany

Summer School organised by the Ritual and Media Working Group of the Collaborative Research Centre SFB 619 "Ritual Dynamics", University of Heidelberg.

Media and Rituals – The Summer School ‚Moving Images & Media Rituals’ at the South Asia Institute
Christiane Brosius & Karin Polit

Rituals pervade and structure the everyday and the lives of all societies – no one is able to avoid them. Predominantly, research in the Humanities concerning rituals is mainly focused on text (e.g. liturgies). But texts are not able to communicate the experience of the ritual’s attendants, how it smells in a Hindu temple, how it feels like to dance around a fire-place in the dark of an Australian night. Sound, smell and gesture are essential parts of a ritual. In order to convey those intangible aesthetic and performative dimensions to larger publics, both ritual agents and scientists use different media. Recent research concentrates on religious and secular, traditional as well as modern rituals, e.g. rituals of possession and life-cycle-rituals like initiation in Nepal and Australia or religious rituals in the virtual world of the Internet. The focus has now shifted to the aesthetic and media dimensions of rituals and the possibilities of new media technologies like digitalization which benefit the research itself.
For two weeks (28 July – 8 August, 2008) international known scholars and filmmakers met for the Summer School ‚Moving Images & Media Rituals’ at the South Asia Institute to discuss with students and young scholars their experiences of film, video, Internet and other visual media in the context of their work on rituals. Scholars like Marcus Banks (Oxford), Howard Morphy (Canberra), Sarah Pink (Loughborough), Erik de Maaker (Leiden), Manfred Krüger (Göttingen) und Ron Grimes (Ontario) followed our invitation. Members of the Collaborative Research Center 619 also presented their latest work either resulting from a cooperation with documentary filmmakers (Gutschow and Michaels, with Bau and Hemmleb), their own scientific filming (Hüsken) or participating observance in virtual worlds like Second Life (Heidbrink and Radde). In this scientific context the attendants of the summer school could gain insight in recent and interdisciplinary theories, methods and practice. They took part in online-rituals, analysed films and stirred a variety of challenging discussions.
The attendants came from across Europe like the Netherlands, Romania, Denmark, Switzerland and Czech Republik. They were students and young scholars from various disciplines like Cultural Anthropology, Media Studies, Religious Studies, Educational Science and Indology.
The Summer School was conducted by members of the Collaborative Research Center ‚Ritual Dynamics’ at the University of Heidelberg which is funded by the German Research Foundation since 2002.
For more information, please visit the homepage of the SFB 619 ‚Ritual Dynamics’