Figurations and Sensations of the Unseen in Judaism, Christianity and Islam: Contested Desires (cover below) has just been released as an Open Access-publication by Bloomsbury Collections. The book was edited by Birgit Meyer (Utrecht University) and Terje Stordalen (University of Oslo).
Contributions include essays by Wendy M.K. Shaw, Yvonne Sherwood, Christoph Uehlinger, Kalman P. Bland, Christiane J. Gruber, Jens Kreinath, Pedram Khosronejad, Heike Behrend, Sonja Luehrmann, Øjvind Norderval, Else Marie Bukdahl, Ulrike Brunotte, Christiane Kruse, Birgit Meyer, and Terje Stordalen.
Judaism, Christianity and Islam are known to privilege words over images. This book shows, however, that the reality is more complex. Figurations and Sensations of the Unseen explores the complex procedures used to render the invisible as visible and the elusive as tangible in these three traditions. Working from different disciplinary angles, contributors reflect on figuration and sensation in biblical culture, medieval Jewish culture, the imagination of the unseen in Islamic settings, Christian assaults on ‘idolatry’ in Africa, baroque and modern Church art, contemporary Eastern Orthodox tradition, photography on the East African coast, European opera and literature, and more.
The book shows that the three religious traditions have formed sensorial regimes: embodied habits, traditions and standards for seeing, sensing, displaying, and figuring that which could not, or should not, be seen. So, the desire for seeing the invisible and experiencing the beyond are paradoxically confirmed, contested and controlled, by the sensorial regimes in vogue. This carries over even into secularized use of religious figurations in arts and literature.
Figurations and Sensations of the Unseen is an important read for scholars of anthropology, religious studies, Jewish studies, Christian studies, Islamic studies, art history, cultural studies, biblical studies and archaeology.