The notion of secularization is a freighted and a contested one, particularly so in Jewish contexts. The theme of the Frankel Institute will focus on the complexity and dynamism of processes of making objects, acts, and relationships holy and marking off others as worldly and apart from spiritual life. What processes are actually at play in the apparent disaggregation of faith from everyday life, or, conversely, in the processes of imbuing or reimbuing material life with spiritual content? “Secularization/Sacralization” may best be conceived as a problem cluster that signals moments of self-consciousness of shifting relations of interior faith and faith communities to civic life, inter-group relations, and the everyday. This implicitly comparative project invites participants who explore contacts among Jewish, Christian, and Islamic secular and sacral processes within an array of disciplinary discussions.
The processes of secularization and sacralization are key to inquiries into the changes within Judaism and in the ways in which Jews interacted with non-Jews. These shifts and relations are not limited to the modern period. Asking questions about the sacred and the secular in Judaism needs to involve the places where and ways in which personal faith, communal relations, and daily life practices coincided, and the ways in which spiritual and worldly have been interwoven. The Frankel Institute deliberately focuses on the processes of secularization and sacralization rather than the static dichotomy of the sacred and secular, or presumed states of holiness and secularity, and rejects assumptions that these processes are identical in different times and places, or lead to a common and determined endpoint. The Frankel Institute invites applications from diverse scholars for a theme year that will help prepare the ground for thinking differently about these processes as well as our study of them.
Applications Due October 3, 2014