Religious Contacts and Conflicts in the Rites of Passage: European and Extra-European Perspective on the Early Modern Period

The goal of the conference is to analyze religious/confessional contacts and conflicts through the prism of rites of passage from the perspective of current research on the Early Modern period. The permeability of confessional/religious boundaries where rites of passage are concerned will receive special attention.
The focus is on birth and initiation rituals such as baptism or circumcision as well as rituals connected with mixed marriages and death. In the last case, for example, one could ask whether members of different faith could be buried in the same cemetery or if there was any interchangeability of clergy officiating at the moment of dying.

An important aspect of examining rites of passage will be to decode the ways in which these rituals were shaped and established as well as strategies for coping with differences in the religious, political and social dimensions of such rites. These rites of passage should be understood as a central marker for drawing confessional and religious boundaries, that is, as key indicators of boundary crossing. In them, manifestations of church, state and local power can be read. They can also be understood as a medium that numerous actors used to express their own interests, identities and differences in strategies and resources and one that could spark mobility and set migrations in motion. Moreover, rites of passage helped to influence the content and dynamics of confessional and religious boundary relationships through the processes of inclusion and exclusion, integration and isolation, and the perceptions of self and other that were bound up with integral aspects of these rituals.

In Europe the processes of confessionalization and nation state formation made rites of passage into a political issue.  Different types of authorities—ecclesiastical, state, local—both competed among themselves for, and simply sought to establish, control over interconfessional and interreligious contact/conflict—alternately clashing, negotiating, and compromising. In this light, Early Modern Europe appears as a laboratory for religious co-existence. Rites of passage helped to lay the foundations for religious coexistence and tolerance and to negotiate interconfessional and interreligious boundaries both internal (between Catholic, Protestant and Reformed, and Jewish communities and regions) and external (with the Muslim world, the East, and the New World).

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Casino, R 823

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