In texts as well as in testimonials and representations, intercultural encounters are often narrated in terms of affinity and distance. Something in the other attracts either because it is familiar or because it looks foreign; or it gets denounced and portrayed as unacceptable for one of the same two reasons (that is to say: both another tradition’s perceived proximity and its perceived foreignness can be used to justify either the attraction it possesses to the observer or the rejection it elicits). In this workshop, we ask participants to reflect on the work that the notions of affinity and distance are made to perform in a range of source materials as strategies for appropriation and othering, drawing close, and distancing. Consistent with the overarching theme of ‘Recognizing Religions’ the aim is to uncover the ways in which not only dispositions towards the other take shape in the act of recognition but how each community’s self-understanding also gets communicated and transformed in the process.
The Recognizing Religions project, which this workshop is a part of, aims to study and discuss the impact that encounters, interaction, and mutual recognition of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, as well as followers of non-Abrahamic religions, had on their historical development and their understanding of themselves and others.
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