This network was funded from Dec 2018 - Dec 2020.
Pilgrimage is a practice shared by all of the world's major religions, taking place across the globe and from antiquity to the present day. Pilgrimages have inspired commemoration in works of art and memoirs. They have fostered the circulation of souvenirs, relics, and travel accounts. For much of history, they were a significant way through which individuals would encounter distant places and foreign cultures. Yet, for all of its relative ubiquity, the practice has not been without controversy. Theologians have argued about whether pilgrimage is a worthy and devout undertaking or a frivolous distraction from proper piety. Pilgrimage sites feature in military history, as violent conflicts can break out over highly contested places important to different groups of people. Even today, the idea of pilgrimage still prompts debates about authenticity, both of practice and intent. Perhaps this is because, regardless of where or when they occur, pilgrimages engage with some fundamentally human endeavours: attributing significance to objects and places, understanding our participation in historical traditions, developing and reconfiguring ideas of the sacred, and shaping conceptions of ourselves and others.
The Oxford Pilgrimage Studies Network provided the opportunity to bring together colleagues across the humanities and social sciences to discuss any and all aspects of pilgrimage studies. We staged a variety of events to engage both the Oxford academic community and a wider audience.
Sylvia Alvares-Correa, Department of History of Art
Professor Jaś Elsner, Faculty of Classics
Helena Guzik, Department of History of Art
Fuchsia Hart, The Khalili Research Centre
Professor Sondra Hausner, Faculty of Theology and Religion
Professor Wes Williams, Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages
Main Contact: Helena Guzik
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