Editors: Vincenzo M. Spera, Gianfranco Spitilli
The high level of formalization of the relations established between men and cattle is a feature of all agricultural and pastoral societies, present and past, being made by placing the animals at the core of the material and conceptual universe. Human society and animal society are shaping one another, producing a double and mutual process of domestication, continuously reiterated.
The theme of this number of Orma aims at focusing on the human-bovine relationship, by means of analyzing the ritual forms it takes within Europe, from the anthropological and historical-religious perspective.
The attention European and Mediterranean societies have shown to bovines since pre-historical times, destining them to occupy a privileged place in the religious sphere, and qualifying them as preferred animals in the mythological speculation and in the ritual construction, is being demonstrated in modern and contemporary Europe by the capillary diffusion of festive forms and ceremonial usages, even in places where the use of animals for agricultural labour and for transportation was less needed over the decades of the 20th century.
La corrida and the bull celebrations are documented everywhere in the Iberian Peninsula – with the exception of a large part of Galicia and of the north of Portugal – as well as in the regions of the south of France: extreme south-east, from Tolosa and Les Landes, all the way to the Spanish border, Provence and Auvergne. Languedoc and Camargue are rich in particular events marked by the presence of the bull or other bovines, as is the so-called Camarguese-race. The Italian territory, along the Alpin! e arch and the Appenninic ridge all the way to the descending hills, is bursting with ceremonial usages of the bovines, deeply intertwined with the ritual structures and the legends of the saints and of the Madonnae, to whom most of the celebrations are being dedicated: kneeling oxen or oxen yoked to triumphal carts, transporting saints, or carrying wheat, trees, ploughs, racing calves, cows transfigured by means of complicated decorations, bovine and animal masks in wood or in papier-mâché, made to explode or driven to a symbolic death, new festive constructions inspired from archaic ceremonials, in evocative keys. The use of simulacra and bovine disguises, in the processional and collecting variant, characterizes the Belgian region of Basse-Sambre; the fight between the cows is present especially in the Swiss region of Vallese, just as the cows are present at the center of the Landaise race and of the Andalusian pilgrimages in Spain; one particular ritual form, called “the Pe! ntecost Ox”, is to be met in a certain relatively restrained small area in Transylvania, in Romania.
The extreme variety of practices and transfigurations imposes the need for a double interpretive attention, to be condensed within the analyzing propositions meant for this forthcoming issue of Orma.
The frequent centrality attributed to the bull, as the main reference in both the classificatory systems and in the denomination of the ceremonials, seems insufficient to account for the typological variety and the symbolic complexity emerging from the field-researches of the last two decades, overflowing with the presence of cows, oxen and calves. The distinction between castrated and non-castrated animals, in particular, should be marked more vividly in either the classification of feasts and celebrations, or in specific ethnographic contexts, and is crucial in determining which direction does the identification process man-animal take, a process that is most often encoun! tered within two prevailing aspects: homology (bull/bull, ox/ox), and symbolic transfiguration (bull/ox or, more often, ox/bull).
Christianity has created or modeled many of these ceremonials, along the centuries. The connection between saints and bovines in the celebrations, where available, is expressed through salient constants, which should be outlined and emphasized. The type of projection and of bond established between the bovine and the saint, is defining, in the construction of rituals, the position of the animal and the role to him assigned, in an ever renewed appeal to the legend instituting the cult and the festive event. Identifying a fully Christian dimension within at least a part of these ceremonial ensembles, lifts from upon them the regular allegation of “paganism” attributed by clerical elites to rituals, and much too often internalized, as proper analytical category, by the learned culture. What comes to light out of it, in this interpretive key, is a genuine circularity of the matters and of the practices, a reciprocal influx between the various cultural strata, part-taking to a same system of significations, in a dense network of cross-references and internal contradictions all belonging to a same Christian ideological construction.
Eventually, we must describe and analyze carefully the expressive forms, the actors and the competences which the animal is crossing, from the agricultural techniques specific to rural societies, all the way to the festive usages to him given, as well as the features of this relationship kept between men and animals, with particular accent on the forms which this bond takes in everyday exercise, as foundation of the ritual construction. Men choose the bovines which best embody the legendary animal, take good care of them, tame them, and ultimately part with them, accepting and provoking, even, their death, and, preparing, thus, for the new celebration and feast.
Those interested! in publishing in this issue should send, no later than 15th June, an abstract written in one of the languages accepted by the Journal Orma [see the editorial policy athttp://journal.orma.ro/en/presentation/editorial-policy/], containing at maximum 4000 characters with spaces, as well as a selection of approx. 10 keywords, relevant for the directions and objectives of their contributions.
This proposal should be sent to:
Accepted papers will be noticed to authors as soon as possible, aiming to finish the collection of contributions by 15th Septem! ber, and submit them to the regular peer review procedures for publication.
The editors of Online – Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet (http://www.online.uni-hd.de/) invite researchers of all disciplines to hand in articles on their research dealing with religions on the internet. For our regular next issue 06 (2014) due for publication in December 2014 we are looking forward to receiving the title and a short abstract (max. 250 words) of the planned article until1st of July.
Online HJRI is an international open-access, peer-reviewed academic journal published by theInstitute of Religious Studies at the University of Heidelberg (Germany). The jour! nal is committed to promoting and (theoretically and methodically) advancing scientific research at the interface between religion and the internet.
The editors welcome submissions from all academic disciplines and perspectives (e.g. Religious Studies, Game Studies, Social Studies, Cultural Studies, Media Studies, Theology, Anthropology, etc.) focussing on general and specific issues of religion and new digital media, e.g. religion in video games. Additionally, we encourage authors to review (new) booksdealing with subjects relevant to the journal’s scopes.
Authors are expected to present their research in terms of relevant theoretical and / or methodological discussions and to be of interest to a wide, but mainly academic audience in a manner intelligible not only to specialists. „Online“ is looking forward to submissions and inquiries of any kind.
Important dates and deadlinese for issue 06 (2014):
(sub! ject to change)
- July 1st: submission of title and abstract
- July 15thl: Notification on the acceptance of your proposal by the editors.
- September 1st: Submission deadline for full article.
- October 1st: Deadline for comments, requests of revisions by the editors (if necessary).
- November 1st: Submission deadline for revised articles.
- December 2014: Publication of the Online Journal
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