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CRCPD Seminar: The Politics of Iconoclasm

Wanneer:di 17-09-2013 16:00 - 17:30
Waar:Room 130 (note: start time changed)

The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas. Attacks on shrines in Timbuktu. Mosques and churches damaged in the new Kosovo. These events show that the breaking of sacred objects is as alive today as it was during the Protestant Reformation and the Dutch Beeldenstorm. From false idols and graven images to the tombs of kings and the shrines of capitalism, the targeted destruction of cities, sacred sites and artefacts remains central to our cultural legacy.

In this culture of iconoclasm, what links Christianity, Islam, and political revolution? How is the theology of the image connected to its destruction? And what connects this theology to the world of political society, war, and nationhood - that is, the politics of iconoclasm? In this talk organized by the Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain (CRCPD), James Noyes will examine different traditions of image-breaking in modern Christianity and Islam, as well as their relation to state-building.

Touching on examples which range from Calvinist Geneva, Revolutionary Paris, and Banja Luka during the Bosnian war, to the rebuilding of Wahhabi Mecca today, Dr. Noyes will present iconoclasm as a political as much as a religious act that crosses historical boundaries, and which connects the theology of the 'One God' to the urban centralization of the modern state. Our cities of the future, he will argue, are built on the rubble of broken icons from the past.

James Noyes completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge on a comparative study of Christian and Islamic iconoclasm. He has taught on religion, conflict, and social theory at the University of Nottingham and at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po). In addition to his teaching, he is a fellow of the Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain at the University of Groningen, and is part of the international 'Iconoclasms Network' supported by the University of Birmingham. He is the author of The Politics of Iconoclasm: Religion, Violence and the Culture of Image-Breaking in Christianity and Islam (London: I.B. Tauris, 2013), described by Talal Asad as 'an achievement', Mark Juergensmeyer as 'an eye-opener', and Christopher Coker as 'powerful, profound, and deeply disturbing'.

Location: Room 130, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies Oude Boteringestraat, 38, Groningen