Webb Keane, George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Indonesian Muslims have been participating enthusiastically in the global rise of middle class piety. One way to gain insight into contemporary piety is to examine conflicts that might reveal the internal tensions and pressure points to which it is giving rise. Among the more puzzling conflicts for many outside observers to grasp have been those that center on semiotic transgressions. These can be especially important because of the role they play in mediating between subjectivities and the public world. Semiotic transgressions have also become important as sites of conflict within and between secular doctrines of freedom of religion and of expression. This talk focuses on the critical storm stirred up by the Qur’anic renderings produced by a prominent editor and literary critic, H.B. Jassin, during the last decades of the twentieth century. Although unique in many respects, the Jassin affair sheds light on some more general aspects of religious affect, objectification, and ethics.

Webb Keane’s writings cover a range of topics in social and cultural theory and the philosophical foundations of social thought and the human sciences. In particular, he is interested in semiotics and language; material culture; gift exchange, commodities, and money; religion, morality, and ethics; media and public cultures. His first book, Signs of Recognition: Powers and Hazards of Representation in an Indonesian Society is based on two years of fieldwork on the island of Sumba in Indonesia. The second book Christian Moderns: Freedom and Fetish in the Mission Encounter concerns the impact of Protestantism from colonial mission to postcolonial church. His forthcoming book, Ethical Life: Its Natural and Social Histories will be published by Princeton University Press in 2015.

(Non-)Philosophy and the Critique of the Secular is a symposium that attempts to reconceptualize the secular using the concepts of contemporary continental philosophy. The event comprises three presentations “Beginning Without the Secular” ( Daniel Colucciello Barber, ICI Berlin), “Dissimilar Messianity” (Anthony Paul Smith, La Salle University), “Immanence Without the World” (Alex Dubilet, UC Berkeley) – and an open discussion with the audience.

Fanny Howe, Poet, Essayist, Novelist

Brigid of Ireland was first a goddess, then a person, then a saint divided into multiple personalities and nationalities. She shows up, like Mary, all over the place and is useful for almost any situation. There are religious orders devoted to her, although she emanates a pantheistic aura, even a primitive one, both historically and in legends. I will talk about her as a child and adolescent, because there are so many contradictory attributes provided on paper and stone. Murroe is said to be the town in Ireland where Brigid was sent into foster care by her father, a brute. I only learned this after spending many years in that same town and under the influence of Michel de Certeau. (Howe)

Fanny Howe has written numerous books of fiction, essays and poetry and has won a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lenore Marshall Award and the Ruth Lilly Lifetime Achievement Award, among others. Her most recent collection of poetry Second Childhood, a Finalist for the National Book Award 2014, was published by Graywolf Press. She is currently a Visiting Writer at Brown University.

On Wednesday, April 8, Fanny Howe will be featured in the Holloway Poetry Series, Maude Fife Room (Wheeler Hall #315) from 6:30-8 pm. For information, visit hollowayreadingseries.wordpress.com.

Co-presented by Holloway Poetry Series.

Photo by Lynn Chistoffers

Graduate Student Event Grants

This conference intends to explore concepts and methods that index the thin line between science and religion. We will explore forms of classification, instrumentation, and technical practice as they frame this distinction, and questions of knowledge and its objects which arise therein.

For more information, contact Ashwak Hauter, ashauter@berkeley.edu or William Stafford, Jr., wstafford.jr@berkeley.edu

Sponsored by Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, Townsend Center Working Group on Form and Formalism, Department of Anthropology