The Power of Sacrifice: Contexts and Representations

January 18, 2012 - January 19, 2012
Cardiff University

Humanities Building, Room 2.01
United Kingdom


Crystal Addey
University of Wales Trinity St. David
Miranda Aldhouse-Green
Cardiff University
Nic Baker-Brian
Cardiff University
Simon Brodbeck
Cardiff University
Louise Child
Cardiff University
Fabrizio Ferrari
University of Chester
Douglas Hedley
Cambridge University
Sarah Hitch
Oxford University
Bettina Schmidt
University of Wales Trinity St. David
Juliette Wood
Cardiff University

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This interdisciplinary conference brings together classicists, historians, philosophers, anthropologists, religious studies scholars, and archaeologists to examine the ways in which sacrifice is received, theorised, reported and understood in a number of religious, social and cultural contexts, both ancient and modern.  Whether or not sacrifice is actually practised in a given culture, the theme of sacrifice, and in particular blood sacrifice, is often linked with powerful images and contentious debates.  For example, the use of tales of sacrifice to de-fame other religious traditions is neither new nor confined to western or Christian contexts.  However, sacrifice is not simply troubling to the onlooker from another culture.  Debates and divergences of practice arise within religious traditions, including stories about the divine origins of the substitution of coconuts for human heads, explorations of complex systems of obligation between people and gods in Greek and South Asian epics, and links between sacrifice and sex, both orthodox and transgressive.  Sacrifice is often seen, linked with, or theorised as a type of mediation or communication with the gods, food offerings or gifts to deities, heroes and divine figures.  Many of the speakers draw from the insights of social and anthropological theory, philosophy and psychology to explore the potency of sacrifice as a category that evokes debates about sex, gender, and the ethics of ritual killing and the ways in which these debates can be linked to power dynamics and disturbances in society.  

Registration for the conference is free (but attendees will need to provide their own lunch – a list of catering establishments and venues is included below). There is no need to register in advance.   The Conference will commence at 2.00pm on Wednesday 18 January 2012 and close at 5.00pm on Thursday 19 January.  A link to a map of Cardiff University is included below (the Humanities Building is no. 16 on the map). 

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