Open Panel/CfP ‘Doing as if…’: Simulation as Method, Theory, and Practice in the Study of Religion

EASR Cork – June 27-July 1, 2022

The panel aims to evaluate the potential of simulation as a key concept for the study of religion. We will examine how simulation is understood in diverse debates and across disciplines, to discuss how these can be fruitfully interlinked, and to focus on three areas: simulation as a theoretical concept; as a method in teaching and research; and as a form of cultural practice in the religious field.

Understood as creating a state of the ‘as if’ simulation has a firm place in thought experiments, imaginative practices, and epistemology. It is related to imitation, simulacrum, and virtuality. To act ‘as if’ is crucial for learning, planning, anticipating, or playing. Simulation has also been framed as the creation of something that is secondary to and interdependent from an ‘original.’ Nevertheless, the concept of embodied simulation suggests that, while simulation indeed relates to an original, the product is an emotional-habitual state accompanied by a sensorimotor transformation in its own right. Simulation can culminate to states beyond the agency of the simulating person, such as unconscious creation and the experience of empathy or the sense of belonging. In this sense, simulation is also linked to anticipation of future events as discussed in predictive processing theory of mind and event cognition. Another strand of debate is interested in the material and imaginative simulation of a ‘natural’ and social environment described as virtuality. To conceptualize simulation through different lenses allows us to grasp the creation of individual yet collective experiences and their analyses, ultimately leading to the evaluation of religious aesthetics in contemporary society.

We welcome contributions that cover these and comparable topics. We especially encourage papers that include questions of embodiment, cognition, and emotions, or which discuss the practical application of simulation in the classroom and the ethnographic field.

Abstracts are to be submitted via the conference website. Abstract submission should include your name, the title (no more than 15 words), five keywords, and an abstract of no more than 300 words. Call closes December 10th. You will be notified by Friday 4th February.

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