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IMC 2016: Sessions

Session 517: Religious Communities and Food, I

Tuesday 5 July 2016, 09.00-10.30

Sponsor:Department for the Study of Religions, Masaryk University, Brno
Organiser:David Zbíral, Department for the Study of Religions, Masarykova univerzita, Brno
Moderator/Chair:Reima Välimäki, Department of Cultural History / Turku Centre for Medieval & Early Modern Studies, University of Turku
Paper 517-aFasting Practices of the 'Phoundagiagitai' in the Context of Patristic and Byzantine Monastic Theology and Practices
(Language: English)
Ylva Hagman, Institutionen för kultur och kommunikation, Linköpings Universitet
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Monasticism, Religious Life, Theology
Paper 517-bMedieval Manicheans, Dietary Restrictions, and the Rise of the Persecuting Society
(Language: English)
Rachel Ernst, Department of History, Georgia State University
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Religious Life, Rhetoric, Theology
Paper 517-cBetween Fasting and Ritual Suicide: Reconsidering the Cathar Endura
(Language: English)
David Zbíral, Department for the Study of Religions, Masarykova univerzita, Brno
Index terms: Anthropology, Monasticism, Religious Life

Since Caroline Walker Bynum's Holy Feast and Holy Fast, food as a cultural symbol and identity marker has become almost a commonplace in historical scholarship. Nevertheless, there is still considerable space left for research into what was (and was not) eaten in different religious communities of medieval Europe, as well as for fresh interpretations of their meal practices and dietary restrictions, and of the symbolic meanings they assigned to food. Ancient Christian ascetic practices and symbols were being transmitted and reinterpreted throughout the Middle Ages; new kinds of self-disciplining and even self-harming behaviour emerged within the Christian ascetic tradition; the avoidance of certain types of food served to draw boundaries between an in-group and its out-groups; dining habits of peoples and religious communities from outside Europe were being described in missionary and/or travel accounts; attitudes towards food were used to denounce some communities as heretical; and rumours of illicit orgiastic feasts haunted the imagination of churchmen. This panel sets out to examine this exciting field, focusing on what was eaten in specific religious communities, what reasons members of these communities gave for their dining and fasting practices, and how food, dining habits, dietary restrictions, fasting, and feasting served as tools of reflection about the identity of a group.