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Prestigeous FWO Postoctoral Fellowship Received

Now it is official: My senoir postdoctoral research fellowship application at Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) was successful, although the compatiotion was really tought. The project entitled “Stolen, shattered, demolished. Physical violence towards materialised ‘sacred’ in late antique inner-Christian conflicts” and it going to be realised between 2020-2023 at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at KU Leuven.

The project outline

This project is situated at the intersection of two prominent phenomena of late Antiquity: sacred violence and the rise of the ‘holy’. It seeks to explore specific signatures of physical violence (destruction, theft, etc.) against the ‘materialised sacred’, such as ‘holy objects’ (relics, venerated images) and ‘sacred space’ (churches, shrines) in inner-Christian conflicts. It presses forward to the ‘very heart’ of religious violence, as it targets ‘tangible divinity’.

The study combines three lines of research: (I) It reconstructs the historical and socio-cultural dimensions of the violent outbreaks. (II) It explores its rhetorical exploitation by the literary witnesses. (III) It analyses the conceptual level, that is, the function, role and impact of violence towards the ‘sacred’. The proposal’s novelty arises from its complex and original topic (intersection of two fields) and from its innovative and interdisciplinary methodology (combination of literary sources and archaeological evidence, critical evaluation by confrontation of both sorts of sources).

This study will result in (I) a critical reconstruction of individual cases, (II) an analysis of the
literary report’s ‘Sitz im Leben’, and (III) a better understanding of the significance and impact of ‘sacred violence’ in Late Antiquity. In this way, this project will contribute to the fundamental clarification of the
taxonomy of violence, and serves as a point of departure for a large-scale research grant application.