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Call for papers for Temporalités n° 30 (2019/2)—“Temporalities of the Sacred, Rhythms of the Religious”

An issue coordinated by Lionel Obadia (LARHRA, Université Lumière 2) and Beate Collet (GEMASS, Sorbonne Université)

To approach the sacred (as a reference category qualifying the relationship between Man and the invisible and the supernatural) and the religious (as an institutionalized implementation of this relationship and its variations) in terms of “temporality” is not only relevant but federative and fertile in many respects. Sciences of the religious all have, but under different angles, discussed the forms, variations and experiences of time as expressions of the sacred, but also as they create sacredness (Hubert, 1905, Eliade, 1965). The temporalities of the religious and the sacred deserve some interest, in times when the social and political relationships between religions are being recomposed and (inter-)religious and syncretic practices are being renewed, subjecting the process of secularization to new questioning.

Rhythms of the religious

The conception of religious practices and rhythms as organized around their own timetables induced by oral or scriptural traditions has long been explored (Vallet, 1998), while renewing itself regularly (for instance, Pirenne-Delforge & Tucan, 2003). It maintains a balance in analysis between the field of representations and the field of practices (Gauthier, 2013). The scriptural or oral principles of religions act as organizing schemes of praxeology, in institutional contexts (ceremonial or liturgical) organized around precise sequences, but also in the progress of everyday life, through all the “little” acts composing more subtle temporalities (Piette, 2005).

The Rhythms set by the religious in social and cultural life, through the symbolic and ideological framing of action, are particularly measurable in ritual economy. The latter is a clear display of the space where representations, symbols or figures of the sacred time meet the markers, signs and gestures that orchestrate, in practice, all that is religious (Turner, 1992). In this field, the analysis of rituals and their comparison, in historical, geographical, cultural and of course religious contexts is extremely fertile, involving analysis of ritual or gestural performativity, as they are concerned with the structuration of time and Rhythms. But in the religious field, as elsewhere, the distinction between time and temporality, between the ontological model and its social incarnations and subjective perceptions remains a relevant area of questioning: vast fields of analysis remain to be delved upon, around the model of reality that is time and the model for reality that is temporality, as well as about the meeting points and discrepancies between the two (Terrain, 1997).

Visible temporalities, discreet temporalities

Popular religions and folk beliefs establish ordinary and extraordinary experiences within the rhythm of daily life, relevant to a different relationship to time and to very subtle temporalities, whereas less socially exposed. This duality between visible temporalities and discreet temporalities in the field of the sacred represents yet another panel of study to be explored, in order to give an account of the complexity of temporalities, of the way their are empirically embedded and of their theoretical articulations.

Temporal categories and repertories

Another line of reflection is concerned with the way in which religions, in specific contexts, articulate large categories of temporalities (past, present, future) in narrative forms (Calame, 2005), myths, legends, theologies, but also in social forms such as cults, groups, tradionalist, spiritualist or apocalyptic movements, who produce and deploy concepts and practices that forge specific temporal repertories—passeism, presenteeism, futurism—beyond the religions’ own models of religious time (cyclic or linear).

Religious temporalities versus profane and secular temporalities

Thereafter, in order to extend the aforementioned line of analysis, the rich and complex relationships between religious temporalities and other forms of temporalities, profane or secular, should be examined. Particular attention should be paid to the nature of (complementary, competing, ambivalent) relationships, as well as to temporality conflicts on a time scale (along the movement of modernity), and in cultural and geographical contexts different from the Occidental world (Ji, 2016).

Changes and modernisation processes

Finally, the notion of temporality appears to be a very useful conceptual operator to understand how the sacred and the religious modify themselves over time – for instance in studies focusing on modernisation processes, changes in cultural and temporal frames, accelerations of social or economic transformations or transitions, consistency in, or breakup of, the relationships to time (Gauchet, 1985). In doing that, the associated semantic network as a whole should be analysed, and the way in which concepts such as the historicity regime, forged in a different context, can apply to the analysis of the temporality of the religious, or go beyond it.

Advances in research are a fuel to a number of topics delved upon by a large spectre of disciplinary fields interested in the religious: history, sociology, anthropology, political science, psychology, literature and humanities. They know no historical span nor geographical frame, for the large-scale established religions which have imposed a set of rules, norms, ways of living from Antiquity to the present day open the way to the analysis of complex relationships. This analysis is concerned with the relationships between temporality, sacrality and politics, as related to all the strategic and instrumental aspects that underlie, as a whole, the control of the rhythm of activities and life spaces.

This global overview of the possibilities of analysis of the temporalities of the sacred, of the Rhythms of the religious and of the forms and dynamics of historicity does not cover the whole field of perspective wished to be open in this issue of Temporalités, but it does light a number of beacons in order to fuel this area of study through undeniably fertile analysis and empirical studies, obviously very relevant to our current times.

Submission of proposals for articles

Authors may submit their proposals to the guest editors, Lionel Obadia ( and Beate Collet (, copying the editorial office of the Journal (

The submission should include a title, a 5000-character maximum abstract in French or English, the name, contact details and institutional affiliation of the author, and should be sent up to the 10th of January 2019.

Planning and deadlines

Submission of proposals (5000 characters maximum): 10th January 2019
Reply from coordinators: end of January 2019

Submission of papers (50 000 characters maximum): 23rd April 2019
Feedback: 1st June 2019
Submission of revised version: 2nd September 2019
Submission of final version: 21st October 2019
Publication: December 2019


Calame Claude, 2005. « Pour une anthropologie des pratiques historiographiques », L’Homme, 173, 11-46.

Eliade Mircéa, 1965. Le sacré et le profane, Paris, Gallimard.

Gauchet Marcel, 1985. Le désenchantement du monde : Une histoire politique de la religion, Paris, Gallimard.

Gauthier Claudine, 2013. « Temps et eschatologie », Archives de sciences sociales des religions, 162, p. 123-141.

Hubert Henry, 1904. « Étude sommaire de la représentation du temps dans la religion et la magie ». In : École pratique des hautes études, Section des sciences religieuses. Rapport sommaire sur les conférences de l’exercice 1904-1905 et le programme des conférences pour l’exercice 1905-1906. Paris, p. 1-39

Ji Zhe, 2016. Religion, modernité et temporalité. Une sociologie du bouddhisme Chan contemporain, Paris, CNRS Éditions.
— 2007. Le temps et la destinée humaine (collectif) Turnhout, Brepols, coll. « Homo religiosus » série II.

Piette Albert, 2005. « Fête, spectacle, cérémonie : des jeux de cadres », Hermès, n° 43, p. 39-46.

Pirenne-Delforge Vinciane et Ohnan Tunca (Eds.), 2003. Représentations du temps dans les religions – Actes du colloque organisé par le Centre d’Histoire des Religions de l’Université de Liège, Liège, Faculté de Philosophie.

Turner Victor, 1992. From Ritual to Theatre. The Human Seriousness of Play, New York, PAJ Publications.

Vallet Odon, 1998. « Temps et religion ». Autres Temps. Cahiers d’éthique sociale et politique, 57, p. 25-30.
— 1997. « Vivre le temps », revue Terrain, 29.

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