Workshop “Boundless Grace?” (organised by Bruno Boute, Birgit Emich, Bertrand Marceau, and Olivier Poncet)






Bad Homburg, Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften

The Frankfurt Research Group Polycentricity and Plurality of Premodern Christianities (POLY), in cooperation with the Franco-German Research Group GRACEFUL17: Global Governance, Local Dynamics. Transnational Regimes of Grace in the Roman Dataria Apostolica (17th Century), wishes to convene an interdisciplinary workshop of theologians, anthropologists, lawyers, and historians to investigate the potential of grace (or its functional equivalents in non-Christian societies) as an infinite resource that both mediates and is mediated by an open-ended list of practices and connections in this world and, in the Christian context, the beyond. As we move towards integrating grace as a hermeneutical category in our scholarly toolkit, how can we escape the “doctrine of grace” inherited from our own Christian past slipping into our scholarly lenses, as it was molded by Protestant criticisms of the Catholic practice and later by the Weberian linking of Calvinism and capitalism? How can we, secondly, overcome the dyadic opposition between grace on one hand and structure, law, tradition on the other assumed in anthropological studies, involve institutional charisma and grace – which seem oxymorons in our modern conceptions – and pursue an analysis that is based rather on the premise that medieval and early modern Europeans (among others?) “did” grace in a highly regulated, bureaucratic manner? Last but not least, how can we take a salutary distance from the exoticizing contraposition of a graceful premodern era with a graceless modernity marked by executive-style governance? Loosely drawing on recent scholarship concerning the rebounding of honour and shame in modern configurations (notably on the world wide web), we can also ask, did grace, having apparently receded into the shadows as a formal regime of governance, disappear altogether from our transactional worlds?

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