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Essays are narratives of varying lengths that engage in extended analysis of multiple images, objects, monuments, buildings, or spaces.

Volume 6: Issue 3 Characterizing Material Economies of Religion in the Americas

A special issue curated by Kati Curts and Alex Kaloyanides

  • Blue sky with a silver sculpture of connected letters
    Kati Curts, Alexandra Kaloyanides
    Kati Curts and Alex Kaloyanides introduce this special issue of MAVCOR Journal devoted to examining four key categories: “Material,” “Economies,” “Religion,” and “America(s).” The ambition of this issue is that the collective inquiries of its authors, which span various interpretive histories and genealogical fragments, can offer ways to better understand their assorted conveyances, as well as the powerful grip of their critical conjunction.
  • Silver medal with a European soldier and an Indigenous man of Turtle Island shaking hands
    Pamela E. Klassen
    For many Indigenous people of Turtle Island, also known as North America, treaty medals are material reminders of sacred promises made between their nations and the British Crown or the U.S. Government. Settlers and colonial officials, by contrast, have often treated these medals as mere trinkets.
Volume 6: Issue 2 Material Islam

A special issue guest edited by Kambiz GhaneaBassiri and Anna Bigelow. 

  • Anna Bigelow and Kambiz GhaneaBassiri
    Anna Bigelow and Kambiz GhaneaBassiri introduce this special issue of MAVCOR Journal devoted to Material Islam. It explores devotional objects, the Islamic sensorium, the book as a material object, the Muslim body, and the various roles of the mosque as a social, political, and spiritual space. Taken together, its varied essays demonstrate an incredibly wide-ranging, rich, and exciting arena of study.
  • Ayodeji Ogunnaike
    This article examines the genealogy of Afro-Brazilian mosques, answering some of the most immediate and puzzling questions that they force all who see them to ask. The answers to these questions demonstrate the fluidity of categories such as European, African, Islamic, and Christian, and how West African Muslims effectively drew on an architectural vocabulary with connections to three continents to forge an emergent cosmopolitan identity.
  • Anna Bigelow
    In exploring the multiple modalities of Muslim belonging and unbelonging in India, the arenas in which Muslims and non-Muslims interact, especially at shared holy places, are extremely illuminating locales. This essay explores the ways in which material and somatic forms of interreligious encounter at a Sufi dargah (درگاہ), or tomb shrine, in Bengalaru (Bangalore) exemplify everyday as well as spectacular practices of shared piety that also reimagine the possibility of collective belonging in a time of precarity.
  • Ali Karjoo-Ravary
    This article traces a fourteenth-century Persian history from Anatolia, Bazm wa Razm (Feasting and Fighting), written by ʿAzīz al-Dīn Astarābādī, from its presentation copy to its various recensions down to the modern period, examining how each era visually refigures this textual manifestation of its original patron, Burhān al-Dīn Aḥmad (r. 783-800 AH/1381-1398 CE), for a new purpose.
  • Nathan Hofer
    Ubiquitous across the medieval Islamic world, khalwa is the practice of self-isolation, typically in a small cell, in order to focus on pious devotions. This article offers one possible approach to theorizing the heterogenous elements of khalwa coherently by insisting that we take the material and the social as seriously as we do the human and the spiritual.
Volume 6: Issue 1
  • Watercolour of a manatee
    Cécile Fromont
    As part of their activities in Kongo and Angola Capuchin Franciscan friars created dozens of images and wrote hundreds of pages of text in works that they called "practical guides." These Capuchin didactic images form an exceptionally important corpus that enriches our knowledge of central Africa and dramatically multiplies the European-format visual record about the African continent before 1800.
  • Cécile Fromont
    Early modern central Africa comes to life in the images that Capuchin friars. This Capuchin central African corpus consists today in four extant manuscripts connected by form and content. This essay offers additional visual material from the corpus by featuring details of each individual vignette that comprise the 1650s poster now in the Museo Francescano, as well as the unpublished versos of the Parma Watercolors that feature text.
  • Olaya Sanfuentes
    Embracing the belief that the humblest of individuals participated in Jesus’s birth with their presence and their gifts alongside the wisest, Christians of every era have wished to display their own participation and contribution to this foundational Christian event. This article describes the ways in which a traditional, rural-inspired society like that of Santiago, Chile at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries expressed itself through its nativity scenes.
Volume 5: Issue 2 Material Religion of High Altitude Ecologies

Guest edited by Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa and Kalzang Dorjee Bhutia in collaboration with MAVCOR Journal Editor Emily C. Floyd. The call for papers for this special issue invited scholars coming from diverse disciplines (religious studies, anthropology, archaeology, history of art, visual studies, etc) and working across a range of high altitude ecologies, from the Andes to the Himalayas and beyond, to consider how the specificities of these regions impact material and visual aspects of religious practice. This special issue is published on a rolling basis.

  • Painting of a conch shell against a plain blue background with red and yellow ribbon wrapped around it
    Kalzang Dorjee Bhutia, Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa
    Conch shells frequently appear as objects in religiously inspired artwork and shrines in Sikkim, west India. Their frequent appearance in material culture and invocation in Classical Tibetan-language literary culture is indicative of a rich repository of connections. This essay explores some of their many resonances, in particular their significance as indicators of ecological change in the Himalayas.
  • Catherine H. Popovici
    Bridging ecology, ethnohistory, linguistics, and art historical inquiry, this article argues that the various forms of vegetation encountered along the slope of Mount Tlaloc during the ascension of the tlahtoque were of ritual significance within Nahua worldview.

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