MAVCOR Journal

MAVCOR Journal is an open access born-digital, double blind peer-reviewed journal dedicated to promoting conversation about material and visual cultures of religion. Published by the Center for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion at Yale University and reviewed by members of our distinguished Editorial Board and other experts, MAVCOR Journal encourages contributors to think deeply about the objects, performances, sounds, and digital experiences that have framed and continue to frame human engagement with religion broadly understood across diverse cultures, regions, traditions, and historical periods.

Volume 3: Issue 1
Essays Audible Paintings: Religious Music and Devotion to the Infancy of Christ in the Art of the Viceroyalty of Peru Carolina Sacristán-Ramírez

Paintings are silent, but not to those who know how to listen. Some paintings appeal to the sense of hearing in order to stimulate the beholder’s emotional engagement. For eighteenth-century nuns living in the Viceroyalty of Peru, paintings could evoke Latin polyphony or villancicos, songs in the vernacular performed in sacred contexts.

Collections Modern Art in Egypt and Constellational Modernism: A New Approach to Global Modern Art Alex Dika Seggerman

To challenge the problematic narratives of modernity, perpetuated by both traditional and emergent approaches to modernism, Egyptian modern art should be analyzed through a new paradigm called, “constellational modernism.”

Mediations Trump’s Wall: A Monument of (Un)Civil Religion? Lloyd Barba

Trump has relentlessly pushed for a “monument” that cannot be torn down or simply relocated: the wall.

Constellations Adobe and Stone Churches of New Mexico: A Selection Frank Graziano

The architecture of New Mexican village churches is often described as vernacular, which is to say that the construction materials (adobe, stone, vigas, latillas) are local; the design reflects local taste, tradition, and resources; the construction standards are idiosyncratic, pursuant to the experience, inclinations, and skills of the builders; and the finished product represents the history and cultural identity of the community.

Volume 2: Issue 1
Essays Elijah Pierce and Material Conversions Sally M. Promey

Obey God and Live (Vision of Heaven) is Elijah Pierce’s personal conversion narrative. In this piece of wood he depicted the definitive episode of his own spiritual autobiography, an event in his past that he understood to (re)organize, interpret, and frame his entire life.

Constellations Street Altars in Mexico City Esther Kersley

This series of images, taken over the course of six months, documents the street altars dotted around Mexico’s dense, urbanized capital, home to over twenty-one million people.

Object Narratives Miki Kratsman, Diptych from The Resolution of the Suspect Laura S. Levitt

In The Resolution of the Suspect, photographer Miki Kratsman builds on the reliquary nature and the transitive qualities of the carte-de-visite, creating a diptych: the historic image on one page of the centerfold and his own photograph of the bloody garment of a single unnamed Palestinian martyr on the other.

Object Narratives Georgia O’Keeffe, Black Cross with Stars and Blue Jeffrey Richmond-Moll

In 1929, on her first visit to New Mexico, the American artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) observed the animate potential of the region’s religious material culture.

Volume 1: Issue 1
Essays The Canopy Tomb of Edward Shippen Burd Suzanne Glover Lindsay

This American monument may even present an understudied alternative vision of the afterlife—one incorporating an intermediate phase just after death—that runs through nineteenth-century Protestant and Anglo-Episcopal sources.

Conversations Reconstructing the Faces of the Saints, an Interview with Friar Luis Enrique Ramírez Camacho, O. P. Interviewed by Emily C. Floyd

In 2014 the Dominican Order in Peru worked with Brazilian NGO EBRAFOL to produce digital facial reconstructions of Peruvian saints Rose of Lima, Martin of Porres, and John Macías.

Conversations Nruhari Das on Material Culture and Krishna Consciousness Interviewed by Ashley Makar

Ashley Makar interviewed Nruhari Das on September 22, 2012 at the Sri Sri Radha Govinda Mandir ISKON Hare Krisha Temple in Brooklyn, New York.

Conversations Shep Parson on Material Culture and Protestant Ministry Interviewed by Ashley Makar

Ashley Makar interviewed Shephard (Shep) Parsons in 2011 when Parsons was minister at Shelton Congregational Church in Shelton, Connecticut. He is currently Senior Pastor at First Church of Christ, Woodbridge, Connecticut.

Conversations: An Online Journal of the Center for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion

MAVCOR began publishing Conversations: An Online Journal of the Center for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion in 2014. In 2017 we selected a new name, MAVCOR Journal. Articles published prior to 2017 are considered part of Conversations and are listed as such under Volumes in the MAVCOR Journal menu.

Essays Jamestown’s Relics: Sacred Presence in the English New World Christopher M. B. Allison

A remarkable reliquary helps us imagine new possibilities around the earliest English settlement in North America.

Object Narratives An American Sufi Shrine, Bawa’s Mazar in Coatesville, Pennsylvania M. Shobhana Xavier

An ethnically and religiously diverse spiritual community near Philadelphia founded by a Tamil teacher from Sri Lanka.

Object Narratives From Illuminated Rumi to the Green Barn: The Art of Sufism in America M. Shobhana Xavier

The role material culture has played in the introduction of non-Christian forms of spirituality into the United States as examined through Sufi art.

Medium Studies Tears of the Sun: The Naturalistic and Anthropomorphic in Inca Metalwork Emily C. Floyd

Why did the Inca approach metal so differently from other sculptural media, most notably stone?

Mediations Making Crosses, Crossing Borders: The Performance of Mourning, the Power of Ghosts, and the Politics of Countermemory in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands Barbara Sostaita

If the land “was Mexican once and Indian always,” migrants are not outsiders or “illegals.” They—we—belong to the land.

Conversations Interview with American Sufi Artist Michael Green Interviewed by M. Shobhana Xavier

A follower of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, Green is based in Pennsylvania and is best known for his illustrations in The Illuminated Rumi (1997).

Object Narratives Virtual Meditation Cushion (Zafu) Gregory Price Grieve

What does a virtual meditation cushion tell us about material and visual cultures of religion?

Essays Julian Voss-Andreae, Angel of the West Jonathan Schorsch

The power to protect against “nature” now dwells in the human scientific-technological skills mastered by a certain culture, whose prowess enables it to discover these new (meta)physical angels and harness their powers.

Mediations Material Establishment and Public Display Sally M. Promey

The cultural politics of space has to do not simply with space itself, but with how it is occupied, enacted, performed, and marked—and sometimes, in Hawaiʻi and elsewhere, at least apparently unmarked.

Object Narratives Ex-Votos, Shrine of St. Roch, New Orleans Stephanie Bilinksy

Ex-votos at the Shrine of St. Roch occupy a complex place within conceptions of New Orleans as the subject of Protestant fascination with exoticized material aspects of Catholic practice.

Medium Studies Printing the Body of Christ on Fabric Suzanne Karr Schmidt

While most Renaissance and Baroque engravings, etchings, and woodcuts were printed on paper, some extraordinary impressions were produced on silk or linen. Contact relics provided a devotional inspiration for the most evocative of these prints on fabric.

Object Narratives Carte-de-visite Photograph of Maximilian von Habsburg’s Execution Shirt Eleanor A. Laughlin

The carte-de-visite of Maximilian von Habsburg’s shirt satisfied a sensational interest in the political event and served as a mourning object, offering the living both visual and tactile connections to the deceased to aid in the grieving process.

Essays Fabric of Devotion: William Quiller Orchardson’s The Story of a Life and Women Religious in Victorian Britain Ayla Lepine

Produced in a Christian tradition for the viewing pleasure of the London art world's cultured audiences, William Quiller Orchardson’s The Story of a Life alludes to the controversies and contentions of religious life and women’s roles in mid-nineteenth-century Britain.

Object Narratives George Martin Ottinger, Aztec Maiden Breanne Robertson

Utah artist George Martin Ottinger painted Aztec Maiden during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when numerous theories proliferated about the history and origins of indigenous American civilizations.

Mediations Revisiting the Property Room: A Humanist Perspective on Doing Justice and Telling Stories Laura S. Levitt

What does it mean to hold onto evidentiary objects, ordinary objects that may never make it to court, the evidence from the vast majority of crimes that remain otherwise unresolved, including so many of the horrific crimes that constitute the Holocaust?

Essays The Revolutionary Exhumations at St-Denis, 1793 Suzanne Glover Lindsay

The French Republic's July 1793 exhumation of the royal tombs intertwines not only contemporary religion and politics but also religious traditions with contemporary intellectual debate.

Object Narratives Our Lady of Cocharcas Emily Engel

Material objects, including a group of documentary paintings of Our Lady of Cocharcas, recall the processes by which ancient Andean pilgrimage traditions became deeply integrated into late-colonial socio-religious consciousness.

Object Narratives Mask with Superstructure Representing a Beautiful Mother (D'mba) Frederick John Lamp

What is the meaning of the word "spirit" in Africa?

Essays The Politics of (Mere) Presence: The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee Guy Jordan

The old Islamic Center of Murfreesboro was not, it seems, meant to be seen at all. A yearning to blend in, be ordinary, unremarkable, even overlooked, would, as I later discovered, inflect the architectural presentiments of the old and new centers alike, and provide an apt metaphor for the struggles that have confronted the Islamic community in this small city in central Tennessee.

Essays Praying through the senses: The Prayer Rug/Carpet and the Converging Territories of the Material and the Spiritual Minoo Moallem

Consumption as a material practice changes religious meanings and practices, and value comes to be invested in certain religious objects, rituals, and ideas rather than others.

Conversations Imam Shamsi Ali: Thoughts on Islam and Material Culture Interviewed by Ashley Makar

Imam Shamsi Ali is an Islamic scholar, Chairman of the Al-Hikmah Mosque in Astoria, and the Director of Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens.

Conversations Reverend Alex Dyer: Tradition and Innovation in the Episcopal Church Interviewed by Ashley Makar

Ashley Makar interviewed Reverend Alex Dyer, priest-in-charge of St. Paul and St. James Episcopal Church of New Haven, CT in May 2011.

Essays Martin Puryear, Desire Bryan Wolf

The world of handmade objects and manual labor turns strange in Puryear's Desire, and in this way, the ordinary becomes—here is list of options, choose one—estranged, uncanny, defamiliarized.

Object Narratives William Vander Weyde, Leon F. Czolgosz, McKinley Assassin Lindsay Reckson

Early debates around the use of the electric chair pivoted on the convergence of state and divine power.