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Material Religion of High Altitude Ecologies

MAVCOR Journal announces a call for papers for a special issue on high altitude material and visual cultures of religion. Guest edited by Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa and Kalzang Dorjee Bhutia in collaboration with MAVCOR Journal Editor Emily C. Floyd, this special issue invites 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. Submissions might focus on contemporary religious practice or take a historical approach. Some of the questions we are interested in considering in this special issue include, but are not limited to:

- How can we move beyond envisioning material religion as reflecting the environment to conceptualize environments themselves, both earthly and metaphysical, as material forms?

- How do high altitude ecologies impact religious and ontological material and visual cultures?

- Does the presence of certain types of landscape (glaciers, mountains, high plain desert) influence material expression?

- Does resource scarcity encourage assigning alternative forms of value to materials?

- How are visual and material objects influenced by the availability of particular materials, and by the values attached to them?

- How do high altitude spaces cultivate or disrupt networks of shared forms of material and visual culture? How are these forms transmitted through trade, pilgrimage, and other forms of exchange?

- When high altitude ecologies are animated and divinities themselves, how does this impact the materiality of their representation?

-How does materiality facilitate communications and transactions with animated high altitude landscapes?

- How are the changes being wrought by climate change and other elements of the Anthropocene leading to the disappearance of forms of material expression and appearance of new forms?

Although this call specifically welcomes submissions related to high altitude ecologies, we also invite connections with other work that links ecology, geography, and the transformation of religion. We request that submissions be received by email to by January 15, 2021 and envision organizing a submission exchange and virtual conversation among participants prior to joint publication. MAVCOR Journal accepts submissions in a variety of formats, from short Object Narratives to longer more traditional Essays, to image-focused Constellations and Collections. We are able to publish audio and video, including audio and video-only submissions. For more information see

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