The Hagiography Society is proud to join Ashgate in sponsoring Sanctity in Global Perspective, a series dedicated to multidisciplinary explorations of the concept of sanctity.
Not every global tradition venerates “saints,” as such, but all identify people of extraordinary virtue—of radically ambiguous “power”—whose lives and actions demand to be admired, honored, and imitated.
That veneration marks a potent site of cultural work, a place at once special and quotidian where a community’s ambitions and nightmares settle, where comedy nests with tragedy in the group’s identification of the “saint” and ritual elaboration of cult.
Cult thus finds expression in repetition and improvisation, in luxury and deprivation, in peace and violence, in humble obedience and arrogant defiance, in the chthonic, reliquary body and the ethereal, mystical one. The scholar of sanctity addresses evidence that ranges from the visual, musical, and literary, to the architectural, pedagogical, and political. Cults stretch over many centuries and across disparate geographies. Their stories elicit every emotion, and invite comparison.
As a cultural locus, the “saint” both condenses and challenges a tradition’s beliefs and devotional practices. Sanctity may be put to serve cynical strategies as easily as noble aspirations, may reflect both a community’s optimism and its despair. The saint enfolds a tradition’s attitudes to birth and death, to family and kinship, as well as to institutions and rulers.
Sanctity in Global Perspective welcomes critical scholarship that brings new texts, images, spaces, and ideas into the world’s long conversation about extraordinary virtue. We seek to foster the crosspollination of ideas across traditions, regions, and academic disciplines.
About the series editors: Shahzad Bahir is Lysbeth Warren Anderson Professor in Islamic Studies (Department of Religious Studies) at Stanford University, USA. Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski is Professor of French at the University of Pittsburgh, USA. John Stratton Hawley is Professor of Religion at Barnard College, USA.