← Zurück zum Kalender

Mantras. Sound, Materiality, and the Body

12. Mai – 14. Mai 2022 

Inter­na­tion­al work­shop con­vened at the the Depart­ment South Asian, Tibetan and Bud­dhist Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vien­na and co-spon­sored by the Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary South Asia at Brown University.


“Mantras: Sound, Mate­ri­al­i­ty, and the Body” || May 12–14, 2022 || Work­shop at the Depart­ment South Asian, Tibetan and Bud­dhist Stud­ies, Uni­ver­si­ty of Vien­na; co-spon­sored by the Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary South Asia, Brown University.

For the last three thou­sand years, mantras in San­skrit and oth­er Indic lan­guages have pro­found­ly influ­enced reli­gions in South Asia and around the world. Mantras take many forms, mate­ri­al­iz­ing in the sound of the human voice, the silence of thought, the script of writ­ing and dia­grams, the space of shrines and tem­ples. In spite of the ubiq­ui­ty and rel­e­vance of mantras, aca­d­e­m­ic schol­ar­ship on mantras has pro­ceed­ed in fits and starts, impelled by research on spe­cif­ic texts, tra­di­tions, and contexts—but only rarely through the sys­tem­at­ic inves­ti­ga­tion of mantra as a cat­e­go­ry in its own right. While some stud­ies of mantra in terms of lan­guage, sound, and rit­u­al have gained wide atten­tion, the inter­sec­tions of mantra and oth­er impor­tant schol­ar­ly categories—the body, per­for­mance, media, mate­ri­al­i­ty, reli­gious author­i­ty and identity—are rel­a­tive­ly unexplored.

“Mantras: Sound, Mate­ri­al­i­ty, and the Body” will be an inter­na­tion­al work­shop con­vened at the the Depart­ment South Asian, Tibetan and Bud­dhist Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vien­na and co-spon­sored by the Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary South Asia at Brown Uni­ver­si­ty. This work­shop aims to fur­ther the growth of mantra stud­ies by bring­ing togeth­er schol­ars from var­i­ous disciplines—Indology, reli­gious stud­ies, South Asian stud­ies, anthro­pol­o­gy, art history—around our shared inter­est in mantras. We will curate sev­er­al days of con­ver­sa­tion on mantras in all their mul­ti­for­mi­ty, with a focus on sound, mate­ri­al­i­ty, and the body. What is a mantra, exact­ly? How does the phi­los­o­phy of mantra relate to prac­tice (and vice ver­sa)? What role does embod­i­ment play in mantra sys­tems? How do mantras medi­ate between prac­ti­tion­ers and their mate­r­i­al or spir­i­tu­al goals? How do mantras change when adapt­ed to new tech­nolo­gies and media? How do mantras shape iden­ti­ties, com­mu­ni­ties, and tra­di­tions? With the aim of grap­pling with these big ques­tions (and more), we are call­ing for papers on mantras in pre­mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary con­texts, in major South Asian reli­gions as well as glob­al spir­i­tu­al­i­ties, and address­ing texts, prac­tices, mate­r­i­al cul­ture, lived reli­gion, and crit­i­cal the­o­ry. Pro­pos­als may be works-in-progress, ideas for future research projects, sum­ma­tions of pre­vi­ous research, and the­o­ret­i­cal or method­olog­i­cal inter­ven­tions. We encour­age con­tri­bu­tions that span dis­ci­plines, con­sid­er mantras in ver­nac­u­lar lan­guages and pop­u­lar tra­di­tions, address neglect­ed domains of inquiry, exam­ine mantras using dig­i­tal and audio-visu­al resources—and oth­er­wise cul­ti­vate syn­er­gy between schol­ars work­ing on mantra with dif­fer­ent mate­ri­als, approach­es, and fram­ings. This work­shop will offer a forum for explor­ing future col­lab­o­ra­tions on mantras and the prospects for secur­ing fund­ing for a mul­ti-year, inter­na­tion­al research project on mantras.

Sub­mis­sion guidelines

Please sub­mit pro­pos­als via email to Finn­ian Gere­ty ( and Borayin Lar­ios ( The sub­mis­sion dead­line is Novem­ber 30, 2021 with respons­es sent out by Jan­u­ary 15, 2022. Paper pre­sen­ta­tions (prefer­ably in Eng­lish) will be 20 min­utes, with 10 addi­tion­al min­utes for dis­cus­sion and questions.

Each paper pro­pos­al should include: name, affil­i­a­tion of the author; paper abstract in Eng­lish (not longer than 1,400 char­ac­ters with spaces or 250 words; a short bib­li­og­ra­phy (option­al, not includ­ed in the word lim­it). We’re plan­ning for an in-per­son work­shop in Vien­na. How­ev­er, we are open to vir­tu­al par­tic­i­pa­tion for those not able to attend in per­son. When you sub­mit your abstract, please indi­cate whether you plan to par­tic­i­pate vir­tu­al­ly or in-person.