Jon P. Mitchell: "MIMETIC ANIMATION: Reflections on Life, Death and the Crucifixion"

The Departmental Seminar Series features Jon P. Mitchell, Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex.

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This seminar will be a hybrid seminar where you can participate in person or via Zoom. Join Zoom Meeting.


This paper derives from an emergent collaboration with historians and art historians at the University of Bergen and elsewhere, looking at Living Images within medieval and modern Christianity. It focuses on three examples of 'animated crucifixes' - a statue crucifix in contemporary Malta, that is known to have miraculous powers; a group of late medieval and early modern crucifixes that have articulated limbs, and hydraulic mechanisms that make them bleed; and Filipino human crucifixes, in which human penitents are nailed to the cross.

The paper examines these animations through the lens of a performative and generative mimesis - a process that constitutes the crucifix as living, and animated, even as it performs Christ's death. It then returns to older anthropological arguments about animism and the relationships between life and death, nature and culture; the nature of religion, and Christianity.

Published Aug. 12, 2021 10:25 PM - Last modified Sep. 3, 2021 1:04 PM