MemberNeema GHENIM

…ssor: June 2019

.Accreditation (habilitation): June 2014

Ph.D. in comparative Literature (2013). The thesis is on Sufism in West Algeria and Transcendentalism in Concord in the East of the United States (19th century) Title: Transcend…

Ghenim Neema is a professor of English Literature at the University Mohamed Ben Ahmed, Oran 2, Algeria. She earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature on Sufism in Algeria as well as Transcendentalism in the United States. Her field of interest is comparative literature with a focus on postcolonial Africa and the question of democracy as well as the challenge between remembering and forgetfulness. She is also interested in literary theories dealing with questions of gender and identity in literary discourse. As a teacher, she tries to make connections between literature and history. She engages and inspires her students to cultivate their curiosity.

MemberMatthew R. Hotham

Dr. Matthew R. Hotham [Hoe-Thumb] teaches Islam (RELS 275), The Qur‘an (RELS 208), introductory Religious Studies and Core Curriculum classes, as well as advanced seminars on Animals and Religion, Religion, Colonialism and Modernity, and Islamic Mysticism at Ball State University. His research and teaching focus on embodied, affective, and material approaches to the study of religion. His classes incorporate role-playing, case studies, music, scents, religious objects, and visits to the David Owsley Art Museum to encourage students to think about religions as lived and living traditions that invite a diversity of embodied human engagements and responses. His research has two theoretically related but historically distant prongs. First, his in-progress book manuscript, Introductory Matters: Maligned Manuscripts, Ascended Bodies, and Contested Definitions of Sufism, highlights the complexity and diversity of the Islamic tradition through the study of an important but under-researched medieval Persian text, Nizami Ganjavi’s Treasury of Mysteries. The second prong of his research examines Euro-American constructions of the Muslim as an “other” to be feared, focusing on how a diverse array of contemporary literatures, from television shows to internet memes, use animals and animal imagery to construct the Muslim body as different and dangerous. In both projects, his work focuses on the body and bodily comportment, examining how what a person eats, drinks, smells, sees, and touches is used to mark the boundaries of religious identity. Hotham’s research and teaching have taken him around the world, including summers in India, Iran, Malaysia, Morocco, Syria, and Turkey. He is the advisor to Religion Conversation Hour, a student-run organization that meets weekly to explore themes central to the study of religion and topics from a variety of religious traditions. He is also chair of the Midwest Region American Academy of Religion section on Literature and Sacred Texts in the Study of Religion.

MemberAndrea Pagnes

Andrea Pagnes and Verena Stenke have been working together since 2006 as VestAndPage and gained internationally recognition in the fields of performance art, film, writing, publishing and with international community cultural projects. They have been creating live performances, performance visuals, performance-based films and poetic writings since over a decade, exploring performance art as phenomena through their collaborative creative practice, as well as through theoretical artistic research and curatorial projects. Their works have been presented in museums, galleries, theatres and a variety of sites worldwide. Their writings have been extensively published and translated for international readers.VestAndPage’s art practice is contextual and situation-responsive, conceived psycho-geographically in response to natural surroundings, social contexts, historical sites and architectures. They inquire performance art not just as a medium to express their concerns and ideals, but as an urgency to explore the physical, mental and spiritual bodies, and to interface with the ephemeral matters of art and existence. In a poetics of relations they examine notions of temporalities, memory strata, communication and fragility of the individual and the collective within social and environmental spheres, applying the themes of trust in change, endurance, union, pain sublimation and risk-taking with a poetic bodily approach to art practice and a focus on universal human experiences. Their artistic collaboration has roots in contemporary visual and conceptual art, classical, oriental and social theatre, philosophy, anthropology, anthropoetics and political science, as well as in the study of rites, myths and religions, particularly Islamic Sufism, Mediaeval alchemy as well as the ancient Greek and Christian iconology to analyse the significance of a subject’s matter within the cultures that produce it. Working with material from a personal and genetic library accessed through insightful thinking and spiritual practices, their works are accessible by a wide audience, allowing viewers to address realistic contents through fresh iconography in an otherworldly surrounding. Their durational performances are distinguished by actions and sensorial details that undermine the conventional and put the elements of logic into question. These performances have durations of 24 hours or 5 days and nights consecutively, or can be month-long, as it was for the performance walk in their latest feature-length film Plantain. Their performance cycles and films are developed consecutively and in situ. The process of making unfolds as if in absence of temporality, as if the concept of time itself had collapsed to create a setting in which the present is repeated or the past is recalled. These works face philosophical, social and political issues from multiple perspectives, for example the belief and unbelief. While encompassing a range of subtly different concepts, they primarily express VestAndPage’s Weltanschauung while adding or revealing poetic elements as a rebellion against the exercise of power and discrimination among human beings.