SFB 1369 Cultures of vigilance

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Vigilance and Abstention. Conflicts Surrounding Fasting in Early Modern Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

teilbereich_198x149px_c05Project C06

Principal Investigator

Prof. Dr. Julia Herzberg


Dr. Iryna Klymenko

Project Description

The project will examine fasting and the voluntary abstention from food as both a practice and an object of political, medical and religious disputes.

Whilst the project is divided up into two research groups, one dealing with Russia and one with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the main areas of focus are based on, firstly, individual decisions to take up, to maintain or to discard certain practices of eating. Abstaining from eating thus necessitates the (self-)observation of individuals or groups, who decide to take on specific forms of vigilance with regards to food and eating and, in accordance with this decision, choose a kind of self-actualisation. Secondly, the assumption that these decisions are the result of social and cultural constellations, created by the heterogenous and conflict-rich interweaving of various normalisation efforts implemented by policy makers, medical practicioners and the different religious organisations.

Which techniques were used by secular and religious authorities, medical experts and individual players to activate alertness to certain diets, and how they served attempts at higher goals such as salvation, health or the formation of religious, ethnic or imperial identities, will be examined.

One of the main aims is to anchor the dietary and/or abstention practices as constitutive elements in political and social negotiations in research. The subproject deals with multireligious and multiethnic areas, which is why questions pertaining to the identity-producing function of abstention, that is to say relating to segregation, inclusion and interweaving, as well as the permeability of regulatory boundaries, are a primary focus.