The limits of what can be said and done – taboos in the Middle East

Bonn, Haus Venusberg | 28.10.2024 - 31.10.2024
Manager:Nils Fischer
Spiritual companion:P. Prof. Dr. Thomas Eggensperger OP

Written and unwritten rules organise our social life and our personal experiences. In our encounters with others, we experience them as the basis for living and working together and also as boundaries. They determine what can/can't be said and what can/can't be done in a society. They are often referred to as taboos, especially when a violation of these rules is associated with moral outrage. They are usually subject to a general ban on speech and often also personal reservations about discussing them. Various historical developments, social functions and diverse manifestations of taboos are the subject of academic research. In art, they are sometimes depicted openly and more often veiled.

The regional seminar deals with taboos in the Middle East. It takes a broad view of the topic and aims to explore perspectives on so-called 'no-gos' from a theological, personal and practical perspective. The no-gos collected in the seminar in group work and with the speakers will be addressed, considered, categorised and discussed. The focus will be on the Middle East region; changes and developments relating to taboos will be traced.

As taboos are individual and yet, in many aspects supra-personal, socially mediated and appropriated, the topic will be deliberately approached from a broad perspective. That allows for taking stock of the situation, which will then be worked on, and reflected upon together in individual projects. In the first part, Prof. Dr Christoph Antweiler (ethnologist and professor of Southeast Asian Studies, University of Bonn) will contribute an anthropological introduction and classification of the topic. In the second part, an artist will work with the participants on personal approaches using a concrete project.

The seminar invites participants to personally experience, discuss and reflect on their dos and don'ts and taboos. A special feature of this interactive seminar is the explorative city tour and the exchange with people from the Bonn neighbourhood.