Bodies of Communication


‘Bodies of Communication’ is a research unit fostering conversations on the body as a location of religious expression. As the study of religion moves away from religious doctrines and institutions towards an increasing interest in the lived experience of religion, the human body takes up a more central place. In biblical and related literature, the body is inevitably involved in the discussion of a range of issues; for some the connection is obvious, such as food and sexuality, birth and death, whilst for others the body forms either the background or the method of communication. 

While bodies are often policed in religious settings, this can also occur within a textual environment; bodies also offer a site for resistance and deviance, a means of opposing traditional norms. The abstract body, the idealized body and the concrete body, that exists and lives in time and space, can all be understood to express religious narratives and structures. 

This unit aims to increase understanding of the body as a significant site in the period of ancient Judaism and early Christianity, as well as in a variety of interpretations and resonances. It especially encourages engagement with issues that are relevant for contemporary culture and society.


Body, Representation, Boundaries, Order, Challenge


Dominika Kurek-Chomycz

Liverpool Hope University

Emma Swai
Liverpool Hope University

Sarah Whitear
Catholic University of Leuven (KUL)

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Toulouse 2022 Call for Papers

In Toulouse, for the EABS Conference 2022, the “Bodies of Communication” research unit will focus on Bodies and Boundaries. Within Mary Douglas’s seminal reading of Leviticus, the body is viewed as a microcosm which is analogous to other microcosms, such as the tabernacle and Mount Sinai. In relation to the human body, things which ‘breach’ bodily boundaries, such as childbirth or genital emissions, cause ritual impurities and represent a threat to religious or social boundaries, thereby requiring ritual purification. 

This session invites papers in which relationships between bodies and boundaries are explored, specifically in relation to: 

- The crossing of bodily boundaries and how this relates to the cultic sphere. 

- Bodies within Jewish or early Christian identity boundaries. 

We would particularly welcome papers considering textual representations of the body which challenge corporeal orthopraxy, given that narratives portray ‘a world mediated through the social categories, relations and institutions operating in a specific culture’ (Perkins, 1995). How can bodies within biblical and extra-biblical texts provoke questions as to religious and social expectations? What happens regarding bodies considered to cross boundaries, in terms of how they are portrayed? Can corporeal representation be used as a means to implement boundaries? 

We are also planning to host a joint panel with the Emotions and the Biblical World research group, focusing on emotions and the body (see the Emotions and the Biblical World 2022 Call for Papers for more details). 


For all our sessions, we welcome papers related to the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Jewish/Rabbinic Literature, Early Christianity