Body and death


22/02/2019 - 22/02/2019

Body and death :: © Sherin Khankan, Lies Willaert, Alana Harris Body and death :: © Sherin Khankan, Lies Willaert, Alana Harris

In religion, the body is sanctified through ritual: purification, food rites and fasting - even through sacrifice and martyrdom. The fluids that it secretes, especially blood, are the object of various practices. The body is also the vehicle of the pilgrim’s spirituality. Ageing, suffering, dying, the body becomes the theatre of mourning: funeral customs blend religion and tradition. Religion thus invests the body, in life as in death. Are there limits to what people are willing to subject their body to — living, sick or dying — in the name of religion?


After obtaining her Master’s degree in Religious Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Copenhagen, Sherin Khankan went on to graduate in Islamic Studies at the University of Damas. As an imam, she opened a mosque for women, an important step in the development of a modern and progressive Islam. In 2001, she founded the Forum of Critical Muslims, where she calls for a new interpretation of the Koran, aligned with our current societal values.


Caroline Pauwels is the current rector of the University of Brussels, where she also functions as professor and head of department of Communicational Sciences. Next to her position as government commissioner at VRT, she has been head of SMIT (Studies in Media, Innovation and Technology) ever since 2000.


Australian-born Dr Alana Harris teaches Modern British History at King's College London. She has published extensively at the intersections of the history of gender and sexuality, urban studies and religion and is intrigued by people's lived and embodied religious experiences - through sacred rituals, pilgrimage, relics, music and material objects.

Flagey, Le Soir, RTBF, ULB, VUB

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