COLLECTIF D’ANTHROPOLOGIE ET D’HISTOIRE DU SPIRITUEL SOUS L’ANCIEN RÉGIME
CAHSA promotes interdisciplinary and international dialogue among researchers working on religion in early modern France and its colonies, with a particular interest in the “spiritual.” A term drawn from French scholarship and distinct form “spirituality,” for us the spiritual denotes an experience, whether individual or collective, that exceeds faith’s socialized frameworks. Although nourished by doctrinal, institutional, and theological systems, the spiritual charts to some degree its own course. We trace its history and anthropology through the study of texts and objects that enable us to identify and analyze the religious practices, identities, senses, structures of feeling, and forms of interiority of the Ancien Régime. Part of our work also consists in defining and interrogating the “spiritual” as a theoretical framework and research tool. To what degree does the spiritual unite or separate the individual and the group? The soul and the body? Under what circumstances does it manifest itself? How can we recognize, interpret, and understand the spiritual’s expression in the documents and other forms of cultural heritage that have survived to the present?
In addition to organizing conferences, panels, and other forms of scholarly discourse, one of our primary goals is to establish and study collections of textual, iconographic, and material sources useful for defining and examining the spiritual under the Ancien Régime. We feel strongly that religious phenomena from early modern France and its colonies must be studied in concert to achieve this objective. Methodologically, we draw on a range of disciplines, including history, art history, anthropology, ethnography, literature, performance studies, and other related fields.