Studying or noting the fact that stories about saints or holy objects traveled from one region or religious community to another, for example how the Jataka tales, the Pantachantra, Balaam and Josephat, or the Prince and the Sage traveled from India through Central Asia or into parts of Africa, the Middle East and finally even to Northern Europe, is fascinating for it includes not only transfer of motifs, but resistance, demarcation, adoption, transformation, even expansion. Alone, however, such explorations tell us little about inter- or intra-religious relations.
In this workshop we propose to focus on hagiographical accounts of encounter with the religious other that traveled from one cultural/geographical area to another, and how these narratives changed as the result of cultural, religious, geographic, or chronological displacement. Specifically stories about saints and the religious other, provide important indications about cultures dealt with religious minorities, and how religious minorities imagined their relationships with the religious communities around them. Such narratives also indicate, perhaps, what forces cause tension and persecution - why are some stories in certain cultures relatively more “friendly” toward the religious other than others, and very condemnatory in other cultures though the story at its core is the same? How and why are certain hagiographies of encounter taken over by more than one religious community and either used as a form of resistance or simply co-opted and claimed by the new group?