Art and Religion in the Making of a Global Baroque Culture


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Presentation at the U. of Liverpool (May 2010)

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  • La segundacita de Wright es de las pp. 205-206.
  • La Historia de Potosí de Arzánsy Vela
  • Producción total o de los autoresseleccionados?
  • System: which rules?
  • What Kind of Religion?
  • The Power of Images, by David Freedberg.
  • Art and Religion in the Making of a Global Baroque Culture

    1. 1. Art and Religion in the Making of a Global Baroque Culture<br />Juan Luis Suárez<br />The University of Western Ontario<br />
    2. 2. The Two Hemispheres<br />The Clash of the Two Hemispheres<br />European expansion into America has been described as the most important phenomenon in recent human time (Jared Diamond 1997) because of the ecological, economic, and political consequences that had on peoples and cultures from both sides of the Atlantic.<br />A Global Trade Network<br />1571 and the foundation of Manila (Flynn and Giráldez 1995)<br />Empire and Religion<br />
    3. 3. The Evolution of God<br />A connection between the formation of multinational empires that have to accommodate different ethnicities and religions whose survival depend on the perception of being played a non-zero-sum, and the capacity of the Abrahamic god to grow beyond the initial political community that worshiped that god. (Wright 2009) <br />In order for this growth to be successful and the empire to keep together the diversity of cultures and religions, the expansionist religion has to reinvent its capacity for moral imagination by including those other peoples within their own political unit (Wright 2009).<br />
    4. 4. Prosociality and Religion<br />Henrich et al. (2010) have proven that the existence of norms that sustain fairness in exchanges among strangers are connected with the diffusion of institutions such as market integration and the participation in world religions. <br />Their research confirms the hypothesis that modern world religion may have contributed to the sustainability of large-scale societies and large scale interactions. <br />It is the spread of norms and institutions that make possible the development and sustainability of global communities:<br />“the rate-determining step in societal evolution may have involved the assembly of the norms and institutions that are capable of harnessing and extending our evolved social psychology to accommodate life in large, intensely cooperative community.” (Henrich et al. 2010) <br />
    5. 5. Prosociality and the Expansion into America<br />Religious prosociality is “the idea that religions facilitate acts that benefit others at a personal cost…” (Norenzayan and Shariff 2008)<br />The expansion into America can also be considered in light of<br />the growth of the Abrahamic God (Wright 2009),<br />the reinforcement of religious prosociality (Norenzayan and Shariff 2008), <br />the role played by a religion such as Catholicism, with a moralizing god (Roes and Raymond 2003), in the maintenance of a political community of almost planetary dimensions as well as as a facilitator of social cohesiveness and ingroupsolidarity. (Shariff and Norenzayan 2007) <br />
    6. 6. Prosociality and the Case of Potosí<br />A cycle of chaos and order. (Vásquez 2010, in preparation)<br />Natural disasters, rituals, and miracles<br />Bringing people together<br />In-group cooperation and the economy of silver<br />The testimonies collected in texts like the History of Potosi hint at the decisive role that religious behaviors and rituals play in two important cases of intragroup violence. (VásquezySuárez 2010, in preparation)<br />Although costly to cooperating members of the group, religious rituals are used as ways to reinforce cooperative norms, to find out about the intentions of individuals and subgroups in relation to the activities of the group, and, ultimately, to facilitate the existence of larger groups through the activation of norms that do not depend on kinship or reciprocity-based altruism. (Norenzayan and Shariff 2008) <br />
    7. 7. Miracles and Rituals in the “Historia de Potosí” by Arzáns<br />7<br />
    8. 8. Carriers of Information: The Jesuits in Moxos (Bolivia)<br />The case of Fray Diego de Ocaña<br />A Trip Through South America<br />Historical research in Moxos by Javier Matienzo<br />Network Research by Montiel, SanchoySuárez<br />The Jesuits of Moxos in a Global Context <br />
    9. 9. Social Network: Jesuits through San Ignacio de Moxos<br />9<br />
    10. 10. Art as Institution<br />Art is another institution that contributes to the arising and sustainability of large-scale societies.<br />We use the case of the formation of an artistic network of paintings, schools, and artists whose development goes along with the expansion and colonization of the Hispanic Monarchy across America to show that this artistic network has a presence in all political territories encompassing most ethnicities and religions of indigenous origin.<br />Over 13000 paintings <br />This is especially important in our artistic network as in most cases the paintings have been painted for its public displayed for worship and/or are an essential part of rituals such as processions, celebrations, and festivals. <br />
    11. 11. A Network of Religious Paintings<br />Since the absolute majority of the paintings of this network have a religious theme, this confluence of a geographically extended artistic network, the Christian content of the objects and the public display of these paintings would provide an important example of a social mechanism for the internalization of social and religious behaviors across a large society.<br />The essential role that images and paintings play in public rituals and celebrations in which large numbers of people from different ethnic groups (indigenous peoples, Spaniards, criollos, blacks) participate, would “confirm” the results of previous modeling work showing the effectiveness of the diffusion of norms and institutions among societies through different means. (R. Boyd and P.J. Richerson, 2002; J. Ensminger, J. Knight, 1997)<br />The extended presence of public celebrations in the formation of a baroque culture at both sides of the Atlantic (Suárez 2007) could be explained in terms of recombinations of group beneficial norms arising in different populations. (Boyd and Richerson 2002)<br />
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    16. 16. The Power of Images<br />In a large world in which the several communities under the rule of the Hispanic Habsburgs spread over two continents and thousands of kilometers, religious painting provides a common vocabulary of symbols and themes to which any subject can at least partially relate. <br />Rappaport explained the communicative abilities of secular and religious rituals according (Sosis and Bressler 2003).<br />But the semantic content in religious rituals is not exhausted as is it in the case of social information transmitted in secular ones. Also important in this theory is the idea that believers verify religious statements emotionally (Sosis and Bressler 2003).<br />Painting, images and religious rituals would form the bases for the spread of baroque culture, confirming the following theories:<br />The costly signaling theory of rituals (Sosis and Alcorta 2003).<br />The relations among morality, intragroup cooperation and the fact of being-watched (Bateson et al. 2006).<br />The socialization of misfortune as in the case of Potosí, and the role played by supernatural agents in these events (Boyer 2001).<br />
    17. 17. Conclusions<br />A Moralizing God<br />The Power of Images and Rituals<br />The Evolution of God<br />The Autonomy of Art<br />Global Networks of Culture: Does God Live Within?<br />
    18. 18. Bibliography<br />Bateson, Melissa, Daniel Nettle and Gilbert Roberts: “Cues of being watched enhance cooperation in a real-world setting.” Biology Letters (2006) 2, 412-414.<br />Boyd, Robert and Peter J. Richerson: “Group Beneficial Norms Can Spread Rapidly in a Structured Population.” J. Theor. Biol. (2002) 215, 287-296. <br />Boyer, Pascal: Religion Explained. The human instincts that fashion gods, spirits and ancestors. London: William Heinnemann, 2001.<br />Diamond, Jared: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New York: W. W. Norton, 1997.<br />Ensminger, Jean and Jack Knight: “Changing Social Norms. Common Property, Bridewealth, and Clan Exogamy.” Current Anthropology 38:1 (1997): 1-24.<br />Flynn, Dennis O. and Arturo Giráldez: “Born with a ‘Silver Spoon’: The Origin of World Trade in 1571.” Journal of World History 6:2 (1995): 201-221.<br />Henrich, Joseph et al.: “Markets, Religion, Community Size, and the Evolution of Fairness and Punishment.” Science 327 (2010): 1480-1484. 19 March 2010. <br />Norenzayan, Ara and Azim F. Shariff: “The Origin and Evolution of Religious Prosociality.” Science 322 (2008): 58-62. 3 October 2008.<br />Roes, Frans L. and and Michel Raymond: “Belief in moralizing gods.” Evolution and Human Behavior 24 (2003): 126-135.<br />Shariff, Azim F. and AraNorenzayan: “God is Watching You. Priming God Concepts Increases Prosocial Behavior in an Anonymous Economic Game.” Psychological Science 18:9 (2007): 803-809.<br />Sosis Richard and Eric R. Bressler: “Cooperation and Commune Longevity: A Test of the Costly Signaling Theory of Religion.” Cross-Cultural Research 37:2 (2003): 211-239.<br />Sosis, Richard and Candace Alcorta: “Signaling, Solidarity, and the Sacred: The Evolution of Religious Behavior.” Evolutionary Anthropology 12 (2003): 264-274.<br />Suárez, Juan-Luis: “Hispanic Baroque: A Model for the Study of Cultural Complexity in the Atlantic World.” South Atlantic Review 72:1 (2007): 31-47.<br />Wright, Robert: The Evolution of God. New York: Little & Brown, 2009.<br />
    19. 19. Thank You!<br />Special Thanks to Javier Matanzo, PiotrNawrot, Fernando Sancho, ShiddartaVásquez, María de los ÁngelesFernández-Valle and C. UraniMontiel.<br />With the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.<br />Contact:<br /><br /><br /><br />