The Institute for Signifying Scriptures excavates scriptures as sites of performance, power relations, and dis/closure by
- facilitating transgressive research;
- fostering cross-cultural conversation;
- framing ex-centrics and subalterns as analytical windows and mirrors, with the ultimate aim of helping to build a just and civil society of free-thinking, free-speaking agents.
We invite partners in collaboration for the sake of excavating traditionally-sublimated, oftentimes-painful and always power-ful aspects of the cycles of formation, de-formation and re-formation of the social self—not merely in support of, but in creative, honest and critical conversation with, persistently subaltern selves, most especially regarding things made to be or deemed “sacred.” We invite researchers from all fields and disciplines to collaborate with us in taking up the phenomenon of "scriptures" as analytical wedge for the study of societies and cultures.
What is urgently needed in and across many different domains—the academy; the arts; religious communities; non-government agencies; politics and statecraft—is a turn toward a different critical orientation. What we must together work on is the development of an anthropology, psychology, sociology, aesthetics, performative-expressive and material culture criticism and critical politics of “scriptures.” The ISS supports the advancement of this critical orientation, radically different in its practices and agenda.
Insofar as “scriptures” for good and ill have to do with the dynamics of the making and re-making of worlds, with inspired and troubling performances and practices, rhetorical and social orientations, with the quest for and uses of power, they are too important to be left within any one discursive-political domain. So all are invited to join in fathoming how we differently signify—on our world and each other—through the invention and uses of scriptures. Such fathoming makes it imperative that we learn to signify on ourselves.