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Crafting the Demon: An Exploration of Othering and Demon-making Within the Region of Occitania

This project works to explore the processes of othering, dehumanization, and persecution that have been salient throughout the way that we have confronted language and religion during this seminar. Both religion and language have seemingly existed in states of flux both within and outside the region of Occitania. In his major work of Romanesque influence, the Master of Cabestany depicts the death of St. Sernin as he becomes an image of martyrdom for Catholicism because he refuses to make a  sacrifice to the pagan gods. In this moment, he becomes a part of a group that neither belongs nor seems to have a place in his society. This is a similar narrative to the way that the Cathars were treated due to their religious beliefs during the Albigensian Crusade in which the Catholic church “convened to stamp out the smoldering ashes of Catharism” ( Smith 27). This project makes a commentary on the cyclical nature of othering, dehumanizing, and demonizing minority people and religions that are not in power. In one way or another, Catholics, Christians, Cathars, Muslims, and Jews all have experienced some sort of persecution and othering due to their system of beliefs within the geographic and cultural region upon which this seminar focuses. 


The drawings and sculptures become an exploration of form beginning with a psuedo-human shape that morphs into  and becomes an abstraction of a face of a demon or nonhuman form that we see in so many religious sculptures. In these we begin to think about what it means to belong or to be removed from what the idea of what is accepted. This art is paired with poems that address the cyclical nature of othering and dehumanization. 


In many ways this project uses the idea of demons and the process of demon-making to draw  parallels between language and religion. In our studies, religion and language are intrinsically tied to one another and become excluded as the other is vilified. The banishing of Jews or the inquisition of Cathars can be compared to the banning of Occitan. This project works to explore these links.

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