International Conference in collaboration with the International Union of Academies (UAI)


Fate, Longevity, and Immortality: Europe – Islam – Asia

February 23-25, 2016

Organisation Committee

Danielle Jacquart, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris
Agostino Paravicini Bagliani, Président honoraire de l’UAI, SISMEL
Fabrizio Pregadio, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg
Klaus Herbers, IKGF, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

The aim of this conference is to develop as far as possible a comparative perspective on traditions and practices concerning Fate, Longevity, and Immortality, which together constitute a fundamental subject in the fields of cultural, social, and anthropological studies. This will be done across a vast range of civilizations, regions, and periods that span Asia (China, Tibet, Japan), the Islamic World, and Western Europe (Middle Ages, Renaissance).

In particular, the conference will focus on the following issues: the philosophical and medical background of longevity metaphors; occurrences of extraordinary longevity and limits of life; astrology and prediction of life span; elixirs and immortality; literary and spatial myths of longevity; natural death, its prognostics and predispositions; prediction in contemporary genetics; resurrection or regeneration of the body and immortality; animals and prolongevity.

Scholars coming from various disciplines and research fields – from alchemy to astrology, from history of the body and medicine to hagiography – shall enter an academic dialogue on how theories and practices concerning the prolongation of life have been influenced or restricted at different times by the beliefs of antiquity; by Christianity, Buddhism, Daoism, and Islam; and by the respective cultural traditions. How has longevity been predicted, theorized, and calculated within those civilizations and traditions? Which ways towards immortality or avoidance of death have been elaborated? What was the social diffusion of such theories and practices? What are the commonalities and differences regarding these interactions between traditions and humans seeking to extend their life? Is there a general human need to make death predictable and knowable?


Tuesday, February 23, 2016


9:30 - 9:40 Welcome Address
Klaus Herbers (IKGF, Erlangen)

Chair: Michael Lackner, IKGF
9:40 - 10:00 Introduction
Danielle Jacquart, Agostino Paravicini Bagliani, Fabrizio Pregadio
10:00 - 10:30 Est-il possible et légitime pour un médecin médiéval de prévoir la longévité d’un patient ?
Danielle Jacquart (EPHE, Paris)
10:30 - 10:45 Discussion
10:45 - 11:15 Coffee Break
11:15 - 11:45 Prolongevity and Elites of Power in Medieval Europe 
Agostino Paravicini Bagliani (University of Lausanne, SISMEL)
11:45 - 12:15 Longévité et immortalités animales dans les bestiaires médiévaux
Michel Pastoureau, EPHE (Paris)
12:15 - 12:45 Discussion
12:45 - 14:00 Lunch


Chair: Klaus Herbers, IKGF
14:00 - 14:30 Time and Mortality in the Koran
Georges Tamer (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)
14:30 - 15:00 The Demises of the Ardent Lovers
Basma Dajani (University of Jordan, Amman)
15:00 - 15:30 Coffee Break
15:30 - 16:00 Discussion

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Chair: Lisa Walleit, IKGF
9:30 - 10:00 The Postponement of Death and the Alleviation of Old Age in the Middle Ages
Charles Burnett (Warburg Institute, London)
10:00 - 10:30 Calculating the Length of Life with Latin Astrologers (12th-17th Century)
David Juste (Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Munich)
10:30 - 11:00 Discussion
11:00 - 11:30 Coffee Break
11:30 - 12:00 Theorizing and Predicting Longevity around 1300
Joseph Ziegler(University of Haifa)
12:00 - 12:15 Discussion
12:15 - 14:00 Lunch


Chair : Zhao Lu, IKGF
14:00 - 14:30 Faith or Fate? The Path towards Immortality according to the Tantric Traditions of Tibet
Donatella Rossi (Sapienza University of Rome)
14:30 - 15:00 “You Will Die Soon!” – Predictions of Death in Tibetan Divination Manuals
Rolf Scheuermann (IKGF, Erlangen)
15:00 - 15:30 Discussion
15:30 - 16:00 Coffee Break
16:00 - 16:30 Modes of Avoiding Death in the Taiping jing
Barbara Hendrischke (University of Sydney)
16:30 - 17:00 Fate and Astrology: Longevity in (Medieval) Daoist and Buddhist Traditions
Christine Mollier (CNRS, Paris)
17:00 - 17:30 Discussion

Thursday, February 25, 2016


Chair: Hans-Christian Lehner, IKGF
9:00 - 9:30 La quintessence dans les œuvres authentiques et apocryphes de Paracelse
Didier Kahn (CNRS, Paris)
9:30 - 10:00 La “mort de vieillesse”: une cause de décès incontournable? (XVIIe siècle - XXIe siècle)
Joël Coste (EPHE, Paris)
10:00 - 10:30 Discussion
10:30 - 11:00 Coffee Break
11:00 - 11:30 The Centaur’s Death: The Myth of Chiron and the Transfer of Immortality
Manuel Förg (Technical University of Munich)
11:30 - 12:00 Longevity and the Emergence of Alchemy in the Latin West
Matthias Heiduk (IKGF, Erlangen)
12:00 - 12:30 Discussion
12:30 - 14:00 Lunch


Chair: Song Xiaokun (IKGF, Erlangen)
14:00 - 14:30 Man and Mountain: Daoist Immortals in Chinese Art
Lennert Gesterkamp (University of Amsterdam)
14:30 - 15:00 Did Immortality Change? Historicising Daoist Hagiography
Benjamin Penny (Australian National University, Canberra)
15:00 - 15:30 Discussion
15:30 - 16:00 Coffee Break
16:00 - 16:30 “The Secret of Divine Immortals”: On Generating and Consuming Longevity Mushrooms
Dominic Steavu (University of California, Santa Barbara)
16:30 - 17:00 Which is the Daoist Immortal Body?
Fabrizio Pregadio (IKGF and University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)
17:00 - 17:30 Discussion
17:30 - 18:00 Final Round Table
Chairs: Moneef R. Zou’bi (Académie des Sciences Islamiques, Amman), Danielle Jacquart, Agostino Paravicini Bagliani, Fabrizio Pregadio



International Consortium for Research in the Humanities

"Fate, Freedom and Prognostication. Strategies for Coping with the Future in East Asia and Europe."

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Hartmannstr. 14
91052 Erlangen
Telefon: +49 (0)9131 85 - 64340
Fax: +49 (0)9131 85 - 64360