William Robertson Smith

TCS Conference | William Robertson Smith | May 13th 2022

The Traditional Cosmology Society, in partnership with the School of Celtic and Scottish Studies, has organised a one-day conference to celebrate the legacy of Scottish orientalist and biblical scholar William Robertson Smith (1846-1894).

William Robertson Smith’s influence on anthropology ranged from his relationship with John Ferguson McLennan, to advising James George Frazer to write about “Totem” and “Taboo” for the Encyclopaedia Britannica that he edited.

Through his discussion of myth and ritual, Smith shaped the agenda for generations of scholars. His focus on connections among the people, their God, and the land they inhabited inspired many of the concepts later developed by Émile Durkheim.

Image of William Robertson Smith taken from ‘The Bailie,’ Vol. XII, No. 293, 29th May 1878. Cambridge University Library MS Add.7476/L22

The event will take place on May 13th 2022 in Edinburgh, at 50 George Square. Attendees are invited to Project Room 1.06 from 12pm to 4pm. Places can be reserved from the event page on Eventbrite, while tickets can purchased at the door for the price of £10 (concessions available for students and TCS members). Please note that the event manager will not be able to accept card payments.

During the course of the day, three scholars will address different aspects of Robertson Smith’s legacy. The panellists and their presentations are:

Professor Aleksander Bošković (University of Belgrade), ‘One of “Anthropology’s Ancestors’

Professor Bernhard Maier (University of Tübingen), ‘W. R. Smith and the Scottish Psalter’

Professor Robert Segal (University of Aberdeen), ‘Ancient Religion versus Modern Religion’

UPDATE
Unfortunately, Professor Segal had to withdraw from the programme. Professor Milne will read his planned intervention on his behalf. In addition, Salma Siddique (University of St Andrews) will deliver additional remarks. A draft of the full programme is available here.

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