Cambridge Centre for the study of Western Esotericism

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TRANSFORMATIONS OF THE SACRED IN EUROPE AND BEYOND: Conference


ESA Research Network 34 – Sociology of Religion

Call for papers – Mid-term Conference

University of Potsdam, Germany

3-5 September 2012

 

The thesis of secularization, once sheer uncontested in the social sciences, is increasingly under fire. Secularization is nowadays often deconstructed as an ideology or mere wish dream that is intimately connected to the rationalist ambitions of modern Enlightenment. Such alleged blurring of morality and science, of what ‘is’ and what ‘ought’, informing sociological analysis obviously obscures clear sight on recent developments in the Western world. 

Countless empirical and theoretical studies convincingly demonstrate that religion is alive and well in Europe and beyond. Particularly after the attacks of 9/11 in 2001, religious identities have become salient in a situation of cultural polarization and religious pluralization. Moreover, we are witnessing a trend towards ‘believing without belonging’ (Davie, 1994) and – particularly in those European countries that are most secular – a shift from organized religion to ‘spiritualities of life’ (e.g., Heelas and Woodhead, 2005), paganism and ‘popular religion’ (Knoblauch, 2009). And although the thesis of secularization has always been highly problematic from a non-European or global perspective, the rapid globalization of Islam and the Evangelical upsurge – especially in Africa, Latin America and East Asia – fly in the face of the long-held expectation that religion is doomed to be a marginal or socially insignificant phenomenon.

Evidently, then, the focus of sociological analysis has shifted over the last decades from religious decline to religious change. More than that: it is theorized that we are living in a “post-secular society” (Habermas, 2005) where religion is re-vitalized, de-privatized and increasingly influences politics, voting behavior, matters of the state and ethical debates in the public domain (e.g., Casanova, 1994). Motivated by such observations, the mid-term conference calls for papers addressing changes in the field of religion and, more in particular, transformations of the sacred in Europe and beyond. Particularly we welcome studies covering the following topics:

&#61623 Studies on how and why conceptions of the sacred, religious beliefs, doctrines, rituals and organizations of long-standing religious traditions – such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism or Hinduism – transform under the influence of processes of globalization, individualization, mediatization as well as changing gender relations.

&#61623 Studies dealing with trends of believing without belonging, i.e. non-institutionalized beliefs, personal ‘bricolage’ and privatized conceptions of the sacred outside the Churches, Chapels and Mosques. Encouraged are also studies addressing new, more informal ways of ‘belonging’, religious communication and collective effervescence, i.e. in loose social networks, discussion groups or virtual communities on the internet.

&#61623 Studies covering popular religion and post-traditional spirituality, i.e., New Age, esotericism, paganism, occultism, discussing for instance an epistemological turn from belief to experience and emotion; a shifting emphasis from transcendence to immanence; from seriousness to playfulness; or a transition from dualism to monism.

&#61623 Studies dealing with implicit religion, i.e. addressing a re-location of the sacred to seemingly secular domains in society such as self-identity, sports, modern science and technology. This avenue of research may also include the place and meaning of the sacred (i.e., religious narratives, symbols and images) in popular media texts – in novels, films, series on television or computer games.

These topics are rough guidelines; papers dealing with religious change and the transformation of the sacred in Europe and beyond other than these outlined above are also very welcome. Furthermore we invite PhD and post-doc candidates to contribute to a poster session, including work in progress; the best poster will get a – small, but nice – prize.

Dates & Deadlines in 2012

March 15 Submission of abstracts and online registration starts

April 20 Submission of abstracts ends

May 10 Acceptance of abstracts

June 30 Early-bird registration ends

September 3 – 5 Conference

For further information, please visit: http://www.esareligion.org

Contact: esa-religion@uni-potsdam.de

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3rd ANNUAL CONFERENCE: ALTERNATIVE EXPRESSIONS OF THE NUMINOUS

The Esoteric Studies Research and Teaching Group
in conjunction with the
School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics
at the
University of Queensland

presents the 3rd Annual Alternative Expressions of the Numinous Conference

Date: Friday 15 – Sunday 17 August 2008
Venue: School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, University of Queensland,
St Lucia Campus, Brisbane, Australia

Conference Chairs:
Dr Helen Farley
Julie Washington, and
Håkan Sandgren

Conference Website:
http://www.uq.edu.au/hprc/index.html?page=64294&pid=0

Keynote Speakers
Doug Ezzy – ‘Religion as the Etiquette of Relationships’

Douglas Ezzy’s research is driven by a fascination with how people make meaningful and dignified lives. His most recent research is an international study of teenage Witchcraft with Helen Berger (West Chester University). It examines the interconnections of teenage spirituality, the mass media, and nature religion. He is particularly interested to supervise sociology postgraduates studying contemporary spirituality. He has published six books: Teenage Witches (with Helen Berger), Researching Paganisms (with Graham Harvey and Jenny Blain), Qualitative Research Methods (with Pranee Rice), Qualitative Analysis, Narrating Unemployment and Practising the Witch’s Craft, along with numerous articles.

Nevill Drury – ‘Black Magic, White Magic and the Cosmology of Rosaleen Norton’

Nevill Drury has recently submitted his PhD dissertation on ‘Rosaleen Norton’s Contribution to the Western Esoteric Tradition’ to the University of Newcastle. His most recent publications include The New Age: the History of a Movement (Thames & Hudson, London and New York 2004), Magic and Witchcraft: from Shamanism to the Technopagans (Thames & Hudson, London and New York 2003) and The History of Magic in the Modern Age (Constable, London 2000). He also co-authored Fire and Shadow: Spirituality in Contemporary Australian Art (HarperCollins, Melbourne 1999).

Call for Papers:
Abstracts (250 words) are invited for, but not limited to, the following strands:

Esotericism
Mysticism
Alternative expressions of major religions
Religions of re-enchantment
Popular culture religions
Indigenous religions
Paganism and Neo-Paganism
New Religious Movements
Personalised religion
Alternative methodologies

Papers are also invited for a session to run in Second Life, to be run in parallel with the real life sessions.

Deadlines
Abstracts: Monday 30 June 2008

For more information contact:
Helen Farley
Conference Co-Chair
School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics
St Lucia Q 4072
Australia
Ph: + 617 3365 6324 (Outside Australia)
07 3365 6324
Fax: +617 3365 1968 (Outside Australia)
07 3365 1968

Email: h.farley@uq.edu.au

Dr Helen Farley
Lecturer
Room E330 Forgan Smith Building
School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics
University of Queensland Q 4072
Australia

Ph: 617 3365 6324
Mob: 617 401 878 880
Email: h.farley@uq.edu.au

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