Archive | March 2012

I’ll DEFINTELY be there…

NSRN Online

The call for papers for the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network conference is here! The conference is being held at Goldsmiths University, from 4-6 July 2012

Registration details can be found here

Nonreligion and the Secular: New Horizons for Multidisciplinary Research

               

Conveners: Lois Lee (ll317@cam.ac.uk), Stacey Gutkowski (stacey.gutkowski@kcl.ac.uk), and Stephen Bullivant (stephen.bullivant@smuc.ac.uk)

Conference Coordinator: Katie Aston (k.aston@gold.ac.uk)

Following decades of neglect, the academic study of nonreligion has grown rapidly in the past five years. The primary aim of this conference is to bring together scholars across a range of academic disciplines (sociology, anthropology, theology, political science, psychology, history, international relations, area studies) to begin to untangle the confused and individually contested concepts of nonreligion and the secular. Is nonreligion a subcategory of the secular or vice versa? How do the two terms structure one…

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The Appropriate Way to Study Religion in the Academy

Thomas, Terence. 2004. ‘“The Sacred” as a Viable Concept in the Contemporary Study of Religions’. In Religion: Empirical Studies, ed. Steven J. Sutcliffe, 47–66. Surrey: Ashgate.

The academic study of religions should

be conducted under the aegis of a descriptive, non-normative, non-evaluative agenda. This is the kind of academic study of religions that should be conducted in institutions claiming to be objective and non-evaluative in their aims and in receipt of public funds gathered in a secular state which, though maintaining a religious establishment of sorts in the UK, in most other ways has abjured the religious dimension in the pursuit of public life, and where the practice of religion, of various choices, is a voluntary form of behaviour. (59)

The objective, scientific, academic study of religions and of aspects of religions, unless it specifically refers to traditions and events and contexts in which the sacred is an ineradicable factor, calls for the use of ‘the sacred’ only in appropriate contexts and the abandonment of its use as a generic term, both in order to avoid regression to theology, out of which our discipline is held to have emerged and from which it is held to have achieved its independence, and to advance progression to a system based on academic integrity, academic rigour and academic independence. (65-66)

What’s the Difference between “Religion” and the “Sacred”? Quite a lot actually…

Could the difficulties associated with the academic conceptualisation of “religion” be overcome by changing our focus instead to “the sacred”? In this interview, Jay Demerath tells me why we should define religion substantively – that is, in terms of specific attributes like rituals, deities or dogmas – but the sacred in terms of the function it serves in the lives of individuals and cultures. From this perspective, religion can be considered one of a number of potential sources of the sacred.

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

You can also download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes. See http://www.religiousstudiesproject.com for more details.

Jay Demerath is currently the Emile Durkheim Distinguished Professor of Sociology Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he has been a faculty member since 1972, including ten years as Chair. Prior to UMass, he received a 1958 A.B. from Harvard and a 1964 Ph.D from the U. Of California, Berkeley before rising from Instructor to Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and serving as Executive Officer of the American Sociological Association. Among his many publications, he is author or editor of fourteen books, including the award-winning Crossing the Gods: World Religions and Worldly Politics (2001) and the recent Sage Handbook for the Sociology of Religion (2008). The current Chair-elect of the Religion Section of the American Sociological Association, he is also past-President of the Eastern Sociological Society, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and the Association for the Sociology of Religion.

The Changing Nature of Religion

Grace Davie discusses the changing nature of religion, particularly in the UK and Europe following her keynote address to the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion in Milwaukee last October.

In this interview (with me… yes, you heard it, me), Professor Davie discusses the place of religion in modern Europe, paying particular attention to the place of the United Kingdom within the European context. In an effort to combat the caricatures that typify media accounts of religion in the contemporary world, Davie discusses the changing nature of religion, in academia and in the public square, and considers the impact of the arrival of new cultures into Europe, whilst reflecting on secular reactions to these.

Listen to the podcast

 

An Update on My Adventures into the World of Podcasting

It seems that this blog has been pretty neglected for a while now. Given my upcoming lecturing and conferencing commitments, this is unlikely to change for the next month or so. However, I thought I should give everyone an update on what has been going on with The Religious Studies Project, and highlight some of the recent material we have made available.

Firstly, we recorded a video last week to tell folk a bit more about the project. Here it is:

Secondly, we have now released seven podcasts on the following topics (follow the links for more):

Thirdly, we have commissioned a number of essays and published some material which will be of relevance to anyone trying to ‘make it’ in Academia.

I’ll try and get back to the blog soon, I promise. Things have just been taking rather a lot more time than expected…