Tag Archive | call for papers

Social Identities between the Sacred and the Secular

Please see below for details of a CfP for the book I hope to edit with Abby Day as part of the AHRC/ ESRC Religion and Society Ashgate Book series. Please circulate as you see fit :)


Social Identities between the Sacred and the Secular

Edited by Abby Day and Christopher R. Cotter

 Call for Papers

Many people may not identify strongly or consistently as religious, yet religion still matters for them at certain times and in certain contexts. Rather than dismiss those self-identifications as meaningless, incoherent or insignificant, we may find through in-depth research that they are meaningful, coherent and differently significant (Day 2011).

What is sometimes construed as empty space is filled with something – but what? One typology advanced by Day (2006; 2009; 2011) suggested Christian ‘nominalism’ is an important way to mark social identities she described as Christian ethnic nominalism; natal nominalism and aspirational nominalism.  While her theory about Christian ethnic nominalism has been analysed cross-culturally and operationalized (see, for example, Storm 2009; Voas 2009) it is still limited by its Christian scope. Are there Muslim or Buddhist ‘nominalists’, for example? How can we best describe and understand such people who are neither, or are, perhaps, more fluidly, religious or secular? (Woodhead 2012)

Such explorations require innovative methods that do not force religious answers with religious questions and suggest new interpretations of what it may mean to be ‘non-religious’ (Cotter 2011). This under-explored domain between the secular and the sacred is a contested space that requires further investigation through innovative methods and fresh analytical thinking.

We are therefore delighted that we have been encouraged by the editors and publisher of the new Ashgate AHRC/ESRC Religion & Society series, edited by Prof. Linda Woodhead and Dr Rebecca Catto, to submit a full proposal for an edited collection:  Social Identities between the Sacred and the Secular.

Our first priority has been to confirm the participation of key Religion & Society programme scholars.  We are now extending our Call to the wider academic community. Publication dates will be negotiated but we will aim for chapter submission date by April 2012, assuming 12-14 chapters of 5,000 words each.

 Below you will find a summary of the publication. If you would like to contribute, please let us know as soon as possible and provide a title and 100-word abstract by October 31 2011.

 Email: a.day@sussex.ac.uk and chris.r.cotter@gmail.com


This collection of interdisciplinary chapters will present current empirical scholarship from local, national and international contexts. Work will negotiate and advance knowledge and understanding of the important conceptual and lived spaces between the contested poles of the ‘sacred’ and the ‘secular’.

Researchers finding themselves in this space often did not expect to be here.   Many may have intended to study ‘traditionally’ religious or non-religious individuals, communities, and institutions, but found something else, something that was neither religious nor secular. It is that important work we aim to capture.

Book structure

The collection will be divided into three sections. We are summarising these below with questions intended to stimulate rather than prescribe.

1. The methodological space:

What issues were encountered and innovations made when researching these contested spaces? How are scholars to conceptualise these spaces? What do they do to existing concepts of ‘religion’ and the ‘secular? How can existing methodological approaches be adapted to studying these spaces? Do these spaces open up and demand new approaches? New vocabulary? How have those challenges been met?

2. The public space:

An exploration of these spaces can include, but are not limited to, the spatial, such as the university campus, the community centre, schools, prisons, urban streets, festivals, hospitals, or the football pitch. We are also concerned with the political space, dealing with issues such as legal definitions of what ‘counts’ as a religion, or foreign policy decisions and anti-terror laws. How is the in-between secular/sacred space described, mediated and discursively in media-related spaces? What are the ‘effects’ of our modern, globalised age upon the space between sacred and secular? What institutional manifestations of this in-between space defy easy emic or etic categorisation?  How do people use different spaces in different contexts, perhaps even vicariously? (Davie 2007)

3. The social,  identity-dominated space

How do individuals negotiate their identity when it falls into this in-between space? What are their personal pragmatic strategies? How is this space felt, embodied, sensed, articulated? What do terms and ideas like religious/secular belief, practice, or attitudes mean to people? What is the sacred/secular space that arises through inter-subjective and inter-corporeal real lives?

The Editors

Dr Abby Day is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Kent and a Principal Investigator at the University of Sussex.  Her qualitative longitudinal research has expanded conventional views of belief and belonging through empirical research based initially in the UK and extended through cross-cultural comparisons. Her latest book, Believing in Belonging: Belief and Social Identity in the Modern World (Oxford University Press) is published in October 2011 by Oxford University press. She also edited the Ashgate collection, Religion and the Individual, 2008.

Christopher R. Cotter is a post-graduate student at the University of Edinburgh. His publications and research have centred on contemporary atheism and his recent MSc project concerned university students whose personal (non)religiosity challenged the reification of the religion-secular distinction. His future research work will continue the theme of ‘non-religion’. He is co-founder and podcast co-host at The Religious Studies Project, and a web editor at the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network.


  •  Cotter, Christopher R. 2011. Toward a Typology of “Nonreligion”: A Qualitative Analysis of Everyday Narratives of Scottish University Students. Unpublished MSc by Research Dissertation, Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, August.
  •  Davie, Grace, 2007. “Vicarious religion: A methodological challenge”. In Nancy T. Ammerman, Ed. Everyday religion: observing modern religious lives. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press: 21-36.
  •  Day, Abby, 2011.  Believing in Belonging: Belief and Social Identity in the Modern World. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
  • –          2009. Researching belief without asking religious questions. Fieldwork in Religion, 4, no. 1: 89–106.
  • –           2006. Believing in belonging: a case study from Yorkshire. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK.
  •  Storm, I. 2009. “Halfway to heaven: Four types of fuzzy fidelity in Europe.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 48: 702–718.
  • Voas, D. 2009. “The rise and fall of fuzzy fidelity in Europe”. European Sociological Review 25, no. 2: 155–68.
  • Woodhead, Linda 2012. “Introduction” In Linda Woodhead and Rebecca Catto, Eds, Religion and change in modern Britain. London: Routledge: 1-33.

Call for Papers: Modernism, Christianity, and Apocalypse (18-20 July 2012)

CALL FOR PAPERS: Modernism, Christianity, and Apocalypse (18-20 July 2012)

A conference organised by the Department of Foreign Languages at the University of Bergen, Norway; funded by the Bergen Research Foundation through the ‘Modernism and Christianity’ research project.

Conference organisers:

  • Dr Erik Tonning
  • Dr Matthew Feldman


  • Professor Paul S. Fiddes (University of Oxford)
  • Professor John Milbank (University of Nottingham)
  • Professor Hans Ottomeyer (Former Director of the German Historical Museum)
  • Professor Marjorie Perloff (University of Southern California)


  • Professor C. J. Ackerley (University of Otago)
  • Professor Mary Bryden (University of Reading)
  • Professor Pericles Lewis (Yale University)
  • Professor Gregory Maertz (St. John’s University, NY)
  • Professor Shane Weller (University of Kent)

The modernist imperative ‘Make it new!’ posits a break with traditional artistic forms, but also with the entire mould of a civilization felt to be in a state of terminal decay (‘an old bitch, gone in the teeth’, as a second dictum by Ezra Pound has it). Modernism was steeped in the language of apocalyptic crisis, generating multiple (and contradictory) millennial visions of artistic, cultural, religious and political transformation. This conference will examine the continuing impact of Christianity upon the modernist thinking of Apocalypse in Western culture, covering the period of early-to-high modernism (c. 1880-1945), with glances towards the immediate aftermath of World War II and the Bomb. ‘Modernism’ is not here confined to the arts, and contributions are warmly invited from scholars across the humanities and social sciences. The modernist crisis is often depicted as emerging ‘after’ disenchantment and secularisation. Yet contemporary assessments of Christianity varied strikingly, as modernist thinkers, artists, writers and political ideologues confronted its entrenched authority and formidable capacity for self-reinvention. Certainly, as the historian Peter J. Bowler has shown, the effort to ‘reconcile’ science and religion was in no way abandoned in early twentieth century discourse. Nor, of course, did the efforts of theologians across the confessional spectrum suddenly cease: on the contrary, theology from Karl Barth to the Nouvelle Théologie and beyond delivered penetrating responses to modernity. More radical theorists and philosophers of the modern from Nietzsche onward also grappled with Christianity, often becoming further enmeshed even while prophesying the Death of God. Indeed, whether read through Frazer’s dying gods or Freud’s paternal totems, the Christian stories stubbornly resisted easy assimilation. Repeatedly, artists and writers exploring radically new modes of religious experience might find their works subtly infiltrated by biblical or liturgical language and iconography. Christianity also garnered modernist converts: for some, the promise of cultural resurrection would converge on a return to orthodoxy following the liberal dilutions of the nineteenth century; while others freely adapted the tradition to suit their spiritual needs. Even those chary of such a step, or actively hostile to Christian faith, continued to reinvent the cultural resources and imagery of the Christian past – if only in order to overturn it in favour of a new future. The political religions of the twentieth century (Stalinism, Fascism, Nazism) promulgated their own revolutionary visions of Apocalypse and a secular Kingdom, casting Christianity as a chief antagonist, or at least as subservient to a vitalist national-political will. Nonetheless, these alternative salvation histories, too, were undeniably linked to their paradigm in the Christian tradition.

The complexities and ambiguities involved in such historical transactions are obvious: and interdisciplinary insights are essential in mapping them. Modernism, Christianity, and Apocalypse thus invites contributions by scholars in all relevant fields. New archival information and empirical research on this period is welcomed alongside broader theoretical and historical re-evaluations of the modernist crisis, or novel readings of central texts. A concerted effort to recover the complex interwovenness of modernism, Christianity and the apocalyptic imagination is especially urgent today, as the very idea of a ‘post-secular’ culture is being interrogated anew in a global context. Indeed, the recent Norway terror by a self-proclaimed crusader for ‘European civilization’ is a horrifying reminder that the contestation of history, and the proclamation of eschatologies, can still turn bloody.

Suggestions for individual papers/panels (others also welcome):

  • America, the UK and Ireland: W. H. Auden, Samuel Beckett, T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, David Jones, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Wyndham Lewis, Flannery O’Connor, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Virginia Woolf
  • France: Georges Bataille, Paul Claudel, André Gide, Charles Péguy, Simone Weil
  • Germany: Thomas Mann, Alfred Döblin, German expressionism
  • Russia: Anna Akhmatova, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy
  • Scandinavia: Knut Hamsun, August Strindberg


Conference venue: Hotel solstrand (outside Bergen, Norway) http://www.solstrand.com/english/articles.asp?segment=3&ID=139
CONFERENCE FEE (early bird rate): NOK 3700: This covers all expenses, including conference pack; two nights at the hotel; three lunches, two breakfasts and two dinners at the hotel (famous for its food); access to excellent sauna, pool and steam-room facilities; and a direct conference bus (at c. 11 am, c. 25-30 mins) to the hotel from Flesland airport (18th), with a return on Friday afternoon (20th, at 4 pm). There is also a postgraduate rate of NOK 3200 available. PLEASE NOTE: This subsidized rate is offered through conference funding provided by the Bergen Research Foundation. Registration at this rate is therefore limited to 75 delegates. Once this number of total delegates has been reached, additional registrations will cost NOK 4400. All delegates registering after 1 May 2012 will also be charged at this higher rate. Early registration is thus strongly recommended.

To register: Please send your title, abstract (100-200 words) and biographical information to erik.tonning@if.uib.no for consideration. Upon acceptance of your proposed paper (20 minutes), payment details will be emailed back to you. You will then have three weeks to complete your registration by making your payment: after this time, your place may be offered to someone else. Should you wish to cancel your registration at a later stage, a refund will be available (minus a service charge).

Call for Papers: eSharp Issue 17 – Crisis

Call for Papers: eSharp Issue 17 – Crisis

eSharp, an established peer-reviewed journal publishing high-quality research by postgraduate students invites papers for the forthcoming themed issue. For issue 17, Crisis, we invite articles which engage with crises, real and perceived, contemporary and historical, from within the spheres of the social sciences, education, and the arts and humanities. We encourage submissions from postgraduate students at any stage of their research and early career authors within one year of graduation.

The effects of the recent banking crisis are both financial and social, resulting in struggling markets, property devaluation, and mass unemployment. Within academia, austerity measures taken by
national governments are depleting and restructuring educational funding, and there is widespread speculation over greater social problems to come. Natural disasters and continuing wars challenge
governments and citizens to respond, both in action and thought. Conducting an analysis of the origins, explanations and consequences of crises, both within and across disciplines, will help construct a more complete picture, contextualize topical concerns, and indicate fruitful lines of further enquiry.

Subjects may include, but are not limited to:

*Economic Crises, Past and Present
*Natural Disasters
*Social Change and Upheaval
*Regime Change
*Identity Crisis
*Crises in Representation
*Approaches to Crisis Management
*The Family in Crisis
*Shortage and Austerity
*Consumption and Excess
*Personal Crises
*Stability and Flux
*Diasporic Responses to Crisis
*Crises in (Post)modernity
*Revolution and Conflict
*Digital Literacy and Education in Crisis
*Crises in print media
*Serious Illness and the Body in Crisis
*Ageing Populations
*Destruction, Reconstruction and Restructuring

Submissions must be based on original research and should be between 4,000 and 6,000 words in length. These should be made in Word document or RTF format.  Please ensure that you accompany your article with an abstract of 200 to 250 words and a list of three to five keywords to indicate the subject area of your article. A full list of guidelines and our style sheet is available online at http://www.gla.ac.uk/departments/esharp/.  Submissions and enquiries should be sent to submissions@esharp.org.uk. The final deadline for submission of articles is Monday 14th of March 2011.

Call for Papers: Faith Schools in Liberal Secular States: identity, integration and citizenship – University of Iceland, 25th-27th August 2011

If I happened to have the spare cash I would SO be there! In case anyone out there is interested…
Maybe we’ll be able to follow the events online?
6th ECPR General Conference
University of Iceland
(25th – 27th Aug. 2011)
Faith Schools in Liberal Secular States: identity, integration and
Panel Chair:  Victoria Montgomery (v.montgomery@qub.ac.uk)
Institution: Queen’s University, Belfast
Abstract: Faith schools are far from a new phenomenon, but recent years have witnessed a growing interest and concern regarding their place and expansion in liberal secular states, with people such as Richard Dawkins (2001) declaring them as ‘lethally divisive’. Although the post 9/11 context with its greater attention to issues such as integration and the public place of religion has increased such interest, the question of whether faith based education exacerbates societal fragmentation has been an ongoing issue in places such as Northern Ireland for many decades. The importance of faith schools goes beyond what is taught. The ethos and environment is a tool towards the maintenance of a particular way of life. And, certainly the right to have your child educated in a particular way hardly seems excessive or contrary to a liberal political culture. Moreover, as diversity is now regularly posited as a source of civic strength in many plural states, why is the practical expression of it in education so problematic? Yet, faith based education has been charged with having more to do with communalism than communitarianism.
Segregated education is seen to be at the heart of parallel communities. Indeed, moving beyond the physical lack of contact and communication that is implicit in faith based education; the mental distance it creates may also be problematic to a political culture which values autonomy and rationality as well as equality and liberty. In other words, if education in the Durkheim perspective socializes children into the norms of society, does a plural education system undermine the state? This panel then seeks to bring together scholars with an interest in the complex issue of faith schools and integration.
Click here to download the guidelines and deadlines for paper givers:

Call for Papers: Joint session RN 7 Sociology of Culture and RN 28 ‘Society and Sports’ – Geneva, Switzerland

I get sent fairly regular notifications of conferences, calls for papers etc through a variety of mailing lists, and I thought I should start sharing some of these (which particularly interest me, and which are already clearly in the public domain) just in case any of my readers are interested. Enjoy!

Call for papers submission

The RN 7 ‘Sociology of Culture’ and RN 28 ‘Society and Sports’ invite papers for their joint session at the Esa conference to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, in September 2011 (http://www.esa10thconference.com/).

Joint session RN 7 Sociology of Culture and RN 28 ‘Society and Sports’

Convenors: Dick Houtman and Davide Sterchele

Sport and religion/spirituality

Whereas the analogy between sport and religion has been criticized by many scholars mainly because of the lack (or low relevance) of the transcendent dimension in traditional sport practices, the recent sociological elaborations of the concept of spirituality seems to provide new interesting tools for interpreting the emerging forms of bodily movement. At the same time, the study of the analogies between traditional sports and institutionalized religions still generates relevant sociological insights. In order to contribute to these streams of research and to open new horizons for further research, the ESA research networks ‘Sociology of Culture’ and ‘Society and Sports’ invite potential contributors to submit abstracts to the joint session on ‘Sport and religion/spirituality’. The session will thus provide a forum for exchange and sharing among sociologists of culture, sport and religion, who deal with these themes from different but overlapping perspectives.

Abstract submission will be open on 10th January 2011. The deadline for proposals is 25th February 2011. Notification of acceptance will be given by 6th April 2011.

Abstracts should have no more than 300 words, can only be submitted online at: http://www.esa10thconference.com/submission.php

They must include: 1) name (s) and affiliation (s) of the author(s); 2) contact details of presenting author (postal address, telephone, fax and email address); 3) title of proposed presentation. 4) If your abstract refers to one of the above-mentioned topics, please indicate which one.

The abstracts will be peer reviewed. The contribution not selected for presentation will be accepted as distributed papers.

For any queries about this specific session, please contact:

Davide Sterchele (davide.sterchele@unipd.it)

coordinator – Esa RN 28 ‘Society and Sports’