"Religion and the Production of Difference"
30 October - 1 November 2019
Organizing committee: Dr Kim Knibbe, Dr Joram Tarusarira, Prof. Todd Weir, Dr Clare Wilde and Dr Méadhbh McIvor (University of Groningen)
It is well established within the field of religious studies that what is studied as “religion” today may not have been labeled as such in the past. Additionally, phenomena that contemporary scholars of religion study may not self-identify as religious. Despite these contested categories, “religion” has become an accepted category in societies around the world. It is a label to be claimed or rejected, or otherwise related to (for example, by those who call themselves ‘spiritual but not religious’); a phenomenon to be fought against or fought for; a societal actor that can claim rights within particular legal frameworks, regulated by various forms and levels of governance, or a superstitious holdover that should be argued out of existence.
Reflecting these tensions in the identification of religion, this conference calls for panels that examine religion in relation to the production of difference at various levels of society (e.g. religious-non-religious, but also in relation to ethnicity and gender, national identity etc..). In highlighting the role of religion in the production of difference, we aim also to draw attention to the ways that religious practices, identifications, and alliances establish 'same-ness' through the fixing of meaning (e.g. “normative” practices or textual interpretations) and the delineation and legitimation of authority. Towards this end, we are interested in the lexicon of “religion” in various traditions, times and places (e.g. “Islam” as dīn but also umma). But also those practices, identifications and forms of authority that selectively use the category of “religion” (such as evangelical and Pentecostal Christians, who reject the term for themselves but apply it to others), and those which have been defined in an oppositional or other relationship to ” religion” (such as secularist or spiritual actors).We aim to have a representation of scholarship on different historical periods, regions in the world and theoretical perspectives. Through the invited plenary sessions and keynotes, we will bring different strands of scholarship in conversation with each other around the conference theme.