2018 World Congress of Sociology — Theme Announcement


Religion, Power, and Resistance: New Ideas for a Divided World

Program Coordinators:
Anna Halafoff, Deakin University, Australia
Sam Han, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Caroline Starkey, University of Leeds, UK

Current environmental, economic, social, and political challenges indicate that people are losing faith in existing power structures and mechanisms for coping with crises. This creates increasingly divided societies, riven by ideological battles for the future of the human and the more than human world. Religion has a place in this picture. Not only is it often a source of divisions; it can also be a source for alternative means of addressing them.

These divisions take new and as yet unclear shapes, which sociologists are only now beginning to comprehend. It is not enough to refer to the struggle between ‘tradition’ and ‘modernity’, terms that dominated sociology through the 1970s. Nor do the tropes ‘colonialism vs. anti-colonialism’ and the ‘clash of civilizations’ adequately explain what is going on. Nor, arguably, does ‘populism vs neo-liberalism’ fully capture such things as the recent clashes between cosmopolitan and anticosmopolitan actors in the major Western democracies. Each of these has a piece of the picture; none of them captures it all.

What is religion’s role in this situation: as a creator of divisions, as a locus of power, and as a ground of resistance?  How does religion influence our divided societies? How is religion influenced in turn?

We invite proposals for RC22 sessions that focus on religion, power, intersectional violence, and social divisions, and also resistance to power, violence, and division. We encourage sessions that explore the nexus between:

• religion and global capitalism;
• religion and colonialism;
• religion and nationalism;
• religion and racism;
• religion and violent extremism;
• religion and gender inequality;
• religion and sexuality inequality;
• religion and environmental crises;
• religion and resistance to power and violence; and
• other topics that speak to religion’s role in a divided world.

We particularly encourage a focus on new ideas. We thus encourage sessions on:

• post-colonial, Southern and Eastern social theories;
• gender and sexuality equality;
• violent and nonviolent social movements;
• human rights and peacebuilding;
• third spaces, digital activism, and other new phenomena.

Above all, we seek new ways of understanding religion in our divided world.

The ISA CONFEX website site will be open to session proposals between 2 February and 15 March, 2017 24:00 GMT. 

We will circulate another announcement with details of how to submit proposals before then. 

We welcome both pre-organized sessions and topical sessions that will be open to paper proposals by individuals.

Once the sessions are chosen, individuals will have an opportunity to propose individual papers for those sessions: from April 25 to September 30, 2017 24:00 GMT, also at the CONFEX website.

Please address any questions to the Program Coordinators:

  • Anna Halafoff: anna.halafoff (at) deakin.edu.au
  • Sam Han: HanSam (at) ntu.edu.sg
  • Caroline Starkey: C.Starkey (at) leeds.ac.uk