Author Archives: Janaki

CFP: Mysticism in Comparative Perspective

Mysticism in Comparative Perspective


Glasgow University 14th-16th December 2016

Speakers to include:
Rob Faesen (Leuven)

William Franke (Vanderbilt)

Bernard McGinn (Chicago)

George Pattison (Glasgow)

Ada Rapoport-Albert (King’s College, London)

Jane Shaw (Stanford)

Mia Spiro (Glasgow)

At the start of the 20th century, it was widely believed that there was some unitary ‘mystical experience’ underlying the varieties of religious and doctrinal expression. On this view, a Christian, a Buddhist, a Hindu, or a Sufi all had the ‘same’ experience and only differed in their manner of expressing it. By the end of the century this kind of comparativism had fallen into disrepute. Nevertheless, dialogue between faiths would seem to be significantly imperilled if no shared experiential or practical points of unity can be identified. Drawing on recent research, the conference seeks to renew the project of a comparative study of mysticism and in doing so to offer resources for both teaching and research in theology and religious studies.

Proposals under the following headings are especially welcome: Methodology, Annihilation, Love/Union, Material Culture, and Syncretism.

Proposals for Papers must be sent by September 15th to (Acceptances will be notified by end-September.)

The conference will incorporate the Astaire Seminar in Jewish Studies ‘Wandering Souls’ with papers by Ada Rapoport-Albert and Mia Spiro.

For more information, see the Mystical Theology Network Website:

Brand Islam: The Marketing and Commodification of Piety


Brand Islam

The Marketing and Commodification of Piety

Faegheh Shirazi


University of Texas Press

August 2016 336pp

From food products to fashions and cosmetics to children’s toys, a wide range of commodities today are being marketed as “halal” (permitted, lawful) or “Islamic” to Muslim consumers both in the West and in Muslim-majority nations. However, many of these products are not authentically Islamic or halal, and their producers have not necessarily created them to honor religious practice or sentiment. Instead, most “halal” commodities are profit-driven, and they exploit the rise of a new Islamic economic paradigm, “Brand Islam,” as a clever marketing tool.

Brand Islam investigates the rise of this highly lucrative marketing strategy and the resulting growth in consumer loyalty to goods and services identified as Islamic. Faegheh Shirazi explores the reasons why consumers buy Islam-branded products, including conspicuous piety or a longing to identify with a larger Muslim community, especially for those Muslims who live in Western countries, and how this phenomenon is affecting the religious, cultural, and economic lives of Muslim consumers. She demonstrates that Brand Islam has actually enabled a new type of global networking, joining product and service sectors together in a huge conglomerate that some are referring to as the Interland. A timely and original contribution to Muslim cultural studies, Brand Islam reveals how and why the growth of consumerism, global communications, and the Westernization of many Islamic countries are all driving the commercialization of Islam.

Call for Abstracts – Religion in Contexts

Call for Abstracts

Religion in  Contexts

-Handbook of the Sociology of Religion-

We are inviting for outline abstracts of 500 words by 30.9.2016 to each editor.

For further information see the annexed file please.

Melanie Reddig, Düsseldorf/ Annette Schnabel, Düsseldorf/ Heidemarie Winkel, Bielefeld

It is the aim of the volume to collect contributions that contextualise religions in their worldwide multiplicity, their particular societal configurations and their dynamics of social transformation. We want to understand religion as a multi-dimensional concept comprising of religious beliefs, world views and practices as well as the richness of religious groups, parishes, organisations and professions characterized by varying hierarchical relations, norms and values systems of societal range. Additionally, religion is also relevant from a macro-perspective as a category of social belonging and social difference; this includes institutional settings as well as social teachings and the religious bodies of knowledge.

At large, the volume will gather and systematically discuss a wide range of contexts and their varying influences on religion. On the basis of selected empirical data, the contributions shall reveal the social mechanisms and processes by which religion is shaped, realised and made salient. By this, the volume will provide a theoretical reconstruction of varying social effects in various societal contexts and a critical input to the up-to-date sociology of religion. This includes the analysis of interdependencies with other social fields like politics or science as well as the intersection with other social categories of difference like gender, race or age.

We are looking for manuscripts that locate religion in spatial, functional and societal contexts: (i) spatial contexts may comprise of global, regional or local environments that influence the relationship between religion and society. (ii) Functional contexts may relate to law, politics and economics but also to social inequalities and social identities. (iii) Societal contexts are practice- and interaction-related and embedded in everyday life on the micro-level; they endorse organisations, networks and their hierarchical order on the meso-level and relate to societal discourses, world views, and values on the macro-level.

Our explicit aim is to emphasise the so far neglected perspective on religion arising from culturally and socially structured phenomena–religion in this regard is understood as neither ‘quasi-naturally’ given nor as a necessarily antecedent and independent category. By this, we want to question Eurocentric perspectives in the sociology of religion and instead, search for alternative accesses to compare religions and contribute to a better understanding of the social mechanisms that make (and maintain) religions salient.

Projected structure:


(I) Introduction: Contextualising religion

(II) Religion in spatial contexts

Global contexts

Regional contexts

Local contexts

(III) Religion in social contexts

Religion and its political context

Religion and its legal contexts

Religion and contexts of economy and social inequality

Religion and its contexts of identity

(IV) Religion and the levels of inquiry

Religion in the context of everyday life

Religion in the context of organisations, networks and hierarchies

Religion in the context of structure and culture

The volume will be published by NOMOS end of 2017. Manuscripts should be submitted by 31.03.2017.

We are inviting for contributions of up to 30.000 characters (including bibliographical indications). We very much appreciate your acceptance. Initially, please submit an outline abstract of 500 words by 30.09.2016 to each editor:


Melanie Reddig:

Annette Schnabel:

Heidemarie Winkel:

Out now: special issue of New Diversities

The Infrastructures of Diversity: Materiality and Culture in Urban Space

Guest Editors: Marian Burchardt (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen), Stefan Höhne (Technische Universität Berlin) and AbdouMaliq Simone (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen). With contributions by Suzi Hall, Kim Knott, AbdouMaliq Simone and many others.

In contemporary scholarship  materiality and human diversity constitute two largely disconnected ways of think- ing about urban space. Scholars interested in materiality are loosely connected and inspired by the “infrastructural turn” while those focusing on human diversity work within the “diversity turn”. This special issue argues that bringing together urban infrastructures and urban diversity opens up new avenues for thinking about the politics and meanings of space. Spanning distances between Rio de Janeiro, London, Manila and Ankara, the contributions to this special issue ask how socio-material assemblages shape encounters with diversity in urban life in relation to concrete social problems. 


The Infrastructures of Diversity: Materiality and Culture in Urban Space – An Introduction
by Marian Burchardt (Max PIanck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen) and Stefan Höhne (Technische Universität Berlin)
»read the full article

Walls and Other Unremarkable Boundaries in South London: Impenetrable Infrastructure or Portals of Time, Space and Cultural Difference?
by Kim Knott (Lancaster University)
»read the full article
Abstract and Keywords

Infrastructures of Partition, Infrastructures of Juncture: Separation Barriers and Intercommunal Contact in Belfast and Nicosia
by Emily Bereskin (Technische Universität Berlin)
»read the full article
Abstract and Keywords

Envisioning Migration: Drawing the Infrastructure of Stapleton Road, Bristol
by Suzanne M. Hall, Julia King, and Robin Finlay (London School of Economics and Political Science)
»read the full article
Abstract and Keywords

The Sacred Diesel: Infrastructures of Transportation and Religious Art in Manila
by Anderson Blanton (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen)
»read the full article
Abstract and Keywords

Large-scale Urbanization and the Infrastructure of Religious Diversity in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro
by Stephan Lanz (European University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder)
»read the full article
Abstract and Keywords

Architectures of Interreligious Tolerance: The Infrastructural Politics of Place and Space in Croatia and Turkey
by Jeremy F. Walton (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen)
»read the full article
Abstract and Keywords

Urban Diversity: Disentangling the Cultural from the Economic Case
by Boris Vormann (John-F.-Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Berlin)
»read the full article
Abstract and Keywords

Cities as Infrastructures of Diversification and Homogenisation: Constructing Multiformal Spaces in Paris and Shenzhen
by Stephen Read (Delft University of Technology)
»read the full article
Abstract and Keywords

Passing Things Along: (In)completing Infrastructure
by AbdouMaliq Simone (Max PIanck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen)
»read the full article
Abstract and Keywords

Muslim prison chaplaincies

This link is about an international symposium to be held in Paris 24-25 November about the role that prison chaplains could play in the fight against the swing to violent extremism.  It will seek to review the way in which Muslim actors in France and in other countries have made use of this institution even though it does not belong to their own religious tradition.


Jim Beckford FBA

Emeritus Professor of Sociology

University of Warwick

The making of Muslim chaplaincies in prisons – Comparative approaches

The making of Muslim chaplaincies in prisons –
Comparative approaches

International symposium

Date of symposium: Thursday 24 and Friday 25 November, 2016 in Paris.

Organisers: Céline Béraud (EHESS, Centre d’études en sciences sociales
du religieux) and Claire de Galembert (CNRS, Institut des sciences
sociales du politiques, ENS Cachan) This symposium is organised as part
of the ‘post-terrorist attack’ research financed by CNRS. Scientific
committee: Jim Beckford (University of Warwick), Sophie Gilliat-Ray
(Cardiff University), Irène Becci (Université de Lausanne), Franck
Frégosi (Institut d’études politiques d’Aix-en-Provence), Mar Griera
(Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Solenne Jouanneau (Université de

In France, prison chaplain activities are currently under hitherto
unforeseen scrutiny in the scope of public action and academic fields.
Pioneering research by Jim Beckford and Sophie Gilliat-Ray (1998) on
managing religious diversity in English prisons paved the way for works
in different national contexts: in particular, Germany (Becci, 2012;
Harms, 2014); Canada (Gagnon, 2008; Beckford & Cairns, 2015); Spain
(Martinez-Arino, Garcia-Romeral, Ubasart-Gonzalez, & Griera, 2015);
France (Beckford, Joly and Khosrokhavar, 2005; Sarg & Lamine, 2011;
Sarg, 2016; Béraud, Galembert and Rostaing, 2013 and 2016); Italy
(Rhazzali, 2010; Fabretti, 2015); Norway and Sweden (Furseth et Kühle
2011); Holland (Ajouaou et Bernts 2015); Switzerland (Becci Bovay &
Kuhn, 2007; Schneuwly-Purdy, 2011).

This renewed interest in an institution that seemed to be on the verge
of falling into disuse little more than two decades ago in France, can
be explained by the upheaval that the religious profile of inmates has
undergone in the past three or four decades. This shift, in evidence in
French, but also British, German, Dutch and Belgium prisons (Roy, 2015),
has made the accommodation of religious diversity – particularly Islam –
unavoidable. Moreover, Islamic chaplains have been seen as a policy tool
for preventing radicalisation. It has resulted in particular from the
interest shown by public authorities in this institution as a potential
instrument for preventing prisoners giving over to religious extremism.
In the aftermath of the killings perpetrated by Mohammed Merah and Mehdi
Nemouche and the 2015 terrorist attacks, Muslim chaplains have benefited
from major backing from the French State, to such an extent that it has
become the most-financed religion in prisons in 2016.

In a context where there is widespread interest in the role chaplains
could play in the fight against the swing to violent extremism, this
symposium will seek to review the way in which Muslim actors in France
and in other countries have made use of this institution even though it
does not belong to their own religious tradition. How have public
policies against prison radicalisation stimulated the
institutionalisation of Muslim chaplaincy in prisons? And how are they
also making it more complicated?

Full call: see Appel_com_anglais

Journal of Contemporary Religion – Virtual Special Issue: Sociology

Journal of Contemporary Religion
Virtual Special Issue: Sociology

We are pleased to introduce a brand new Virtual Special Issue from
Journal of Contemporary Religion featuring key research on sociology and

By exploring the crossroads between the two subject areas, this new
Virtual Special Issue seeks to celebrate the interdisciplinary character
of Journal of Contemporary Religion.

Join Elisabeth Arweck, Editor of JCR in a journey through the latest
articles and reviews taking a sociological approach to contemporary
issues regarding religion.

All research featured in this new Virtual Special Issue is free to
access for a limited time, so simply click on the link below to start
reading today.