CFP: RC22-Sponsored Sessions at the SISR/ISSR Meeting in Barcelona

ISA’s Research Committee on the Sociology of Religion is co-sponsoring sessions at the next meeting of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (ISSR) in Barcelona, 9-12 July, 2019.  The conference theme is: “The Politics of Religion and Spirituality”.

Papers may be presented in either English or French.  The deadline for to submit proposals is the 16th December 2018.  Please submit your titles and abstracts at:

Here are the joint sessions  and other sessions sponsored by ISA members:

1) Decolonizing the Sociology of Religion?

Jim Spickard, University of Redlands
Marian Burchardt, University of Leipzig

Abstract: There have been several recent claims that sociology needs to be “decolonized”. Some authors focus on the discipline’s tendency to apply Euro-American models of society to the rest of the world, whether or not those models adequately illuminate those local social patterns (Akiwowo 1988; Park 1988; Gutiérrez Rodriquez et al. 2010; Go 2016). Others focus on the structure of its intellectual production, including its valorizing of “Northern” intellectuals and institutions over the intellectuals and institutions of the “Global South” (Gareau 1988; Steinmetz 2013; Qi 2014; Connell 2018).* Others explore alternative sociologies by locating ideas from non-Western sources that increase our understanding of Western societies as well as their own (Connell 2007; Alatas 2014; Spickard 2017). All these efforts take place in the context of wider critiques of Euro-American intellectual dominance in several fields (Bulbeck 1998; Alatas 2006; Bhambra 2007; Patel 2010; Reuter and Villa 2010).

Euro-American approaches to the sociology of religion have also had their critics (Bender et al. 2013; Spickard 2017). Few of these, however, have engaged deeply with postcolonial thinking, nor with the effect that global power imbalances have on the subdiscipline’s intellectual content. Nor have most of them engaged with the concept “decolonializing” itself—a distinctly problematic term (Barker et al. 1994; Harding 1998; Young 2001; Cooper 2005; Go 2016).

This session offers participants an opportunity to join this discussion. We seek paper proposals that do one or more of the following:

  1. Address the limitations of contemporary approaches to the sociology of religion in the context of global inequality and cultural difference.
  2. Assess the nuances, strengths, and weaknesses of the decolonization paradigm for improving the sociology of religion.
  3. Explore alternatives to standard approaches in the sociology of religion, particularly those that stem from ignored, repressed, or otherwise overlooked positions in the global field.

We welcome paper proposals that will produce a rich discussion.

2) The Politics of Religion and Spirituality in Cross Cultural Research

Jualynne E. Dodson (RC-22 Member)
Michigan State University

Abstract: In our globalized world, societies are progressively more politically active and diverse in demographic characteristics and religious practices. Sociology of Religion is challenged by these realities even as we study politics, religion and their interrelated impact in a variety of cultural situations. A fundamental question is whether research has provided systematic knowledge on humans’ socio-religious practices that is sufficiently accurate and culturally grounded to equal ‘baseline data’ for further predictive investigations. We need culturally reflective comprehensions about religion, spirituality, and socio-political issues, including their interrelatedness, to ensure the integrity of our data findings for guiding human society to more inclusive and productive goals. This is a RC-22 proposal for a thematic session on topics related to politics, religion, spirituality and cross-cultural research. The session wishes papers that share research experiences and findings from reflective studies of religion in cultures not their own. The session is open for papers but core presentations will be from work of three investigators who study organic, Africa-inspired religious traditions in Cuba’s eastern region. The three persons have agreed to present papers on: “The Political Life of Spirits: Palo Monte/Mayombe in Oriente, Cuba,” “Organic Religious Production & Shifting Political Landscapes: Cuba” and “Swearing Oaths and Prophesying Ruin: Plácido as a Prophet of the African Diaspora.” I propose to Chair the session and can present a paper if that will complete a panel. It also is possible that there could be a sufficient number of paper proposals to equal two or more panels. I am open.

3) Social Theory and Religion 2

Titus HJELM, University College London,
James V. SPICKARD,(RC22 Member) University of Redlands,

Abstract: The aim of this session is to stimulate the debate about theoretical ideas that have a bearing on sociological research on religion. Contributions are welcome from researchers applying both familiar and less familiar traditions of social theory to the study of religion.