CFP: Re-thinking Boundaries in the Study of Religion and Politics

Call for Papers: Postgraduate Conference – Re-thinking Boundaries in the Study of Religion and Politics

Proposal Deadline: 19th June 2015

11-12 September 2015

Linklater Rooms, University of Aberdeen

A common approach to the study of religion and politics frames the
inquiry using boundaries. Such boundaries include religion/secular,
private/public, belief/practice and theism/atheism, to name just a few.
It may be argued that these categorisations are analytically useful in
understanding social phenomena because, for example, what is ‘religious’
should be analysed in relation to what is ‘secular.’ Another approach
may instead point to the problem with the construction of such binaries
in that empirically these distinctions become blurred, so that framing
an action, for example as ‘public’ or ‘private’, does not reflect the
diversity of human experience. The various approaches to the study of
these boundaries meet different critiques. For one, it may be argued
that the use of these categories does not always provide adequate
contextual, historical or empirical consideration, and may then fall
victim to generalisation. On the other hand, it may also be argued that
the way these boundaries have been constructed should be critically
addressed to shed light on the reasons they are often sustained
analytically despite their empirical blurriness. Therefore, the
conference aims to provide a space for participants to engage in a
constructive dialogue on how to think about these boundaries. The
committee is trying to move beyond noting the blurriness between these
categories of thought, and instead seek to examine the consequences of
these boundaries by creating a space for interdisciplinary dialogue.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • What kinds of boundaries do scholars of religion work with?
  • What are the political/social/cultural/theological consequences and
    implications of critically approaching these boundaries?
  • What does such an examination say about the subject of post-secularity?
  • What kinds of frameworks help to bridge together a critical analysis
    of these boundaries whilst taking into account agency and the life
    experiences of individuals?
  • What is the dynamic relationship between these boundaries when
    thinking about them as categories of analysis and also of action?
  • How is such an examination important in depicting relations between
    religion and social and cultural outlooks, including politics, law,
    education and theology in contemporary societies?
  • What is the political and how might our understanding of politics
    develop from examining these categories?
  • In relation to the conference theme, what does faith-based mean?

The conference organisers welcome postgraduate researchers interested in
exploring how closer attention to the ways in which such boundaries are
constructed can be meaningfully questioned to engage with working
research questions. Methodological approaches may include both empirical
studies (both qualitative and quantitative) and theoretical analysis.
The conference invites those studying in a variety of disciplinary
fields within the Humanities and Social Sciences with the intention of
creating interdisciplinary engagement. Additionally, the conference
welcomes applications from those studying contemporary contexts within
any geographical area.

We welcome presentations on any of the following:

· Research papers for submission to academic journals
· Research findings or excerpts from a PhD thesis
· Methodological or research design ideas for a PhD thesis
· Masters papers in the final stages with a view to continuing into a
PhD programme

Delegates will benefit from hearing lectures given by scholars in the
field. They will also gain further presentation experience, receive
feedback on their work and establish networks with other early career
researchers with overlapping research interests. Scholars from the
University of Aberdeen will provide feedback on presentations.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

· Abby Day (Goldsmiths University of London, University of Kent)
· Timothy Fitzgerald (University of Stirling)

Additionally, part of the conference will be organised as a workshop to
give participants the opportunity to take part in theme-specific talks.
These workshops will be facilitated by University of Aberdeen academics.
Details will follow once all proposals are received.

Tentative themes will be:

1) approaching the category of Islam from empirical to analytical,
2) gender and non-belief,
3) religion and politics as categories of the modern state.

Please submit your proposal of a maximum 250 words and a short CV to
Sarah Hynek at by the deadline of 19 June 2015.

Proposals that arrive after this deadline without a particular reason
will not be accepted. The conference is free of charge (lunch and
refreshments will be provided). Hotel accommodation on the evening of 11
September will be reserved and the costs covered. Attendees are expected
to arrange and pay for their own travel expenses.

Presenters will be allotted 15 minutes for their presentation and 15
minutes for discussion. Those in the early stages of research presenting
their methodology or research design will be allotted 10 minutes to
present and 10 minutes for discussion.

Please do not hesitate to contact the email address indicated above
should you have any inquiries. We look forward to receiving a proposal
from you.

Conference Committee

Sarah Hynek
Yutaka Osakabe