Research Report: “Religion in Public Life: Levelling the Ground”, by Grace Davie

It is a commonplace, nowadays, to say that religion has returned to public life. And like most commonplaces it is partially true. Religion is most certainly present in public life in new and highly visible ways but to imply that religion was once nowhere and is now everywhere is seriously misleading.

We need instead to enquire into the factors that have brought about the current shift in perspective. That done, we must examine in detail the different – and at times contrasting – ways in which religion manifests itself is the very varied segments of society that we deem to be public.

In this report, sociologist of religion Professor Grace Davie draws on her 2016 Edward Cadbury Lectures to explore the ‘return’ of religion to public life, analysing a series of ‘levels’ – local, metropolitan, national, and global – and considering why and how we have got here, and what the future holds for religion in Britain. 

The report is available for download at

Grace Davie is Professor Emeritus at the University of Exeter. She is author of numerous works on religion and society, including Religion in Britain: A Persistent Paradox (2015, 2nd edition).

Proposal Deadline Submission for the Workshop, “Brokerage in a Diverse Europe: Intermediaries, Go-Betweens and Bridges”,Extended to November 24th!

Description of the workshop’s theme and aims:

As contemporary Europe has become ever more diverse due to globalization and international migration, processes of mediation and brokerage have become increasingly central to communication, cooperation, and conflict resolution in a range of political, institutional, and social domains. Whether as religious mediators, ethnic community leaders, diaspora experts or so-called migrant smugglers, middlemen and go-betweens bring together disparate communities and translate across different social fields. To describe their role, the concept of brokerage is used across a variety of disciplines, including political science, sociology, anthropology, economics, linguistics, development studies and subfields of each discipline, such as social movement studies, network studies, religious studies, and organizational studies. However, disciplinary boundaries have meant that disparate conceptions of brokerage coexist with limited exchange across research fields. This two-day multi-disciplinary workshop aims to bring together scholars working on brokerage in different social and political domains with the aim of identifying trends and divergences across various fields. We also seek to share and develop conceptual and methodological frameworks for studying brokerage in a diversifying Europe.

We invite paper presentations on the following topics, but are open to any paper addressing brokerage in a diverse Europe:

  • What are typical characteristics of brokers? Are certain groups or individuals more likely to act as brokers, and if so, why?
  • What are the conditions of success of brokerage and what leads to its failure?
  • How do brokers negotiate loyalty and conflicting interests between different social groups?
  • How does brokerage reinforce or challenge static conceptions of ‘culture’, ‘communities’, ‘borders’?
  • How can we understand brokers as gendered, racialized and classed subjects?
  • What is the role of brokerage in the governance of diversity?
  • What distinguishes brokers from related figures, such as native informants and mediators?

Please submit abstracts of approx. 500 words by the 24th of November to

The workshop will take place 12-13 January 2018 in London and is organised by Sara de Jong (The Open University/Göttingen University) and Avi Astor (Autonomous University of Barcelona). The workshop is sponsored by the Council for European Studies (CES). There is no registration fee, but participants have to fund their own travel and accommodation.

We seek to develop concrete plans for the publication of a special issue or edited volume on the basis of selected papers presented at the workshop.

New Book: The i-zation of Society, Religion, and Neoliberal Post-Secularism

The i-zation of Society, Religion, and Neoliberal Post-Secularism

Possamai, Adam

This book explores the elective affinity of religion and post-secularism with neoliberalism. With the help of digital capitalism, neoliberalism dominates, more and more, all aspects of life, and religion is not left unaffected. While some faith groups are embracing this hegemony, and others are simply following the signs of the times, changes have been so significant that religion is no longer what it used to be. Linking theories from Fredric Jameson and George Ritzer, this book presents the argument that our present society is going through a process of i-zation in which (1) capitalism dominates not only our outer, social lives (through, for example, global capitalism) but also our inner, personal lives, through its expansion in the digital world, facilitated by various i-technology applications; (2) the McDonaldization process has now been normalized; and (3) religiosity has been standardized. Reviewing the new inequalities present in this i-society, the book considers their impact on Jurgen Habermas’s project of post-secularism, and appraises the roles that various religions may have in supporting and/or countering this process. It concludes by arguing that Habermas’s post-secular project will occur but that, paradoxically, the religious message(s) will be instrumentalized for capitalist purposes.

Job Opening: Assistant/Associate Professor of the Study Religions

The field of the professorship is empirical and comparative study of religious traditions.  The study of religions involves empirical and comparative research on religious phenomena and traditions from a religion-neutral perspective and with a focus on empirical field work. At the University of Helsinki, students can pursue the study of religions at both the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Theology. At the Faculty of Arts, the study of religions will be included as of the beginning of 2018 in the new multicultural Department of Cultures.

The successful applicant may be appointed to a permanent professorship or a fixed-term associate/assistant professorship (tenure track system), depending on his or her qualifications and career stage.

A professor will carry out and supervise scientific research, provide teaching based on it, follow developments in research and participate in societal interaction in his/her field and in international cooperation.
He or she shall also participate in the development of teaching and acquire research funding.

An appointee to the position of assistant/associate professor within the tenure track system shall hold a doctoral degree, have the ability to conduct independent scholarly work and have the teaching skills necessary for the position. In addition, applicants for assistant professorships shall demonstrate their capability and motivation as regards an academic career through publications and other means.

Applicants are requested to enclose with their applications a single PDF file that includes the following documents in English:
1) A curriculum vitae
2) A report (max. 5 pages) on pedagogical expertise
3) A report (max. 5 pages) on the applicant’s research activities
(including activities in scientific communities, the acquisition of
research funding and international scholarly work)
4) A report (1-2 pages) on how the applicant intends to develop his or
her research and focus his or her activities, if appointed
5) A list of publications.
For instructions see….

Mid-term Conference Religions and Identities in the European Migration Crisis

30 August -1 September 2018 TURIN (IT) University of Turin, Campus Luigi Einaudi

The relation between immigration, citizenship, integration/participation in host societies, and religion has been for quite some time central to the interest of scholars. Over time, the increase of migrations from non-European countries has further enriched the debate, drawing attention to various religious traditions. The growth in the number of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists (as well as other religious affiliations) has re-directed scholars to the question of whether religious belonging (leading to convinced behavior) improves or hinders the process of integration of immigrants and, above all, of their children in the host society. At the same time, migration patterns have become quite complex. Migration from Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe has intensified and traditionally emigrant countries, particularly in Southern Europe, have also become destination countries. In addition, refugees and asylum seekers, associated with what has been usually termed as the “Mediterranean Crisis”, have prompted a profound social and political crisis across different European countries, contributing to anti-immigrant feelings. The issue of religious pluralism has thus become linked to wider interrelated issues such as citizenship rights; “deserving” and “non-deserving” migrants; how states and other institutions, including old and new religions, and in particular educational institutions, are managing the rising number of migrants; relations between different types of secularities and religious identities; understandings of cultural identities and so on.

The aim of the ESA RN34 mid-term conference is to respond to such challenges by welcoming papers that may contribute to:

  • clarifying the relations between migrants and faiths in host societies;
  • understanding the role played by ethnic churches/mosques/worship associations in the broader integration process;
  • investigating about how native Europeans develop their identity in response/ relationship to the religious identities of the newcomers;
  • addressing the relations between the European Convention on Human Rights and the role of regional and local authorities in managing religious pluralism;
  • scrutinizing the issues of anti-religious racism, right-wing extremism, radicalization and fundamentalism;
  • interrogating the treatment of various religious identities and different secular identities in host societies; –
  • exploring the relations between religions and gender in the context of migration; –
  • examining the implications for how immigrants, belonging both to first- and second-generations, (re)configure religious arrangements in the context of anti-immigrant discourse; –
  • contributing to an innovative research agenda on to what extent religions matter in migrants’ daily life.
  • Other topics related to the theme of the conference are also welcomed.

Beside papers, session /panel proposals are welcomed too. PhD students and post-doc fellows are particularly encouraged to submit a paper. There is a possibility to propose also a poster session, including work in progress. The best poster will get a small, but nice prize.

A specific workshop will be organized on “Mixed-methods in exploring religiousness within diaspora communities” for nonacademic researchers.


We look forward to your proposals and to welcoming you in Turin!
Roberta Ricucci & Siniša Zrinščak (ESA – RN34 Coordinator & Vice-Coordinator)

Download a PDF file for complete instrucctions:CfP_ESA_RN34_2018.pdf

Conference on Music and the Sacred

12–14 November 2018, Helsinki, Finland

Call for Papers and Presentations

The Finnish Society for Ethnomusicology and the Finnish Society for Hymnology and Liturgy hereby invite submissions for the conference ”Music and the Sacred”. In the conference, the aim is to address the various ways in which music intersects with sacred phenomena, and vice versa. This entails acknowledging the multidimensionality of both music and the sacred, and how music becomes sacralised in diverse ways and how the sacred becomes reconceptualised in musical contexts. A crucial point of departure for the conference is to understand the sacred not only as a religious idea but also as a broader conceptual field that, in the words of Gordon Lynch, pertains to “what people collectively experience as absolute, non-contingent realities which present normative claims over the meaning and conduct of social life” (The Sacred in the Modern World, 2012). In music, alongside explicitly religious songs and tunes, clearest examples include national anthems and other national(istic) forms of music, as well as ubiquitous ideas about music’s transcendental qualities and effects.

The topic relates also to recent discussions over multiculturalism and postsecularity, both of which imply a change towards a more diverse religious and spiritual cultural environment. While multiculturalism is associated with the spread of conventional religions, postsecularity in turn may be understood as the possibility to broaden the ethics and values of modernist secular states through world’s religions, traditional cultures and various alternative spiritualities. While there is ample literature on “rescripting the sacred”, as it were, in relation to these societal and cultural shifts, music features surprisingly rarely in these accounts. To emphasise the importance of music in the current conditions of religious diversity and re-enchantment, submissions dealing with the following themes, among other relevant ones, are invited:

·      musics within religious institutions and otherwise organised religions and religious movements;
·      religiosity in music;
·      “sacred” music in relation to its “mundane”, “profane”, “secular” or “unholy” counterparts;
·      the importance of religious doctrines for definitions of music;
·      origin myths and other forms of mythologisation of music;
·      ideologies of musical autonomy and authenticity;
·      stars and geniouses, fan(atic)s and aficionados;
·      music and sub-/occultures;
·      national(istic) musics;
·      music, racialisation and racism;
·      music, the sacred and gender;
·      music and indigenous belief systems;
·      music and paganism;
·      canonisation and other forms of historiographical sanctification of music;
·      music and dark tourism;
·      music and sacred spaces;
·      sacred politics of music;
·      music, the sacred and freedom of expression;
·      music, censorship and moral panics;
·      music and totalitarianism.

The organisers welcome proposals for individual 20-minute presentations, entire 90-minute sessions and 45-minute lecture-recitals. Alternative presentation formats will be considered. Proposals from Master’s students are also welcome.

The proposals shall include the following information:

·      the title of the presentation/session;
·      the name(s), position(s) and affiliation(s) of the presenter(s);
·      an abstract not exceeding 300 words (in case of sessions, please indicate individual topics if appropriate).

The proposals shall be sent preferably in pdf to no later than 20 April 2018. Letters of confirmation will be sent by 31 May 2018.

The participation fee for the conference is EUR 60 (no concessions). Members of the organising societies are exempt from the fee.

The conference will be honoured with guest lectures by Professor Philip V. Bohlman (University of Chicago), Professor Hannu Salmi (University of Turku) and Senior Lecturer Abigail Wood (University of Haifa). The conference is supported financially by the Emil Aaltonen Foundation.

All correspondence regarding the conference should be directed to