Dedicated to historical, critical, and social scientific approaches to the study of religion, as well as a relentlessly reflexive critique of the theories, methods, and categories used in such study.

CFP: Healing Gods, Heroes, and Rituals in the Graeco-Roman World

The connection between belief and healing has featured in almost every human civilization. From its central presence in the narratives of the Abrahamic religions, through to studies of the placebo effect, societies have long been fascinated by the capacity of faith to heal, whether this is treated as a natural phenomenon or a gift from a supernatural or theological realm. This presence is keenly felt in the Ancient realm and particularly in the Graeco-Roman world.

For instance, the significance of a hero’s healing miracle is profoundly affected by any likeness it bears to actions of gods or heroes already known to an audience. In principle, any deity or any divinely empowered hero of the Graeco-Roman world could be claimed to have performed a healing miracle. Deities like Heracles, Isis and Asclepius are among those who were regularly attributed with healings.

In order to contribute to the development of the research on this field we invite paper submissions for online publication in a special collection of articles under the title “Healing gods, heroes and rituals in the Graeco-Roman world”. Topics for consideration include but are not limited to:

  • The enduring appeal of healing myths
  • New approaches to the study of healing in the Graeco-Roman world
  • Approaches to ancient healing through the emergent medical humanities field
  • Histories and genealogies of healing
  • Cultural approaches to gods and heroes who heal
  • Healing miracles across myths, faiths and sciences

The special collection, edited by Athanasios Koutoupas, is to be published in the Open Library of Humanities (ISSN 2056-6700). The OLH is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded open-access journal with a strong emphasis on quality peer review and a prestigious academic steering board. Unlike some open-access publications, the OLH has no author-facing charges and is instead financially supported by an international consortium of libraries.

Submissions should be made online at: https://submit.openlibhums.org/ in accordance with the author guidelines and clearly marking the entry as [Healing gods, heroes and rituals in the Graeco-Roman world SPECIAL COLLECTION]. Submissions will then undergo a double-blind peer-review process. Authors will be notified of the outcome as soon as reports are received.

For more information, view webpage here.

CFP: God, Religion, and Politics

University of Sheffield, April 8-9 2015

The God, Religion and Politics conference will present a range of speakers talking on discourses relating to religion and the Bible in contemporary politics (broadly defined as post-1945), with a particular (but not exclusive) reference to British politics.

The conference will address questions such as:

  • What assumptions about, and constructions of, ‘religion’ and ‘the Bible’ are made in political discourse?
  • To what extent do politicians engage with discourses relating to religion and the Bible?
  • Do different political parties and political traditions have notably different discourses about religion and the Bible?
  • How do discourses about religion and the Bible relate to discourses about, for instance, nationalism, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and disability?
  • How do pressure groups and think tanks relate to discourses about religion and politics?
  • How are discourses about religion and politics represented in contemporary culture (e.g. literature, film, TV, social media, newspapers)?
  • In what ways are historical understandings of political discourses tied in with historic understandings of the Bible and religion?

Call for papers: If you wish to present a paper, please send an abstract of approximately 150-200 words to godreligionpolitics[at]gmail.com. The closing date for submissions is 2 March 2015. Papers will be around 25-30 mins long, with 10-15 mins for discussion.

For more information, visit the conference webpage here.

Books of Interest: New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa

Rosalind I. J. Hacke9780253015242_medtt and Benjamin F. Soares (Editors), New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa (Indiana University Press 2014).

New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa casts a critical look at Africa’s rapidly evolving religious media scene. Following political liberalization, media deregulation, and the proliferation of new media technologies, many African religious leaders and activists have appropriated such media to strengthen and expand their communities and gain public recognition. Media have also been used to marginalize and restrict the activities of other groups, which has sometimes led to tension, conflict, and even violence. Showing how media are rarely neutral vehicles of expression, the contributors to this multidisciplinary volume analyze the mutual imbrications of media and religion during times of rapid technological and social change in various places throughout Africa.

Books of Interest: A Modest Proposal on Method

Russell T. McCutcheon, A Modest Proposal on Method: Essaying the Study of Religion (Brill 2015).

A modest proposal on methodA Modest Proposal on Method further documents methodological and institutional failings in the academic study of religion. This collection of essays—which includes three previously unpublished chapters—identifies the manner in which old problems (like the presumption that our object of study is a special, deeply meaningful case) yet remain in the field. But amidst the critique there are a variety of practical suggestions for how the science of religion can become methodologically even-handed and self-reflexive—the markings of a historically rigorous exercise. Each chapter is introduced and contextualized by a newly written, substantive introduction.

Books of Interest: Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage

Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage

Michael Pye, Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage (Equinox 2015).

Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage explores the ritual practice of “circulatory pilgrimages” – the visiting of many temples in a numbered sequence. Every year, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims travel such temple routes, seeking peace of mind, health and wellbeing for themselves and others as the benefits of such meritorious endeavour. This form of pilgrimage appears to be unique to Japan. The practice began centuries ago and involved visiting 33 temples devoted to the Bodhisattva Kannon, spread widely over western Japan. Soon afterwards the equally famous pilgrimage to 88 temples on Japan’s fourth island of Shikoku came into prominence.

This is the first comprehensive study of all the major and many of the minor routes, The book also examines how the practice of circulatory pilgrimage developed among the shrines and temples for the Seven Gods of Good Fortune, and beyond them to the rather different world of Shintō. The varying significance of the different pilgrimages is also explored. In addition to all the information about the routes, the book includes numerous illustrations and examples of the short Buddhist texts chanted by the pilgrims on their rounds.

Quote the discount code “Pilgrimage” to receive 25% off the retail price when ordering from http://www.equinoxpub.com; valid until the end of April 2015.

NAASR Note: Religious Studies, Liberal Arts, and the Public University

***Deadline extended to 31 January 2015***

The following CFP might be of interest to NAASR members:

Religious Studies, Liberal Arts, and the Public University

The conference will examine religious studies methods, curriculum, pedagogy, and ethos in terms of the field’s relationship to two key social locations, the liberal arts and the public university. Proposals are invited for papers and presentations on this theme. The organizers are particularly interested in the following topics: the intersection or disjunction of religious studies methods with the fields of humanities and social sciences; what religious studies contributes to liberal education; disciplinary ethos in the context of public universities bound by the First Amendment; the public university as fertile context for religious studies as an analytical discipline; history of religious studies at public universities; curricular and pedagogical challenges of religious studies in both liberal arts and public university contexts; the departmental model and its alternatives, especially the presence of religious studies as part of multidisciplinary departments; the articulation of the value of religious studies in an age of austerity; and particular challenges for religious studies in online or hybrid pedagogy. Proposals falling under the conference title but not specifically listed here will also be considered. Please send proposals (250 word maximum) by email attachment to Professor Rebecca Raphael at rr23 at txstate dot edu by January 31, 2015. The conference will be held April 10-11 at Texas State University, San Marcos, TX. Sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts, the Department of Philosophy, and the NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor in Humanities.

Books of Interest: Religious Discourse in Modern Japan

Isomae Jun’ichi, Religious Discourse in Modern Japan (Brill 2014).

Religious Discourse in Modern Japan explores the introduction of the Western concept of “religion” to Japan in the modern era, and the emergence of discourse on Shinto, philosophy, and Buddhism. Taking Anesaki’s founding of religious studies (shukyogaku) at Tokyo Imperial University as a pivot, Isomae examines the evolution of this academic discipline in the changing context of social conditions from the Meiji era through the present. Special attention is given to the development of Shinto studies/history of Shinto, and the problems of State Shinto and the emperor system are described in relation to the nature of the concept of religion. Isomae also explains how the discourse of religious studies developed in connection with secular discourses on literature and history, including Marxism.

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