The inter-play and relationship between religions and politics is a topic of immense contemporary significance. In many parts of the world, religion has a profound influence on the conduct of governments, on political dialogue, and on a range of issues which are the subject of often heated and violent controversy. It is necessary only to mention Northern Ireland, religious regimes in the Middle East, so-called fundamentalist movements of several kinds, the survival of the Christian Churches within Communist states, the role of Catholicism in Latin America, bitter debates about abortion and sexuality, and the so-called religious right in the United States. There have been states which have defined themselves as theocracies and others which have deliberately denied a place to religious belief and religious activity. Others allow religions but do not accord them any position in the political system.
The inter-action of religion and politics is a well-nigh constant feature of human history. It is a central strand in both religious and political thought – the two cannot indeed often be easily separated. Law and religion are also often intimately associated; in some societies indeed they have been and are more or less the same thing. The central objective of the Conference is to tackle these problems on a broad comparative scale, seeking papers dealing with the subject across all major religions and from different types of society. Papers from all chronological periods will be welcomed. The organisers want very much to create a programme which is wide-ranging in content and deals as fully as possible with all major religions.
Questions which might inform proposals for papers and sessions include:-
• What place does religious thought give to politics and political activity?
• How far in practice can the policies of governments be determined by religious agendas?
• How far does the impact of religious belief on politics differ from one religion to another and from one region of the world to another?
• Why and how far has religion been a source of conflict?
• How significant are one-issue religious groups in their political impact?
• In what ways has the impact of religions on politics changed over time?
• How far can religious change be an agent of political change?
These questions are provided primarily as examples of possible subjects. The organisers welcome all proposals which can be seen to fit with the broad objectives of the Conference.
Sessions for postgraduate students were for the first time a feature of the Anglo-American Conference in 2005. We very much want to repeat this in 2006, as well as to include papers from postgraduate students in other conference sessions.
Date: 5-7 July 2006
Venue: Institute of Historical Research, University of London, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU
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