We are looking for speakers from any discipline who could contribute to a panel on Distinguishing “Religious” from “Economic” at a major conference on Religious-Secular Distinctions at the British Academy on 14-16 January 2010. The panel for which we are seeking speakers is:
Panel 4. Distinguishing “Religious” from “Economic”
How does “religious” get distinguished from “economic” in historical and contemporary contexts, and to what effect? The distinction is far from obvious – the value of capital may depend, for example, on collective acts of faith. But economists, businesses, workers, consumers, politicians and lawyers all invest heavily in religious-economic distinctions. It was proposed in a previous conference that the category of “religion” understood as other-worldly faith and supernaturalism has served to set in relief the “secular” rationality of individual self-interest, commodity exchange and capital accumulation. That may indeed be a crucial chapter in the history of religious-secular distinctions. But it also seems that different people make different religious-economic distinctions in different contexts. The panel will examine a range of contexts in which “economics” gets marked off from “religion”, including in the history of the discipline of Economics.
Please find attached the draft programme for the conference or download it from http://religioussecular.ning.com. Briefly, the conference as a whole has the following focus:
How and why do people – politicians, academics, teachers, journalists, clergy, lawyers, entrepeneurs – distinguish between “religious” and “non-religious” or “secular”? And what happens when they make such a distinction? It matters, after all, whether a museum exhibit is considered cultural or religious; a crucifix on a necklace is deemed an expression of faith or a fashion accessory; shari’a law is regarded as integral to Islam or as another lawcode; a particular state is classified by Europe as secular or not; a minority is viewed as religious or ethnic; and a PhD thesis is considered religious or just about religion. The fact that religious-secular distinctions are contextual raises the tricky question of whether scholars should use “religious” and “secular” as analytical categories. However, we decided to focus instead on a different question - how religious-secular distinctions work in particular contexts. The conference builds on a series of workshops and related events that have brought together scholars from religious studies, anthropology, history, theology, philosophy, sociology, political science, economics, education and legal studies.
Email Trevor Stack firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible if you are interested, and certainly by the deadline of Friday 25 September.
Please forward this call to anyone who you think might be interested!
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