The Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture (IUPUI) and "Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation" are pleased to announce the upcoming Second Biennial Conference on Religion and American Culture. The conference will be held in the stunning new J.W. Marriott in downtown Indianapolis, June 2-5, 2011. Thanks to a grant from Lilly Endowment, conference participants will get rooms there at half the cost. (See: http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/indjw-jw-marriott-indianapolis/.)
The overarching theme of our second biennial conference is “change.” We are especially interested in changing understandings of both religion and culture, as well as the effects these changes have on a variety of ways of thinking about religion in North America. Most crucial is the change over the past few decades toward thinking about religion as it is expressed in everyday life, religion as lived experience.
We are planning a conference with three parts: two opening sessions on changing definitions of religion and what this means for its study, four topical sessions where we play out this question in specific research areas, and then two sessions on what the future holds (or may hold). This meeting, like the one in 2009, will be decidedly interdisciplinary in its makeup and tone.
Full announcements with panelists and information about registration and lodging will be forthcoming soon. In the meantime, please mark your calendars and plan to join us.
Part A: Changing What “Religion” Means
Session 1: What are our academic assumptions about religion? We hope to bring together people who work on religious experience with people who study lived religion and social scientists who do work on individual choice. Our goal is to consider the effect of newer, “from the ground up,” approaches to religious study on older, more traditional models that emphasize organizations and ideology.
Session 2: Revisiting the secularity/secularization question. Nowhere in the study of religion does the approach one take have a greater impact on the conclusions one reaches. Defined as institutions, organizations, and ideology, secularization seems apparent. Seen from the level of everyday life, religion is all around us. This is an excellent place to focus the conversation about what religion is and what this means to how we think about it.
Part B: Changing Religion in a Changing Culture
Session 3: Religion’s role in political identity. This one is intentionally broad and those that follow are not mutually exclusive. But recent political battles over sexuality issues or Islam and the Koran or heated partisan rhetoric need to be considered in terms of changing understandings of religion in American society.
Session 4: Religion’s role in immigration and globalization. In some ways a subset of Session 3, we want to focus the conversation on questions about the religious components of movement, particularly immigration, integration, and the impact of globalization on religion in American culture.
Session 5: Religion’s role in personal identity. This conversation was left hanging in 2009 and we want to re-focus attention specifically on new understandings of religion and what this says about shifting personal identities (including class, ethnicity, and gender).
Session 6: Market models for understanding religion. Somewhat of an outlier in this group, we believe economic models are now so widely used across the social sciences (and as an unquestioned metaphor in the humanities) that it would be impossible for us to ignore this as a key factor in changing definitions of religion in a world increasingly shaped by economic models.
Part C: Changes in the Future, Real and Imagined
Session 7: Changes in the understanding and uses of scripture. In 2011, the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible, we hope to use this session to forward the Center’s interest in changing attitudes toward scripture. Scripture, especially the Bible, continues to play a formative role in American life. If understandings of religion are changing, it stands to reason understandings of scripture are changing too. We want to think about why and how.
Session 8: The future of religion in America. This is a big question, but what is the point of assembling a group like this unless it is to take a step back and ask the big-picture questions from a variety of perspectives? Here we want to think about not only how the study of American religion is changing, but about how religious belief and practice are changing at the broadest level. How will technology change religion, or be changed by it. What sacred domains exist beyond what has traditionally been called religion? How will civil religion relate to traditional religion? At its core, this session is concerned with how people will be religious in the coming years.
Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Email: email@example.com Visit the website at http://www.iupui.edu/~raac/
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