The Graduate Committee for the Study of Religion at the University of Texas is currently accepting paper proposals for its second annual interdisciplinary graduate student conference:
New Models for the Study of Religious Synthesis
April 4-6, 2014
The University of Texas, Austin, TX
The keynote speakers for this conference are:
Professor of Religion and Aurelio Chair in the Appreciation of Scripture at Boston University
Professor of Religion at Princeton University
Religions mix. Scholars of religion have employed a variety of terms to describe the processes and results of religious mixing, including syncretism, hybridity, creolization, bricolage, transculturation, and blending. Although some of these terms are useful conceptual tools, at root they replicate problematic binaries or reduce religious mixing to contagion. Many of these terms have scurrilous histories of application, often to silence marginalized voices, impose unity, and fortify institutional power. The debate over terminology—even when used “neutrally”—detracts from the creation of more nuanced models of religious synthesis. A new approach is needed.
In order to overcome this terminological impasse, we suggest adopting a placeholder term—such as ‘mixing’ or ‘synthesis’—for the dynamic process of religious interchange. We are interested in models of religious mixing that attend to diversity without replicating troublesome binaries. Pure forms—if they ever existed—are relegated to the mists of early pre-history. Religions are heterogeneous constellations of historically contingent components from the start. Such an approach can attend to the agency of individual religious authorities and practitioners, the power-laden discourses that belie and constitute the process of mixing, and the competition between these discourses.
We welcome papers suggesting new models for the study of religious mixing, drawing on data from all time periods and geographic locations. Topics to consider include, but are not limited to: Hellenistic Judaism, Roman evocatio, religions of late antiquity, the three teachings in China, religions in the Atlantic world, Japanese new religions, theosophy, Unitarian Universalism, and global Pentecostal movements. Participants are expected to use evidence from their areas of specialization to inform a more general dialogue about terminological and theoretical problems and horizons in the study of religious mixing.
Please send paper titles and abstracts (300 words or less) to RemixingReligion@gmail.com by November 27th, 2013. Please include your name, institutional and departmental affiliation, and email address.
Katharine Batlan (Religious Studies)
G. Anthony Keddie (Religious Studies)
Ross P. Ponder (Religious Studies)
Aren Wilson-Wright (Middle Eastern Studies)
Sponsors: The Department of Religious Studies, The Center for Middle Eastern Studies, The Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins, The Graduate School, The Department of Middle Eastern Studies, The Department of History
G. Anthony Keddie
Ross P. Ponder
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