Some money has come through, and I’m very pleased to be confirming I’ll be going to the 2015 World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions in Erfurt, Germany, this August. The full line-up has just been announced, and I’m giving papers in two panels.
First, Conspiracy Theories in Contemporary Religious Discourse, with Mattias Gardell, Asbjorn Dyrendal and Beth Singler (and although I’m listed as Chair, Egil Asprem will actually be doing the honours):
Academic interest in conspiracy theories has grown in recent years, as it has become apparent that they are a central locus for contemporary debates over power, democracy and rationality. Some scholars have noted the intersection between conspiracy theories and contemporary religious narratives (Goodrick-Clarke 2002; Barkun 2003), but there has been no sustained critical analysis of the field, nor theoretical models through which to interpret the multiple and complex interrelations. This panel is intended to help define the boundaries of this developing field and outline avenues for future research. How is conspiracy discourse promoted and/or combated within religious communities? Which resources are drawn upon in such struggles over meaning and influence? What are the common epistemological features of religion and conspiracism, e.g. belief in occluded agencies? Might we usefully analyse conspiracy theories as a modality of religious thought and practice, e.g. as soteriology, theodicy or esoteric hermeneutics?
Second, After World Religions, with Chris Cotter, Craig Martin, Teemu Taira and Russell McCutcheon:
The World Religions Paradigm (WRP) has been subjected to sustained and rigorous critique in the academic study of religion for many years. However, in spite of this critique becoming an established part of the Religious Studies (RS) corpus, one area in which the WRP has proven especially resilient is in pedagogy, and in particular in introductory courses on ‘religion’. This panel brings together the editors and three contributing authors of the forthcoming volume After ‘World Religions’: Reconstructing Religious Studies (Routledge 2015), to operationalize this critique and offer concrete, practical alternatives for use in pedagogical contexts. In addition to presenting viable approaches which avoid, problematize and subvert the WRP, these papers offer a broad range of innovative theoretical and methodological strategies, and directly address the pedagogical challenges presented in different departmental, institutional and geographical contexts.
On top of that, I’ll be recording interviews and taking part in all sorts of other activities for the Religious Studies Project, and other things which I’ve yet to finalise. But most exciting is the chance too socialise with people I’ve only met online, and to present my research to the global academic community.
BREAKING NEWS: What’s this…?