CFP: RADICAL/IZED RELIGION: Religion as a Resource for Political Theory and Practice

Hannah Strømmen and Thomas Lynch are organizing a conference at Chichester University entitled “RADICAL/IZED RELIGION: Religion as a Resource for Political Theory and Practice” that may be of interest to readers of the blog. The keynotes for the conference are Torkel Brekke, S. Sayyid (whose Recalling the Caliphate was the focus of an AUFS book event), Yvonne Sherwood, andØyvind Strømmen. I have copied the CFP below, but you can check out the conference website for more information about the keynotes and scope.

Questions of radical and radicalized religion are at the forefront of conversations in the media as well as academic discourse. These conversations include concern about religious extremism, secularism and a reinjection of religion into politics following the post-secular “turn to religion”. Phenomena such as the Christian far right and Islamism are widely discussed but often as separate phenomena. In the UK, schools are required to teach students about citizenship, ethics and religion. At universities, academics are required to report extremist activities as part of the Prevent Strategy. Ostensibly about rooting out “radical Islam”, the law is applicable to a range of political and religious beliefs. These recent issues highlight the difficulty of understanding the connection between religion, the public sphere and political dissent. The boundaries between activism, radical politics and extremism are blurred. Is there sufficient room for Islam to motivate political activism without risking condemnation as extremism? With the on-going debates over Europe’s borders and the resurgence of far right political movements in Europe, why are some expressions of religious rhetoric deemed acceptable aspects of “our” political identity and heritage while others are rejected as extremist? How do we more broadly understand the relationship between religious belief and political activism, between religion and radicalism, and the place of religion as politicized practice in the public sphere?

By bringing together different disciplinary perspectives – political science, biblical studies, philosophy of religion, anthropology and sociology amongst others – this conference examines the intersections between religion and politics in contemporary society, focusing on how such intersections foster concepts of citizenship and ranges of practice from political activism to extremism. In analysing the logics, narratives and prejudices explicitly and implicitly used to sort activism from extremism, we will investigate alternative ways of thinking about the connection between religion and politics.

Questions conference participants might address include (but are not limited to):

  • How is religion being interpreted, appropriated and reinvented in order to mobilise political change in contemporary society?
  • How might we differentiate between religious activism and extremism?
  • Are there patterns for political uses of religion that are shared across different religious affiliations (such as sacrifice, martyrdom, holy/just war)?
  • How do notions of citizenship inform interpretations of religious identity?
  • In what ways do religions become a way of conceptualizing citizenship?
  • In what ways are governments responding to extremism, particularly regarding the role of religion?
  • Are issues of race and gender inextricably caught up in discourses of religion in relation to political change?
  • How do we understand the “post-secular” in light of religions in the political sphere?
  • In what ways does the far right utilize religion to form conceptions of “self” and “other”?
  • How do labels such as “Islamism” delineate particular spaces for political Islam at the exclusion and obfuscation of other forms of Muslim practice?
  • What are the differences and similarities between far right and far left attitudes to, and uses of, religion?

We welcome contributions from theology, religious studies, biblical studies, philosophy, history, law, literature, politics, sociology and anthropology.

Please submit 300 word abstracts to

Panel proposals are also welcome and should include 300 word abstracts for each paper and a 300 word explanation of the rationale.

Please note: the deadline has been extended to 14 April 2017.

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