CFP: “Religion and the Encounter”



“Religion and the Encounter”

The notion of an encounter is a broad one, but a relevant one in current times. The 21st century is still having to come to terms with how we handle, process and understand the encounters we have and those that are recounted to us by others. We see this clearly in the ongoing debates over and events relating to further travels into space, the commodification of the ‘outer reaches’, immigration, detention of migrants, the position of women in society, ownership of women’s bodies and rights, trans rights, LGBTQAI activism and presence, the use and misuse of disabled bodies within political arenas and policy making, the taking the knee protests, and Black Lives Matter. We encounter different people and beings in different ways, but ultimately all encounters force us to think and rethink the concept of “the stranger” and thus what it means to be human. (Sara Ahmed, 2000) They also force us to continually re-evaluate and re-think what we mean when use category descriptors such as ‘religion’ and ‘secular’.
Of course encounters also occur with the academy and through scholarship, neither of which are immune or removed from the ‘stranger’. Those who undertake interdisciplinary work often have to navigate difficult encounters and find themselves continually positioned as a ‘stranger’ or within a ‘strange land’. The field of religious studies often seeks to bring the rituals, mores, beliefs and personage of the ‘stranger’ they encounter into understood paradigms (sometimes whether they fit or not) that are often Western in origin / domination and thus somehow end their ‘strange(r)ness’, raising the important question of how would the field change if we changed our paradigms? Within every encounter lies the potentiality for rejection, opposition and destruction, but also acceptance, welcome and growth. Encounters matter in a very real sense.
The 42nd Implicit Religion conference aims to explore the various aspects of the encounter and the encountered experience. What are the consequences to an encounter – for the body, community, culture, law, language, scholarship, social change, justice, space and exploration? In what ways do institutions (educational, religious, museums, cultural centres and places of business) interact with, shape or reinforce encounters and their impact(s)? To what extent can Implicit Religion enter into and contribute to encounters in ways that can be helpful / meaningful? How can encounters help to improve Implicit Religion as an academic field within religious studies and as a set of analytical tools?
Presenters are invited to submit abstracts for consideration on the theme of “religion and the encounter”. These might include but are not limited to:
•    Religious phenomenologies of the stranger
•    Religion and urban encounters
•    Religion and colonial / postcolonial / decolonial encounters
•    Encountering the future (AI, transhumanism, scientific, medical and technological innovations in contemporary religious life)
•    Encountering the inexplicable or unexplained
•    Encountering the new
•    Encountering resistance
•    Encountering consumption
•    Encountering space
•    The (mis)use of religious practices, myths, and rituals for developing viewpoints on encounters with gender and non-gender, race, class, disability etc.


Those seeking to present a full paper should submit a 500 word (max) abstract using the ‘Attend the Conference’ tab on the website. Please note the focus of the paper must be on Implicit Religion for the abstract to be successful. We particularly welcome submissions by students – undergraduate and postgraduate, early career academics, under-employed academics, under-represented academics, those working outside of academia, and those working within multi or interdisciplinary fields. Abstracts must be submitted by 28th February 2019 and all submissions will be notified by the 5th March 2019. If your abstract is successful you will be expected to submit a full paper via email to all participants by 5th May 2019. At the conference you will have 10 – 15 minutes to summarise or ‘speak to’ the main points of your paper and 30 minutes for discussion. The focus is not on the delivering of the paper, and presenters should not simply read their paper to the audience, rather the emphasis is on confering and discussing the ideas. Please feel free to use power point etc, but keep the emphasis on summarising the main points of the paper, illustrating the arguments or fieldwork, and providing thoughts for discussion from your paper.

We will also have a scratch session, which is an opportunity for people to make a 4 minute presentation on works at the very beginning of development. It is not intended for works in an advanced stage of development or nearing completion. There will be a small number of proposals selected for this session and conversation will follow in relation to suggestions for developing the work further. This might be of particular help for final year undergraduate students, masters students and those in the early stages of the PhD, early career researchers and those working on grant bids. Those wanting to present at the scratch session are not expected to provide a paper in advance, they must, however, submit a 250 word abstract by 28th February 2019 using the ‘attend the conference’ tab on the website. All submissions for the scratch session will also be notified by the 5th March 2019. Please make it clear on your abstract that your paper is for the scratch session. Preference will be given to undergraduate, masters students and returning parents for the scratch session places.

Please note we are a small network and as such do not have the financial capacity to offer any funding for travel or conference costs. We are also not in a position to support visa applications beyond a letter confirming participation. Conference numbers are limited to 40 so if you know that you cannot attend without financial assistance please make that clear in your abstract submission and, if successful, we will work with you to ensure you can present via digital means / video conferencing. Similarly if you are in a caring position or role and cannot attend in person but would like to participate and receive discussion about your paper note that in your abstract and we will work with you on video conferencing and digital audience approaches. We welcome parents and families to the conference and encourage young parents and nursing parents to consider submitting an abstract and attending the conference with their infants and children – we will work to support your needs, and those of your children / family. We also welcome those with mobility or disability issues and will accommodate your needs throughout the conference. All are welcome and valued.