Nonreligion and the Secular:
New Horizons for Multidisciplinary Research
Call for Papers| 4-6 July 2012, Goldsmiths, University of London
Conveners: Lois Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org), Stacey Gutkowski
(email@example.com), and Stephen Bullivant
Conference Coordinator: Katie Aston (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Following decades of neglect, the academic study of nonreligion has
grown rapidly in the past five years. The primary aim of this
conference is to bring together scholars across a range of academic
disciplines (sociology, anthropology, theology, political science,
psychology, history, international relations, area studies) to begin to
untangle the confused and individually contested concepts of nonreligion
and the secular. Is nonreligion a subcategory of the secular or vice
versa? How do the two terms structure one another? What are the
practical and theoretical implications of the concepts, such as they are
and/or in alternative formulations? The aim of this international
conference is to contribute to addressing this lacuna. . While
discussions of nonreligion and the secular have been running largely in
parallel, they are potentially mutually enriching topics with
significant bearing outside of the academy. This conference will
consolidate the achievements already made over the past five years by
nonreligion scholars and forge new, multidisciplinary dialogue between
these researchers and those primarily working with the concept of the
secular. This conference will bring together a range of internationally
renowned scholars, including keynote speakers Gracie Davie (Exeter),
Callum Brown (Dundee), Monika Wohlrab-Sahr (Leipzig), and Humeira
Iqtidar (King's College London).
The conference engages with a historical moment in which forms of
religion and nonreligion have increasingly asserted themselves in the
public sphere, in non-Western as well as Western settings. In the case
of radical Islamism and New Atheism, such assertions have had powerful,
sometimes inflammatory and divisive affect. This urgent wider social and
political context demonstrates the urgency of a reasoned, global,
scholarly contribution, aimed at further theorising and conceptualising
nonreligion and the secular, individually and in relation to each other.
This conference will interrogate three dimensions and welcomes both
empirically- and theoretically-based paper contributions which address
1) Nonreligion as a concept in its own right
What is meant by the term "nonreligion"? How does it manifest itself in
the lives of individuals and in collective social activity and identity?
Is it the most appropriate term to encompass a range of phenomena and
where may its parameters lie? What is the relationship between
nonreligion and modernity? Is nonreligion a resonant category outside of
2) The nonreligious in relation to notions of the secular
How do nonreligion and the secular mutually constitute one another?
Under what historical social and political conditions did the rise of
secularism and secularity facilitate the appearance of the nonreligious?
Does the emergence of the nonreligious indicate a new phase of modernity?
3) The implications of nonreligion research for pressing social and
political issues associated with discussions of the secular
What bearing does nonreligiosity have on social, political and legal
questions about social cohesion and multiculturalism? To what extent do
the "harder" forms on nonreligion breed intolerance and fundamentalism?
What are the implications of nonreligion for the possibility of
democratic consensus and governance? To what extent do secular political
landscapes outside of the West involve or even require the presence of
Publication Outcome: We are planning to publish a selection of the
papers presented at the conference in an edited volume.
The deadline for abstract submission (250 words max) is 27 April 2012.
Please send your abstract together with a short biographical note to
Katie Aston at email@example.com