Category Archives: Sociology of Religion

Religion and Popular Culture

Official words of a new book:Possamai, Adam (2005) Religion and Popular Culture: A Hyper-Real Testament, P.I.E.-Peter Lang, Bruxelles.

Book synopsis: Popular culture can no longer be exclusively seen as a source of escapism. It can amuse, entertain, instruct, and relax people, but what if it provides inspiration for religion? The Church of All Worlds, the Church of Satan and Jediism from the Star Wars series are but three examples of new religious groups that have been greatly inspired by popular culture to (re)create a religious message. These are hyper-real religions, that is a simulacrum of a religion partly created out of popular culture which provides inspiration for believers/consumers. These postmodern expressions of religion are likely to be consumed and individualised, and thus have more relevance to the self than to a community and/or congregation. On the other hand, religious fundamentalist groups tend, at times, to resist this synergy between popular culture and religion, and at other times, re-appropriate popular culture to promote their own religion. Examples of this re-appropriation are Christian super-hero comics and role playing games, Bible-based PC games, and ‘White Metal’ music. To explore these new phenomena, this book views itself as the ‘hyper-real testament’ of these new religious phenomena by addressing the theories, among many others, of Baudrillard, Jameson and Lipovetsky, and by exploring the use of fictions such as those from Harry Potter, The Matrix, Star Trek, Buffy and The Lord of the Rings.

Contents: Contents: Sociology – Popular Culture – Hyper-Reality – Religion – New Religious Movements – Religious Fundamentalism.

Superbowl is a religious ritual

Here is a basic Durkheim-ian analysis of the Superbowl. There is actually a quite decent volume of literature explaining US sports as religion in anthropological and sociological terms. The author appearently is oblivious to them, but it is always nice to discover something on your own. Even if you learn later that lots of people before you already did it.

CFP: Religion, Seculairsm, and cultural studies

The Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies, a referred academic journal dedicated to publishing cultural studies scholarship from both established and emerging scholars, is currently soliciting submissions for an upcoming special issue on:RELIGION, SECULARISM, AND CULTURAL STUDIES

Guest Editors: Lori Branch and Everett Hamner

Culture may be, as Raymond Williams informs us, “everyday,” but as it is reified in cultural studies practice, it is rarely religious. The Blackwell Companion to Cultural Studies (2001), for instance, uncovers not a hint in 579 pages or a detailed index that religion operates in culture at all: no prayer, no yoga, no Religious Right, abstinence campaigns, televangelism, no daily practice of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. And this, despite the daily news, world politics, and a cadre of critics hailing the “return of the religious” to critical discourse. In her Presidential Address to the Modern Language Association in December 2003, Mary Louise Pratt proclaimed the urgency of the interdisciplinary study of religion in our literature departments. “Who can doubt today,” she asked, “the need to study secularism and religiosity from every viewpoint we can muster?” As Stanley Fish has recently pointed out in The Chronicle of Higher Education, the distinctions between reason and faith, truth and belief, have been increasingly called into question in culture and academia, and religion promises, in his words, to “succeed high theory and the triumvirate of race, gender, and class as the center of intellectual energy in the academy.”

This special issue of The Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies seeks to speak in and to cultural studies’ silence on religion and secularism, and to gain a critical perspective on that silence and the reasons it has existed. This issue will explore the conversations that can take place between cultural studies and highlight the new outpouring of work from a variety of critical perspectives that points toward vibrant engagement in the coming years with the historical study of the mutual transformation of religion and secularism in modernity.

We solicit submissions on any aspect of religion, secularism, and cultural studies, from any time period, literature, or media, and particularly those that implicitly or explicitly address the following questions: What would a cultural studies approach to religious texts, behaviors and artifacts look like? How would this affect or challenge “secular” cultural studies? What is at stake in the secular portrayal of everyday life created by the silence surrounding religion in cultural studies? How can recent critical studies of the emergence of secularism in modernity?

Please submit papers no later than 7/1/05 to:

Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies

308 English-Philosophy Building

University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA 52242-1492

Two hard copies of the manuscript and a disk, preferably in Microsoft Word, should be provided. Manuscripts cannot be returned unless a self-addressed envelope with US postage is provided. Submissions should be no longer than 30 pages and should be prepared following the MLA Style Manual.

For more information about contributing or subscribing to this journal, please contact the managing editor at . The journal’s web site, which includes excerpts from previous issues, editorial board and other information, is at: .

Religion and Politics in the Age of Globalization

17 – 18 March 2005, MexicoIt took me a while to find details, but even then the titles of the sessions are in Spanish. I understand though the themes:

  • Religion and border
  • Knowledge and rituality in the religious tradition of the indian towns
  • Religous markets and mass media
  • Ethics and policy in the compemporary religiosity
  • Religious minorities in the age of globalization
  • Etnicity , post-colonialism and religion
  • Influence of the religion in the political processes
  • Religion in a world post-modern
  • Religion, civil society and political legitimacy
  • Religion and public space
  • Multiculturalism and tolerance
  • Popular religiosity and resistance
  • Laicity, culture and national identity
  • Reproduction of the religiosity in the transnational contexts

Social Context of Death Dying and Disposal

From an email:We are pleased to announce that the University of Bath will be hosting the 7th International Conference on the Social Context of Death Dying and Disposal from 15-18th September 2005.

The conference covers all social aspects of death, dying and loss. It is a multi-disciplinary residential conference for anthropologists, archaeologists, art and architectural historians, artists, bereavement counsellors, cultural geographers, deathwork practitioners, historians, literary theorists, medical and health practitioners, palliative care workers, philosophers, psychologists, students of religion, social policy analysts, sociologists and those in the legal professions.

Plenary speakers will be Robert Kastenbaum (University of Arizona, USA); Tony Walter (University of Reading, UK); and Nigel Hartley (St Christopher’s Hospice, UK).

This international conference will be held in the World Heritage city of Bath. A social programme is planned including an evening wine reception in the flood-lit Roman Baths.

300 word abstracts for conference papers are invited on any subject pertinent to the social context of death, dying and disposal. Proposals for posters and work-in-progress sessions are also welcome. These should be sent, by 1st March, to the organisers at the mailing or email address below.

Further details of costs and booking information are available on the website at: or by contacting the organisers: ; +44 (0)1225 386852

Address for abstracts: Dr Glennys Howarth, Dept of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7AY, United Kingdom. ( +44 (0) 1225 386852) Email:

CFP: Religion and Inequalities in a Global World

7th Conference of the European Sociological Association (ESA) Torun, Poland, September 9th-12th, 2005Rethinking Inequalities
Research Stream
Religion and Inequalities in a Global World
Call for Papers Various forms of inequalities through History

Through History, forms of inequalities have been diverse and seem to be ever increasingly extensive. While ancient forms of inequalities, based on status (honor) or on gender, may not have disappeared, modern societies, promoting the value of individualism i.e. equality and personal freedom, seem to generate new forms of inequalities : those based on socio-economic level, racial criteria, and new ones found on personal dignity, for example those who perceive themselves as minority groups’ (invalids, sexual orientation, new religious movements or ethno-religious groups, etc…).

The global world seems to favour or reinforce these inequalities. Globalization is characterized by a double-faced mobility : migrations from developing countries towards the ‘North’ are caused by aspirations to improve one’s economic status, when factory delocalisation to the ‘South’ is oriented to biggest profits and may reinforce poverty in developing countries. Besides, through a larger circulation of ideas and goods, globalization allows comparisons between different situations, hence new aspirations to equality between groups or individuals from World diverse regions.

How does Religion adress these inequalities ?

Religion is traditionally preoccupied with poverty, disease, aspirations towards equal recognition, giving expression to these aspirations, assisting underpriviledged people, explaining/justifying unequal situations. How do religious groups adress the diminishing capacities of the Welfare State in rich societies and ever growing inequalities between them and other societies ? For instance, we can observe in some countries new alliances between Orthodox or radical Islamic groups and anti-globalization groups. In other places, fundamentalist or charismatic groups create new structures for assistance to distressed people, either mentally or economically. Other examples may be suggested.

Can we interprete the weakening of secular professional assistance structures and the growing intervention of religious groups, specifically in health care, as a ‘de- secularization’ process ? If we also take into account the contradictory evolution of religious groups towards dominant values of general society, how is this convergence interfering with this trend ? How do religious group maintain and recompose their identity ?

Two thematic sessions, each of 2 hours, will be organized (4-5 papers in each one). Some topics are proposed here, but other themes may be suggested.


Deadline for submitting an abstract is February 28th 2005.

Abstracts should not exceed 200 words. Notification of acceptance will be sent by March 31th 2005.

Martine Cohen, (Groupe de Sociologie des Religions et de la Laïcité) 59-61 Rue Pouchet – 75017 PARIS – FRANCE

Faith’s Public Role: Politics and Theology

Received via email:

Faith’s Public Role: Politics and Theology
Cambridge, 6-8 April 2005
Von Hugel Institute
St Edmund’s College

Religion’s social and political significance is re-emerging in new and dramatically diverse contexts, from the Jubilee 2000 to religiously inspired terrorism. This impacts on public policy at virtually all points.

This conference explores, from a wide range of academic disciplines, the relationship between religion and politics, and will discuss the new perspectives required to meet the challenges of today’s world.

Invited Speakers:

Prof. William T. Cavanaugh (University of St Thomas, St Paul, MN)
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (Archbishop of Dublin)
Prof Tomas Halik (Charles University, Prague)
Dr David Lehmann (University of Cambridge)
Dr Mona Siddiqui (University of Glasgow)

Prof Henri Gagey (Paris )
Prof Kenneth Medhurst (Bradfor)
Dr Patrick Riordan (Heythrop)

Registration and Programme:

Modern Religion in 2005

Got it in an email:

Dear Colleague,

Our Institute for State-Church Relations intends to prepare a monograph under the name Modern Religion in 2005. For this reason, we are expecting Your and/ or Your colleagues’ essays (30-40.000 characters) written in English in the following subject:

The goal of this project is searching for answer to a question: ‘Does religiosity peter out of modern society or just gains new forms’? We try to find how traditional religions adapt to postmodern time, what kind of religiosity (not closed to traditional religious forms) we can find nowadays. A lot of actual religious forms do not seem like religious but basically, they are a secular form of religiosity.

We would appreciate your contribution to this publication in the form of an essay reflecting the above-mentioned issue. As we deal with the multidisciplinary problem we expect contributions from the sociological, religious studies, theological or any other relevant point of view.

The abstracts of the essays should be sent until 21 February to the following e-mail address: . The whole contribution is to be submitted until 15 June, 2005, which should be sent to the same address. If you had any questions, please, write to . All authors shall, of course, obtain one (or more) copy of the book.

Best regards,

The Editors

Lucia Grešková, Silvia Jozefèiaková

Institute for State-Church Relations tel: +421 252 733 236 fax: +421 252 733 236

Tsunami victim: SoR scholar

It was confirmed that a professor of Sociology of Religion who visited a few years ago my school, UCSB, was amongst the victims of the tsunami. Iskandar was a professor of the sociology of religion and political Islam from the State Institute for Islamic Studies Ar-Raniry (IAIN) in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.

Iskandar, who used only one name, came to the university though the UCSB Fulbright Summer Institute of Religion, a six-week academic program for university faculty from abroad to come to the United States to study a particular theme or topic in American society. The program’s director, Holly Grether, said in an e-mail that Iskandar died in the recent tsunami along with his wife and two of their three children. Iskandar was a professor of the sociology of religion and political Islam from the State Institute for Islamic Studies Ar-Raniry (IAIN) in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.