Transnational Communities Programme

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New Religions and Globalization: Theoretical and Methodological

Hosted by the Danish network RENNER (Research Network on New

Ebeltoft, Denmark, September 23-26, 2002.

RENNER invites leading scholars in the history of religions, theology,sociology of religion, psychology of religion, and other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences to contribute their reflections on important aspects of globalization processes with regard to new religions and new religiosity.

Please send the preliminary title of your paper, an abstract (max. 20 lines), and a brief CV (max. 5 lines) by email to the following address: Deadline is March 15, 2002.

Registration and further information can be found at our website:

Theme of the conference
Globalization is currently a pivotal theme in cultural studies whether approached as a reflection of world economy and power dynamics, new possibilities of communication and cultural exchange in the light of mass media and technology, increased cultural plurality following migration or as a combination of any of these.

The process of globalization and its influences on cultural dynamics raise questions of vital importance for various disciplines in cultural studies.The study of religion is one such discipline that is trying to deal with the challenge of globalization in its theoretical and methodological reflections. Religious ideas, practices and ways of organizing and communicating are (and have always been) constantly in the process of finding their place between continuity and change, between being transformed and innovated, and yet claiming to be traditional and original. However swiftly the world seems to be changing, groups and individuals continuously attempt to produce more or less coherent worldviews, organize themselves accordingly and communicate with the world at large.

Many new religions are, or claim to be, deeply rooted in a local tradition or cultural environment while others seem to identify themselves as global and transcultural. In fact, the rise and spread of many new religions and new religious movements seems to be closely identified with globalization. No religion, however, is without local roots, and, equally, no religion is separate from global development.

Approaching the study of new religions by means of globalization theories and methodologies will hopefully function as a platform for meaningful exchange between scholars.

The conference will consist of 6 sessions introduced by keynote speakers who are specialists in the topic of their session.

Session 1: Globalization Theories Evaluated

Different theories on globalization processes and consequences have produced different tools and approaches. This session will evaluate the different theories and methodologies in terms of their adequacy and productiveness in the study of new religions.

Session 2: Globalization Organization and Religious Mobility

How does globalization influence the organization and management of new religions and how can these issues be studied? Globalization has added new perspectives to the study of religious mobility, be it a result of migration or because ideas, practices and traditions 'migrate' out of their original contexts and are transformed and innovated by new practitioners in new cultural contexts.In this session, theories on religious mobility will be explored as well as the interrelatedness of local and global culture, center
and diaspora, networking, religious centers without physical location, and changes and innovations in the organization and management of new religions.

Session 3: Global Technology and Mass Media

Some of the issues that characterize globalization and religion, in a number of theoretical perspectives, are the influence of new technology and mass media. This session focusses on the new medias and the new modes of communication that seem to influence religions and religious activities.

Session 4: Religious Interaction in a Global Context

In a globalized world where migration, for instance, leads to the meeting and confrontation of religions, how do religious individuals and groups interact? Multiculturality is a growing factor in many countries with the result that new communities and new religions (or old religions in new cultural and geographical settings) challenge the 'old order'. This plural situation affects the interaction of religious groups and individuals, ranging from confrontation to interreligious dialogue and, in some cases, symbiosis. This
session will deal with theoretical consequences and models.

Session 5: Globalization in Historical Perspective

While some scholars see globalization as a modern, or even postmodern, cultural phenomenon, others claim that globalization premisses and processes have a long history. What constitutes globalization in a historical perspective and when can a cultural, social, or religious phenomenon be said to be influenced by such premisses and processes? Are there historical periods which give us an analytical advantage in the study of new religions and globalization?

Call for papers

We invite scholarly contributions to the above mentioned topics. Even though papers do not necessarily have to be theoretical treatises, they should address the theoretical issues and methodologies of the topic chosen. Purely descriptive papers will not accepted. Please send the preliminary title of your paper, an abstract (max. 20 lines), and a brief CV (max. 5 lines) by
email to the following address:

Deadline is March 15, 2002.

For registration and futher information, please visit our website at

Armin W. Geertz
Professor, Dr.Phil.
Department of the Study of Religion
University of Aarhus, Faculty of Theology
Taasingegade 3, DK-8000 Aarhus C


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