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Religion in the Local and Global: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Challenges
BASR 2015

Programme & Abstracts
University of Kent

7th-9th September 2015


Monday 7th September
12.00 Registration (Welcome Desk/ Conference Suite Entrance) & Buffet Lunch (Darwin Suite 1)
13.00 Welcome: Main Room (Darwin Suite 2/3)
13.30-15.00 Panel Sessions 1:4 Parallel Rooms (see panel session list)
15.00-15.30 Tea Break (Darwin Suite 1)
15.30-17.00 Panel Sessions 2: 4 Parallel Rooms (see panel session list)
18.00-19.00 Meal (Rutherford)
19.30 Social Time & Drinks (Darwin- Origins Bar): including 50 Years of the Study of Religion Bar Quiz With Chris Deacy

Tuesday 8th September
8.30-9.00 Coffee (Darwin Suite 1)
9.00-10.30 Plenary 1: Plenary Discussion: The Future of Religious Studies (Joint BASR & TRS-UK Event): Chaired by Steven Sutcliffe (BASR President-Elect) and Jolyon Mitchell (TRS-UK) (Darwin Suite 2/3)
10.30-11.00 Coffee (Darwin Suite 1)
11.00-12.30 Panel Sessions 3: 3 Parallel Rooms (see panel session list)
12.30-13.30 Buffet Lunch (Darwin Suite 1)
13.30-15.00 BASR AGM (Darwin Suite 2/3)
15.00-15.30 Tea (Darwin Suite 1)
15.30-17.00 Panel Sessions 4: 4 Parallel Rooms (see panel session list)
17.30-18.30 Meal
18.30-19.30 Drinks Reception for University of Kent 50th Anniversary Booklet (Darwin Suite 1/2/3)
19.30 Keynote Address: Professor Peter van der Veer (Max Planck Institute, Göttingen, Germany) “Religion and the City: A Comparative Perspective on Asia and the Rest” (Darwin Suite 2/3)
21.00 Social Time in Darwin, Origins Bar
Wednesday 9th September:
8.30 Coffee (Darwin Suite 1)
9.00-10.30 Panel Session 5: 3 Parallel Rooms (see panel session list)
10.30-11.00 Coffee
11.00-12.30 Plenary 2: Professor Mia Lovheim (Uppsala University, Sweden) “Religion and Mediatized Publics” (Darwin Lecture Theatre 1)
12.30-13.30 Lunch and Finish (Darwin Suite 1)
Post Conference Session:
14.00-15.00 TRS-UK AGM (TRS-UK Event) (Darwin Lecture Theatre 3)

Panel Session List
PANEL SESSION 1: 13.30-15.00 (Select from 4 sessions)

1.A. Religion, Globalization and Theory Chair: Jeremy Carrette
(Darwin Suite 2: Main Room)

  • Eileen Barker (London School of Economics / INFORM) “Here, There and/or Anywhere? Minority Religions and their Migration In and Out of Britain”

  • Jessica Frazier (University of Kent) “Gadamer, Religion and Globalism”

  • Richard Roberts (University of Stirling) “Is grand theory possible? Globalisation and the shamano-ritual complex”

1.B. Evangelicals & Global Christianities Chair: Anna Strhan
(Darwin Suite 3)

  • Kit Kirkland (University of St. Andrews) “Detached as Never Before: The Autonomy of American Millennial Christians and the Politics of Generational Succession”

  • Alan Le Grys (University of Kent) “The Alpha God: The Impact of Old Testament Models of God on Continuing Christian ethics”

  • S. Jonathon O’Donnell (SOAS, University of London) “Sacred Selves, Satanic Societies: Clashing Agencies in American Evangelical Conspiracism”

  • Meadhbh McIvor (London School of Economics) “‘Pressing Beyond the Fringe’: Conservative Evangelical Reflections on Publicity, Preaching, and British Reserve”

1.C. Religion, Ethics and Policy Chair: Bettina Schmidt
(Darwin Lecture Theatre 1)

  • David Dark (Belmont University) “Policy Is Liturgy Write Large: The Ploughshares Movement & Other Raids on the Sacrosanct”

  • Gordon Lynch (University of Kent) “The Uses of Ethics: The Role of Humanitarian Sentiment in the Suffering of British Child Migrants”

  • Beatric Nuti (Pisa, Italy) “Religion and industry: Adriano Olivetti

  • Donovan Schaefer (University of Oxford) “Only Better Beasts: Globalisation, Affect, and the American Controversies over Darwinism”

1.D. Religion in Time, Space and Place Chair: Chris Deacy
(Darwin Lecture Theatre 2)

  • Feyza Sacmali (Marmara University, Turkey) “Myth or reality: Is there a connection between Anatolian Alawites and Medieval European Heresy?”

  • Krittika Bhattacharjee (Edinburgh University) “Everyday places deemed special: ‘fresh impressions from the field on visitorship on Iona’

  • Abdul-Azim Ahmed (Cardiff University) “God’s House – space sensitive ethnography”

  • Sandra Maurer (University of Kent) “Negotiating the Qur’an: Practising Islam in a secular environment – a female students’ perspective”

PANEL SESSION 2: 15.30-17.00 (Select from 4 sessions)

2.A. Asia, Religion and Global Issues Chair: Jessica Frazier
(Darwin Suite 2: Main Room)

  • Richard King (University of Kent) “From “Mystic East” to “Eastern Spirituality”: Colonial Legacies in an Age of Corporate Globalization”

  • Stephen Jacobs (University of Wolverhampton) “Hanging Out with the Guru: The Role of Digital Communications in the Art of Living Foundation”

  • Ting Guo (University of Oxford) “Cosmopolitan Spirit, National Identity, and Liberal Theology: An Episcopalian “House Church” in Shanghai”

2.B. Religion in the Public Square Chair: Jeremy Carrette
(Darwin Suite 3)

  • Julia Berger (University of Kent/Bahai International Community, UN)“A New Politics of Engagement: The Baha’i International Community and the United Nations”

  • Christopher Cotter (University of Lancaster) “(Non)religion and the Public Square: Discourse, Indifference and Hegemony”

  • Liam Sutherland (University of Edinburgh) “Religion and National Identity in the 21st Century Scottish Public Eye: Representation, Heritage, Diversity and the National Norm”

2.C. Religion, Ethics, and Economic Life
Conveners: Anna Strhan and David Henig, University of Kent). Session 1 Chair: David Henig
(Darwin Lecture Theatre 1)

  • Laurie Denyer Willis (McGill University) “’Economic Evangelism': Women’s Small Business in Rio de Janeiro’s ‘informal peripheries”

  • Mark Read (University of Birmingham) ‘There’s nothing in my job that stops me being a Quaker.’ Quaker work-life responses to the ‘austerity’ of the Coalition government

  • Fran Handrick (University of Birmingham) “The Curious Case of Amish Women in Multi-Level Marketing Businesses”

  • Anna Strhan (University of Kent) “‘God is not a communist’: Conservative Evangelicals and the ‘love of money’ in London”

2.D. Defining Religion: Interdisciplinary Perspectives Chair: TBC
(Darwin Lecture Theatre 2)

  • Suzanne Owen (University of Chester/Leeds Trinity) “Defining Religion through Charity Law”

  • Richard Saville-Smith (University of Edinburgh) “Introducing a Model of ‘Disruption’ to the interdisciplinary debate between the Study of Religion/s and Psychiatry”

  • Chris Deacy (University of Kent) “Why Category of Religion Debates Matter: A Case Study of Christmas as a ‘Secular’ Religion”

  • Claire Wanless (Open University) “Embeddedness in Postmodern Religion”

PANEL SESSION 3: 11.00-12.30 (Select from 3 sessions)

 3.A. Global Bodies, Sexuality & Religion Chair: Bettina Schmidt

(Darwin Suite 2: Main Room)

  • Nicole Zaneti (Universidade Católica de Brasília- UCB, Brazil) “Sexuality and Women’s Spirituality: A Study with Tai Chi Chuan”

  • Sarah Harvey (University of Kent) “A Religious Studies Perspective on Natural Childbirth: A Global Ideal Versus An Individual Plan”

  • Richard Amesbury (University of Zurich) “Is the Body Secular? Circumcision, Religious Freedom, and Bodily Integrity”

  • Shaunna Calpin (University of Oxford) “Contemporary Witch Hunt: Making the Unintelligible Intelligible”

3.B. ROUNDTABLE: Religion and Non-religion in London: Class and Power in the Secular City Chair: TBC
(Darwin Suite 3)

  •  A roundtable discussion on Lois Lee’s Recognizing the Non-religious: Reimagining the Secular (OUP, 2015) and Anna Strhan’s Aliens and Strangers? The Struggle for Coherence in the Everyday Lives of Evangelicals (OUP, 2015)

    • Roundtable discussants:
      Abby Day (University of Kent),
      Mia Lövheim (Uppsala University),
      Dawn Llewellyn (University of Chester),
      Paul-François Tremlett (Open University)

3.C. Global Positions of Yoga Chair: Richard King
(Darwin Lecture Theatre 1)

  • Suzanne Newcombe (London School of Economics) “Yoga, Ayurveda and Immorality: The Case of Swami Ramdev”

  • Karen O’Brien-Kop (SOAS, University of London) “An Intertextual Reading of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra: Localized Contexts of Production and Global Challenges of Interpretation”

  •  Theo Wildcroft (Open University) “Wild Things and Fallen Angels: An Epistemological Struggle in the Evolution of Physical Practice”

PANEL SESSION 4: 15.30-17.00 (Select from 4 sessions)

4.A. Local and Global: Migration, Boundaries and Performance Chair: Abby Day
(Darwin Suite 2: Main Room)

  • Moojan Momen (Independent) “From Local to Global: An Examination of the Spread of the Baha’i Faith”

  • Anna S. King (University of Winchester) “Crossing Boundaries: The Liberation Spiritualities and Ethics of the Dalai Lama and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar”

  • Graham Harvey (Open University) “Indigenous Performances in the UK: Ceremony or Entertainment?”

4.B. Pilgrims, Pentecostals and Postcolonial Christians in Africa and Asia: An Ethnographic Exploration
(Conveners: Jonathan Miles-Watson and Sitna Quiroz, University of Durham)
Chair: Alan Le Grys
(Darwin Suite 3)

  • Jonathan Miles-Watson and Sitna Quiroz (University of Durham) “Rupture or Redress?
Processional Ritual, Identity and the Everyday lives of Christians in Africa and Asia”

  • Iracema Dulley (London School of Economics) “Iterations of Christianity:
Catholic and Protestant Missions in the Central Highlands of Angola”

  • Iliyana Angelova (University of Oxford) “Postcolonial Conversions and the Construction of Difference in the Indo-Burma Borderlands: An Ethnographic Study of Identity Formation in Northeast India”

  • Seth Kunin (University of Aberdeen) “Japan’s Kakure Kirishitans:
Mediating Structures and Conflicting Identities at the Nagasaki Matzori”

4.C. The Political Values of Religious Studies
(Convener: Steven Sutcliffe, University of Edinburgh) Chair: Richard King
(Darwin Lecture Theatre 1)

  • Steven Sutcliffe (University of Edinburgh) “After Smart: from liberalism to the rebel alliance”

  • Paul-François Tremlett (The Open University) “Darwinism makes it possible”: Religion, Progress and the Conquest of Nature

  • Jeremy Carrette (University of Kent) “The Politics of Objects: Commodification, Objectification and Religious Things”

4.D. The Church of Scientology: Doctrine, Practice and Rebellion
Convener: Stephen Gregg (University of Wolverhamption) Chair: TBC
(Darwin Lecture Theatre 2)

  • Donald A. Westbrook (Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, USA) “Keeping Scientology Working”: Systematic Theology, Orthodoxy, and Heresy in the Church of Scientology

  • Aled J.Ll. Thomas (Open University, UK) “Scientology Beyond the Church: The Practice of Auditing in the Free Zone”

  • Stephen E. Gregg (University of Wolverhampton, UK) “Scientology Inside Out: Complicating Religious Identity in Global Scientologies”

PANEL SESSION 5: 9.00-10.30 (Select from 3 sessions)

5.A. ‘Religion and Culture in Scotland: New Practices in Local Contexts’
Convener/Chair: TBC
(Darwin Lecture Theatre 1)

  • Marion Bowman (Open University) “Pilgrimage in Scotland: Recovering and Reframing a Land of Lost Content”

  • George D. Chryssides (York St John University) “A Scottish View of Jehovah’s Witnesses: A Study of Cultural Outsiders”

  • Steven Sutcliffe (University of Edinburgh) “‘Life Reform’ in the Early Twentieth Century: A Scottish Example of a European phenomenon”

5.B. Fiction in the Study of Religion: Three Case Studies
Convener: Ethan G. Quillen (University of Edinburgh)
Chair: TBC
(Darwin Lecture Theatre 2) (University of Stirling) “Is Cassandra a true believer?”

  • Clement Grene (University of Edinburgh) “The Jesus of History and the Christ of Literature: Literary Approaches to Historical Jesus Research”

  • Ethan G. Quillen (University of Edinburgh) “An Atheist Gospel: The Quest for the Fictional Jesus and the Gospel Novel as Atheist Discourse”

5.C. Religion, Ethics, and Economic Life (Session 2)
Conveners: Anna Strhan and David Henig, University of Kent).
Chair: Anna Strhan

(Darwin Lecture Theatre 3)

  • Shaheed Tayob (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious Diversity, Gottingen) “Feeding the Customer: ‘Sufi Food’ and the Ethics of Care and Responsibility in a Mumbai Restaurant”

  • Petra Kuppinger (Monmouth College) “Mosques and Supermarkets: Faith, Space, Economy and Urban Renewal in Germany”

  • Ingrid Storm (University of Manchester) “Does economic insecurity predict religiosity? Evidence from the European Social Survey”


Panel Session 1.A

Religion, Globalization and Theory Chair: Jeremy Carrette
(Darwin Suite 2: Main Room)

  • Here, There and/or Anywhere? Minority Religions and their Migration In and Out of Britain

Eileen Barker London School of Economics / INFORM
Religious beliefs and practices have travelled around the world since before the days of the silk routes. This they continue to do, with new inventions, be these printing, air travel or the World Wide Web, facilitating the exchange of ideas with an ever-increasing speed to an ever-increasing extent. Taking contemporary Britain as a case study, this paper examines the wide variety of both foreign and indigenous minority religions to which it plays host, considering the diverse ways in which the movements have changed since their founding, and how, why, where and when such changes occurred. Factors that are both internal and external to the religions will be explored, and, in an effort to suggest where generalisations might be posited (and when they might not), some attempt will be made to consider how at least some of the variables might (or might not) be related. Questions to be addressed include: ‘Which sort of new religions are liable to globalise, be it through such means as migration, missionary activity or the mass and social media?’ ‘What kind of a demand might there be – that is, what might attract potential converts, and to what extent are the beliefs and practices of the imported religion negotiable?’ ‘How do such factors as the social/political situation (state regulation, anti-cult sentiment, media reception, and other aspects of the existing culture) affect the receptivity of migrant religions?’ and ‘What are the available alternatives, and to what extent is there satisfaction with the status quo?’

  • Gadamer, Religion and Globalism

Jessica Frazier, University of Kent
Having seen Nationalism at its worst, whilst preserving his own ideal of a Platonic realm in which all minds meet and interweave to shape new landscapes of thought, Gadamer sought in his later years to shape a new 'globalism'. Using the models of a collaborative artwork, a healthy organism, a constructive classroom, or the rich play of poetic language, Gadamer's 'Positive Globalism' stressed complex and creative forms of unity.


Redefining networked autonomy, affirming dependence (rather than dominance) as a creative tool, and rethinking selfhood at the core, this is a Post-Heideggerian global ontology. It speaks to Foucault's critiques, Giddens' model of structuration, and to Zygmunt Bauman's notion of nomadic liquidity, as well as to Deleuze, Badiou and the emergence of network theory, and to John Ralston Saul's ideal of soft nations with creative values.  But we see in this paper that it was meant not only to guide the West politically, but also to provide the foundation for spiritual life - that is, for Gadamer's own 'Sublime' vision of the vast whole of our shared (and ongoing) cultural life.

  • Is grand theory possible? Globalisation and the shamano-ritual complex

Richard Roberts, University of Stirling
As a pioneer in the application of globalisation theory to the study of a religious event (see ‘Globalized Religion? The Parliament of the World's Religions [Chicago 1993] in theoretical perspective’, Journal of Contemporary Religion, vol. 10, 1995, pp. 121-37), I am concerned to find a way of correlating globalisation theory with the manifold of categories to be confronted across the field of religious studies. Both ‘globalisation’ and theories of ritual have their discrete conceptual histories; my aim in this paper is to draw together these two dimensions in the interests of developing a unified theory of human emergence applicable to the fields of religious studies - and ‘theology’. Utilising the synchronic conceptual motif of ‘transcendental deduction’, classically developed in the second edition of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, we seek to frame the history of the conceptual representation of globalisation from critiques of imperialism, through development theory and world system theory to the conceptualisation of the ‘glocal’ matrix, and draw this into dialogue with Roy Rappaport’s diachronic theory of ritual in his posthumously published masterpiece, Religion, Ritual and the Making of Humanity (1999). In sum, Rappaport’s life-work can be understood as a cumulative argument for a human ecological vision in which sustainability at all levels of analysis is integral – and in which ‘ritual’ is foundational to the attainment of such integrity. Yet the reality is that such humane vision would appear to be overwhelmed by multiple crises and the pathologies associated with globalisation, environmental degradation – and with ‘religion’ itself. The latter might indeed be the ‘making of humanity’, but it is now in danger of being its unmaking. How might we recover and re-frame the making - and resist the breaking?

Panel Session 1.B

Evangelicals & Global Christianities Chair: Anna Strhan
(Darwin Suite 3)

Kit Kirkland, University of St Andrews

For the past forty years America’s evangelical Christians have been tied to Republican party. Appealing to conservative Christian values through what Domke and Coe labeled the ‘God Strategy’ the Republicans successfully mobilized the voting resources of this ‘base’ to push Bush to consecutive victories in 2000 and 2004.1 In the run up to 2016, the power of this hybrid relationship or as Laderman terms ‘Republicanity’ is once again in evidence as Republican nominees attempt to court evangelical Christians who make up to a third of the American electorate with a countercultural Christian platform.2

This appeal nonetheless is based on baby-boomer relations, premised on a shared vision of America. As ‘Generation Y’ or the ‘Millennials’ take the tiller of America’s future, there is evidence that this once foregone relationship may be passing; as a selective, skeptical form of religiosity in politics takes hold amongst the younger generation. Based on qualitative evidence gathered from five Christian colleges in America’s North East and Mid-West in 2013, this paper suggests millennial Christians are seeking greater autonomy from the political tribalism that characterized their parents faith engagement. Though the life issues of abortion and homosexual marriage have been inherited, their concerns remain just that, there is little to suggest they want to exercise their faith publically through the narrow agenda propagated by the Republican machine. Backing Hout and Fischer’s findings that millennial Christians are seeking greater autonomy from party politics with freedom from labels, the paper suggests millennial Christians share the political disenfranchisement of their secular peers. 3

Along with the waning tribalism this generational succession presents, the paper also examines the retrenchment amongst American evangelical millennials towards domestic matters over international affairs, probing what this international void may hold for America’s foreign relations, and the nature of America’s engagement with Israel and the Middle East that defined boomer concerns.

  • The Alpha God: the impact of Old Testament models of God on continuing Christian ethics Alan Le Grys, University of Kent

Christian values and practices are typically said to be the product of a dynamic process of reflection on scripture, tradition and reason; yet a growing number of voices in recent scholarship have begun to challenge the way in which underlying assumptions embedded in both the Bible and tradition reflect archaic notions of patriarchy and hierarchy that continue to exercise a significant influence over Christian ethical thinking. The most obvious example would be the challenge of feminist interpretation from Mary Daly to Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, but other contributions include the critique of atonement theory as ‘divine child abuse’ by Joanne Carlson Brown and Carole Bohn and the study of disturbing images of God in the Hebrew Bible by Eric Siebert. This paper will build on this emerging critique and focus specifically on the issue of sexuality in the Hebrew Bible. It will argue that the perceived incompatibility of sex and the divine owes less to the purity concerns commonly associated with it and more to a classical understanding of God as an ancient oriental tyrant, a jealous God who requires absolute submission and obedience. In the presence of this God, all other males (in particular) are seen as a potential threat to divine power and sovereignty. This model of God as the great dictator is certainly modified in the Christian tradition through the ‘Christological filter’ used to read the Hebrew texts; but even so, the New Testament carries over many of these basic assumptions, allowing the underlying Hebrew understanding of God to continue to influence Christian thinking, often at an unspoken level. The paper will thus conclude that a radically new biblical hermeneutic is required to rebuild Christian ethics – a fundamental rethink around the way the biblical tradition is appropriated in a rapidly changing social environment.
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