International Doctoral Conference
in Religious Studies 2022
CESAR - Central European Symposium on the Academic Study of Religion's
Annual PhD Conference
Transformations of Religions in Times of Crises: Spiritual Alienation and Rethinking of Ethics (CESAR 2022)
1-3 September 2022
Pardubice, Czech Republic
Organized by Host Institution
Together with Partner Institutions
Center for Religious Studies
Central European University
Department of Religious Studies
Centre for the Study of Religion
Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem
About this Event
Through the centuries, human societies have faced various crises such as wars, famines, natural disasters, or political and economic breakdowns. Despite reactions emerging within societies can be of different origins, most of them touch basic dimensions framing society’s foundations. Among them, one of the most significant is the sphere of religion and spirituality.
In such troubled times, the legitimacy of religious worldviews is questioned. This tension has the capacity to exhibit double dynamic of spiritual alienation and unification. While crises have the capability to trigger a collapse of former value-systems and religious narratives in search for new and alternative ones, they can also result in various kinds of reviving processes and spiritual activities, thus countering the development of alienation. Well-established religions remind their warnings and prospects in hope of connecting with those who seek solace. New distinguished spiritual personalities share their ideas and offers of salvation. Multiple conspiracy-beliefs share their perspectives with the broader secular public reacting to all the above by either approval or denial.
During this double process of transformation of belief systems, tensions resulting in debates on human behaviour and co-existence in the world emerge among societal sub-groups. In other words, questions of ethics and morals gain a crucial importance. How to understand others and ourselves? How shall we go about relationships among individuals and communities? Should we be thinking in terms of a shared humanity or rather in that of societies fragmented into particular unrelated groups? What kinds of behaviour can be observed as results of these standpoints? To name just a few.
Shall these rather general problems be seen from the Study of religion perspective, following questions arise: How different religious groups perceive each other in times of crises? Do they favour ideas concerning shared core among religions or rather emphasise each one’s uniqueness? What reactions can be observed among these groups? In this process, tensions between religious and secular domains about human behaviour and co-existence in the world grow stronger. Religious communities’ question scientific reliability, while at the same time scientific approaches discredit religious narratives and imperatives. However, countering this, a cooperation of religious and secular spheres can be observed as well.
These and similar problems are not of course limited to the contemporary era alone but stretch across history. To name just few examples, one can think of destructions of important religious places such as the Jewish First and the Second Temples, the Christian Church of Holy Sepulchre or north Indian Nalanda monastic university causing immense turns in specific cultural settings. A spread of plagues in mediaeval Europe affected religious milieus of the time by new challenges for the church to overcome such as a question of role of lay-women in parishes or how to answer flagellant movements. Contemporary COVID-19 pandemic provokes a comparison of human reactions to challenges imposed by the current pandemic and the medieval ones while today the situation is accelerated by vital spread of information via social media. Political upheavals are often linked with turbulent religious changes as observable in Spanish history with the collapse of Cordoba caliphate and subsequent Reconquista period, in modern Sri Lanka where Tamils and Singhalese use Hindu and Buddhist motives to defend their stands and in China whose strong communist regime discredits any traditional communities whether Tibetan, Uyghur or others.
The conference aims to open a symposium where topics concerning transformations of religions during times of crises are discussed with a special focus on religions’ responses to the dynamics of spiritual alienation and unification, which often results in rethinking of ethics.
Call for Papers
Kindly find attached (below) the Call for Papers with additional information.
We are planning the conference as an on-site event at Pardubice University in Pardubice, Czech Republic. However, due to the uncertainty of how long the Covid-19 Pandemic will last, for health and safety reasons, we may have to hold the event in a hybrid or on-line form. Please stay tuned for updates.
If you would like to participate as a member of the audience, please contact us with your query at the e-mail address provided below.
For further information, please contact Vilém Skopal, head of the PhD organizational team, by e-mail at 1st.CESAR.firstname.lastname@example.org.