ISASR Conference 2019

Eighth annual Conference of the Irish Society for the

Academic Study of Religions (ISASR) 2019

Friday, October 11, 2-7.30 pm; Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin

 We are pleased to invite scholars to take part in the eighth annual conference of the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions (ISASR), themed

The Stuff of Religion –

Senses, Matter and Technology in the Study of Religions

Keynote Address:

Kim Knott, Professor of Religion and Secular Studies at Lancaster University, UK:

“Religious Matters in Security Policy and Practice –

producing and exchanging expert knowledge”

Call for Papers:

In recent years, material and aesthetic approaches have been established in the Academic Study of Religions, responding in diverse ways to the previous dominant view of religion as texts, belief systems or a singular mode of “religious experience”. Accepting that religions are danced, sung, felt and tasted just as much as they are thought, read and believed, has inspired the development of a range of perspectives, which focus on the role of the body and the senses; materials and objects; and practices and technologies in religious contexts.

The challenges of handling sensory data have stimulated new methodologies, and analysing the “politics of perception” has been acknowledged as a crucial way to understand how religious representations interact with social orders. It is often not the beliefs or arguments, which spark conflicts, but rather the height of a building, the use of a symbol or what people wear. Uncovering the mechanisms of place-making, affective responses and sensory regimes elucidates the involvement of the religious and the secular in the dynamics of communal living.

Emphasising the sensory and material aspects of religious activities, however, does not mean that texts and beliefs are considered unimportant. Rather, recent theoretical efforts have been pursuing the question how narratives and experiences are related to one other and how matter and form; cognition and culture; experience and narratives interact in the framework of social and biological conditions.

We invite proposals for papers, which address themes related to, but not confined to the following topics:

  • The study of objects in religious contexts
  • Things, Practices, Values
  • Handling things: production, (de)composition, interaction
  • History, Memory and Material Culture
  • Cultivating Bodies, Senses and Experiences
  • Politics and Economies and (religious) Aesthetics
  • Literature and Material Culture
  • Religion and technologies (old and new)
  • Challenges and Opportunities of Aesthetic and Material Approaches: theories, methodologies and interdisciplinary perspectives

Call for papers: Please submit a proposal in the form of a title and an abstract (<250 words).

Call for slam contributions: We also invite ‘slam’ contributions for a maximum duration of 7 minutes, giving a lively impression of a project, in-progress work, publications, research networks or new programmes. Please submit a title and brief description of your slam (< 150 words).

Submission: via email to by the deadline of Friday 13 September 2019. Notification of abstract/slam acceptance will be given by 25 September 2019.

Please bear in mind that papers should contribute to the aims of ISASR as set out in the Society’s constitution, specifically that ‘The main object [is] to advance education through the academic study of religions by providing a forum for scholarly activity (…). The Society is a forum for the critical, analytical and cross-cultural study of religions, past and present. It is not a forum for confessional, apologetical, interfaith or other similar concerns’.

The final programme will be posted on the ISASR website:

Attendance will be FREE; please register by email to Dr Alexandra Grieser

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