What, when & where
Religion and Economics: Tradition, Reform, Revolution
16th April, 2020 to 17th April 2020
11th Annual Department of Religion Graduate Students Conference at University of Toronto
Religion and Economics do not only intersect as disciplinary fields, they also overlap at every conceivable level from the family home to the global market. Recent works in anthropology, religious studies, and cultural studies, alongside the currently exigent expansion of political theology into economics, all point toward the urgent need for more and increasingly diversified dialogue alongside exploration beyond the limits and furrows of these pre-existing conceptual fields. Some of us continue to think along the social-scientific lines of an ‘economics of religion,’ adhering to the heritage of Max Weber. Others invert their inquiry, as Walter Benjamin once did, to examine a ‘religion of economics’ (i.e., “Capitalism as Religion.”) In any case, religion and economics—or, if you prefer: religion as economics, religion or economics, religion versus economics—all continue to impose both distinctive and combined challenges to 20th Century ‘secularization’ narratives and the traditions from which these narratives have developed. We invite works that will help to renew and reposition our frameworks for asking what the relation between religion and economics is, has been, and should or should not be in future. We also especially welcome work that will help us to push against and beyond historically dominant Western and Christian resources for theorizing the practices tied to ongoing developments and crises that shape our mixed fields of study. We welcome multi- and interdisciplinary works from fields including anthropology, classics, economics, history, literature and theory, political science, philosophy, sociology, queer studies, accessibility studies, and religious studies (including but not restricted to Jewish studies, Near- and Middle-Eastern studies, Islamic studies, South Asian studies), and more!
1.Religion and Economics ‘After’ Comte, Marx, and Weber: Globalization and finance-based capitalism have changed the scope, categories, and concerns that were once proper to the grand narratives of ‘religion and economics’ as a combined topic. What are the theories and methodologies, new or old, which are now most crucial to bring in as interventions to this historically over-determined interdisciplinary relation? Where are these interventions best situated—in the academy, in the newspaper, in the field, in the house of worship, in the household, or still elsewhere?
2.Tradition, Transmission, and Take-over: How does the transmission of tradition, religious or cultural, affect our academic and everyday discussion of economic realities? Is the historical evolution of ‘economics’ from a model of household organization to a supra-political global paradigm for self-authorizing exercise of power really a purely ‘secular’ or ‘non-partisan’ development? And, is the concept of a ‘take-over’ itself restricted to narrow economic models, or does a more radical shift of vocabulary—to ‘revolution,’ for instance—encompass more than this? How does a conversation about this play out in multi-faith, multi-cultural dialogues?
3.Reinterpretation and Revival: Are there resources in religious traditions that have been lost or overlooked in recent academic and public-square efforts to symptomatize and diagnose current economic crises? Rather than attempt to universalize, can we speak boldly about the virtues of particularistic contemporary and/or historic religious attitudes towards distribution, possession, use, and/or exchange of goods, equity, sharing, etc.? However counter-intuitive the question may appear: Does religion need more rather than less influence on our attitudes and practical orientations towards economic problems?
4.Education, Environment, and ‘Everyday’ Economics: How do our contemporary religious and/or economic senses of belonging, security, and aspiration affect our attitudes and presupposed limitations when we assess ourselves in the contexts and environments in which we now find ourselves? How does our own situatedness in a faith-based or non-faith-based position, in the university, in the West, in the midst of an environmental catastrophe inform or change our inherited expectations of religious or economic stability? Are we in a position to ask the ‘right’ questions of religious and economics here? now? What are the dialogical, phenomenological, or (meta-)critical strategies involved in any attempt to share or distribute the balance of our present circumstances and future stakes?
Deadline & how to apply
Please send your paper proposals to Alexa Winstanley-Smith and Stephanie Duclos-King at firstname.lastname@example.org by 28th Februrary 2020, including the following information: (1) title of your paper, (2) name and institutional affiliation, including department membership, (3) contact details, (4) abstract of 150-200 words, (5) a brief bibliographical note (80-100 words) that gives us a sense of who you are and what you do.