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Call for Papers – Embracing religion as counter-conduct: Ethics and “political spirituality” among western youth

A 300-words abstract by July, 15th, 2020 sent to

Editor: Géraldine Mossière, Associate Professor, Institut d’études religieuses, Université de Montréal.

Studies on contemporary religiosity in Western secular contexts have emphasized either the political claims of emergent religious behaviours or the subjective processes that manifest under the umbrella-term of spirituality. In the first case, religious commitment, as well as religious change, display individual and collective positioning regarding public and societal issues, such as same-sex marriage, abortion, social justice and equity or racial discrimination. In the second case, the current individualization paradigm allows for new personal assemblages wherein religious resources are turned into tools for transcendence, introspection, or work on the self like shows the success of pilgrimages or new trends toward conversion.

Hermeneutical views provide other lenses for understanding the embrace of religious identification and the critiques these behaviours articulate against social and political norms. Foucault’s conceptual device regarding governmentality and disruptions of the governmental order are insightful in this regard. His concept of “counter-conduct” refer to «the desire to be conducted in another way, by other guides or shepherds, toward other objectives and other forms of salvation, as well as by means of other processes and methods» (2004 [1978]). In this context, religions might offer symbolic language for articulating and defending specific and sometimes alternative ethics. 

In this special review, we want to articulate Foucault’s idea of “political spirituality” as it relates to youths for whom religious change is a special inspiration for the transformation of the self and the contestation of prevailing and historical norms and values. The literature shows that while youths are more prone to test new social, political and symbolical experiences and disrupt dominant values and ethical chains, including religious change, such experimentation is also meant to convey new values and ideas. Youths are therefore often seen as vigorous forces of innovation and change in societies.

Contributions will consider youths’ religious behaviour, and more specifically their embrace of non-transmitted religions as specific ethics, as commitment to alternative or counter- social or political conducts. Papers will address following concerns:

  • How do religious practices and beliefs articulate transformations of the self? Through which mechanisms? By mobilizing and appropriating what kind of religious or spiritual resources?
  • Through these operations and negotiations, which personal, social and political desires blossom or are conveyed? How might we interpret spirituality in contrast to religion in this setting?
  • How does political spirituality unfold? How might religious beliefs and practices frame political, social and ecological alternative orders? What kind of ideological and political orders do such forms of religious counter-conduct convey? To what extent do these conducts display counter or alternative orders?
  • How might spiritual views of the self become integrated into specific patterns of community or sociality? How does political spirituality articulate other views of social justice and human dignity and respect? 
  • How do affect and temporality support and colour youth’ political spiritualities?

If you are interested in participating in this publication project, please provide:

  • Name(s) of all co-authors in full with academic title, name of institution, country, Academic/professional affiliation(s), Academic address(es), Telephone number(s), Email(s)
  • A 300-words abstract by July, 15th, 2020 sent to
  • Full texts will be expected (7000 words) by December, 15th, 2020