Call for Papers: The Life and Legacy of Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Movements in Scholarly Perspective

29-30 May 2017
Antwerp, Belgium

Organized By  The European Observatory of Religion and Secularism (Laïcité) in partnership with Faculty of Comparative Study of Religion and Humanism (FVG), CESNUR and CLIMAS (Bordeaux)
Venue Faculty of Comparative Study of Religion and Humanism (FVG) Bist 164 – B-2610 Wilrijk-Antwerpen.  Belgium. Tel.: +32 (0)3 830 51 58.   E-mail: info@antwerpfvg.org www.antwerpfvg.org

2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Exposition of the Divine Principle, written by Sun Myung Moon (1920-2012), founder of the Unification Church that has its roots in South Korea (1954). Since that time, the Unification Church—or Unificationism/Unification Movement(s), among other names and affiliated organizational entities—has spread worldwide and expressed itself in a variety of international contexts. The original Unification Church is a case study of a new religious movement that claims Christian roots but contains a unique and evolving theology, set of practices, and community life that set is apart from the majority Christendom (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox traditions). In this way it may be comparable to say Mormonism or Christian Science, though of course the Unification Movement has its origins outside the United States, and not surprisingly most of its members reside in Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and throughout East Asia. With the death of Rev. Moon in 2012, the Unification Church has fractured and a number of  rival groups—in addition to dozens of smaller schismatic groups—now claim to be the rightful heirs of the founder’s theological mission and institutional
legacies. 

Thirty-three years after the publication of Eileen Barker’s groundbreaking book The Making of a Moonie (Oxford, Blackwell Publishers, 1984), we invite religious studies scholars to join us in Antwerp to focus on the Unification Church and Movement(s)—their evolution and possible transformations— over the course of 60+ years of existence.

The list of topics below is not exhaustive:
• – Evolution of the governance of the Unification Church/Movement(s),
• – Organization and associated groups,
• – Membership: numbers, growth, sociological profile. International expansion,
• – History, theology, and practices, iconography,
• – Perception in the world as a South Korean-born new religion,
• – Judicial issues addressing its status; prosecution in certain countries,
• – Impact on humanitarianism, art and culture in general,
• – Media relations and media coverage,
• – Influences in popular culture,
• – Relationship with the broader society.

Practical Information :

  • Language of the conference: English.
  • Send a 10 line abstract, with a 5 line résumé of your previous work to:
    Régis Dericquebourg, Associate Professor at the FVG and President of the European Observatory of Religions and laïcité (secularism) redericq@netcourrier.com and/or to Bernadette Rigal-Cellard, Professor at Université Bordeaux Montaigne, Vice-President of the Observatory. bcellard@numericable.fr and /or Massimo Introvigne : maxintrovigne@gmail.com and/or Donald Westbrook :  westbrook@humnet.ucla.edu and/or Chris Vonck : fvg.faculteit@skynet.b 
  • Papers will be considered for publication, with editorial details given during the conference. It is understood that each presenter must submit his or her
    paper first to the organizers for possible inclusion in the conference proceedings. When submitting the abstract, please inform the committee whether the paper has been submitted for review or publication in another venue. 
  • Registration and Transportation
    Registration Fee: 100 euros and 10 euros for each lunch.  Students: 30 euros and 10 euros each lunch.
  • There are many hotels in Antwerp and a few in the nearby town of Mortsel, which are discoverable online, and each attendee should book directly. FVG is located off of a bus line to downtown Antwerp.
  • Proposal Deadline:  February 28, 2017

Scientific Committee:

• Régis Dericquebourg, Associate Professor at the FVG and President of the European Observatory of Religions and laïcité (secularism), France and Belgium. Groupe de sociologie des religions et de la laïcité (Paris,CNRS)
• Massimo Introvigne, CESNUR, Torino, Italy
• Bernadette Rigal-Cellard, Professor in North American Studies, Université Bordeaux Montaigne, member de CLIMAS (Culture et littératures du monde anglo saxon), France
• Chris Vonck, Professor in Religious Studies, Dean of the Faculty of Comparative Studies of Religions, (FVG), Wilrijk (Antwerpen), Belgium
• Donald A. Westbrook, Professor and Mentor of Research Team, Faculty of Comparative Studies of Religions (FVG), Wilrijk (Antwerpen), Belgium; and Lecturer, University of California, Los Angeles, USA