Category Archives: Seminars

Webinar: Freedom of Religion – Liberty in a Secular Society

Religious Freedom in Australia has long been taken for granted. Recent debates over social issues from Gay Marriage to Education have led to proposals for new legislation. As religious adherence in Australia diversifies and declines, is there need for a deeper conversation? What issues are at stake?Affinity proudly presents to you ‘Freedom of Religion: Liberty in a Secular Society’. Discussing their recently published books, retired bishop Robert Forsyth and Dr Joel Harrison will be in conversation with John Cleary.Time:7 pm – 8 pm Wednesday 02 December

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Make sure to register to Affinity’s upcoming webinar! Click here to Register

Online Symposium: British Muslims and COVID-19: Impacts, Experiences and Responses

Tuesday 8th December 2020, 1pm to 5pm

An MBRN online symposium via Zoom

Register here:

Full Programme available at:

Research on Covid-19 has highlighted its disproportionate impact on Black and Asian Minority Ethnic groups (BAME) communities (Public Health England, 2020). However, these studies only offer a limited understanding of the particularity of experiences within the umbrella category BAME. For instance, there is only limited discussion around faith in relation to Covid-19, its impacts and the socio-economic fall-outs of lockdown. This MBRN symposium will redress this gap by taking an intersectional perspective in mapping and analysing the impact of Covid-19 on British Muslim communities. By bringing together practitioners and academics, we will examine how diverse British Muslim communities have experienced the pandemic, how their lives have been impacted during and after lockdown and how they responded.
By focusing on the experiences of British Muslims, this online symposium will enable us to examine the interplay of ethnicity, religion and deprivation, in negotiating the particular challenges of living through Covid-19. It will explore the diversity of ways in which British Muslims have experienced and responded to Covid-19, and seek to understand its ongoing impacts. Our aim is to suggest answers for the question, “How are diverse British Muslims living through, and responding to the challenges of, Covid-19?”.
The symposium includes presentations from academics and practitioners from a range of epistemological positions and disciplinary standpoints to explore dimensions of Muslim identity / lived experiences in relation to the pandemic, lockdown and subsequent socio-economic implications of Covid-19 in Britain.
Eventbrite registration essential, please select your preference for the parallel session during registration so you can be pre-assigned to a breakout room.

Religious Healing and Sacred Health Curing: Online Documentary Film Program and Debate

The Network of the Anthropology of the Middle East and Central Eurasia of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) in collaboration with the Religion and Society Research Cluster, Western Sydney University are organising a new series of online biweekly documentary film presentations and debates regarding Religious Healing and Sacred Health Curing.

During our current complex situation caused by COVID-19, this program should be considered a unique platform for specialists of the field in which they will be able to watch collectively documentary films which in one way or another discuss the role of religion, religious rituals, sacred sites and material religion in religious healing and sacred health curing. The film presentations will be continued by a debate between the moderator, filmmakers and the specialists of the field.

Week 2: July 25, 2020 10:00 AM in London (7pm Sydney time)

Please join our second biweekly webinar (25 July 2020), documentary film presentation and debate organized by the Network of the Anthropology of the Middle East and Central Eurasia of EASA in collaboration with the Religion and Society Research Cluster, Western Sydney University.

Introduction to the program by Dr. P. Khosronejad (Western Sydney University), and debate by filmmaker Dr. R. Canals (University of Barcelona), researcher of film Dr. R. Sarró (University of Oxford) and discussant Dr. R. Blanes (University of Gothenburg).

Film presentation: Chasing Shadows
Roger Canals, 2019, 70 minutes, UK / Spain.


This film is directed by Roger Canals and filmed in Guinea-Bissau based on Ramon Sarró and Marina Temudo’s research, offers an intimate portrait of a prophetic movement. In Balanta, the movement is called Kyangyang, a word meaning “shadows”, although its followers also call themselves “Children of God”. The Kyangyang prophetic movement was born in the early 1980s among Balanta farmers in rural areas of Guinea-Bissau, after a period of ecological and political crisis and after a young woman called Ntombikte, who died in 2013, started to prophesize and heal after receiving messages from God through her ancestors. She had a massive following among young men and women. Much like the prophetess, her followers could communicate with their ancestors and then either transmit messages from the high God through prophetic art and writing, glossolalia, and divination or heal in collective and individual ceremonies.

This webinar will be held on Zoom.

To register please visit:

Inform Seminar [Online]: Sexual Abuse framed by Faith or Belief – Exploring boundaries and contexts

Wednesday 22 July 7-8:30pm (in London – British Summer Time)The next Inform seminar will be held online

Please register your attendance by making a voluntary donation to Inform from the link on the website here:

Please make sure that you share your contact details with Inform so that we can send you a link to the Zoom meeting. 

If you cannot make a donation at this time, but would still like to attend, please email directly.

Overview of the Seminar

Many of the cults and new religious movements of the 1970s were assumed to be awash with abusive behaviour. However, high profile cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have highlighted the pervasive potential of religious groups to be affected by behaviour understood as sexual abuse. This is a problem not confined to any particular religious context.

The dynamics of sexual exploitation of minors have now been well explored and safeguarding frameworks are becoming more standard. Are there lessons that can be learned from working with children which can be applied to situations involving adults?

In many cases abuse appears to be incidental to the theological and ethical frameworks; in other cases, the sexual activity has explicit justification within a belief framework that is later framed as abuse by outsiders or ‘survivors.’

Does the framing of the behaviour make a difference for understanding the harm caused? To what extent are concepts like ‘spiritual abuse’, ‘fraud’ or ‘moral injury’ helpful in understanding the dynamics of adult sexual abuse in religious contexts?

This online Inform seminar will consider the issue of sexual abuse occurring within religious contexts in hopes of identifying new ways of considering the problem and potential ways of mitigating harm. There will be a series of short presentations by speakers, followed by informed responses and then a general discussion.

 Confirmed speakers and respondents include: 

  • Eileen Barker, professor emeritus of sociology with special reference to the study of religion, London School of Economics
  • Leethen Bartholomew, head of the National FGM Centre at Barnardo’s
  • Amanda Lucia, associate professor, University of California-Riverside, USA
  • Gordon Lynch, Michael Ramsey professor of modern theology at the University of Kent
  • Lisa Oakley, associate professor of applied psychology at University of Chester and chair of National Working Group for child abuse linked to faith or belief
  • Michelle Tonkin, Rigpa whistle-blower and former Buddhist nun
  • Theo Wildcroft, visiting fellow, The Open University and
  • Belinda Winder, professor of Forensic Psychology at specialist sexual crime unit at Nottingham Trent University
  • Linda Woodhead, distinguished professor, department of politics, philosophy and religion, University of Lancaster

In the organisation of this seminar, we are grateful for the support of the Religion and Sexual Abuse Project, funded in part by the Henry Luce Foundation.

The event will be officially recorded by Inform. Guests may NOT record, film or take screenshots of the seminar without prior permission.

We hope that some of you can make the event! 

Call for Papers: The Sacred and The…Profanity – Online Symposium

8th September 2020

To submit a proposal, please send an abstract of approximately 200 words to: Dr Paul Martin: and Nicole Graham: by 15th July 2020.

Building on the recent growth of scholarship in the field of humour and religion, this interdisciplinary online symposium aims to bring together scholars from a wide range of fields to explore the multifaceted relationship between humour, obscenity, and religion, and to consider what happens when these worlds collide.

There are many examples that seem to support the view that religion and humour have a tense relationship; whether it be ‘comic’ representations of religious figures in the media, jokes about God, or films and television which focus on religion and morality that are considered blasphemous or offensive. These occurrences are often enthusiastically cast as a conflict between religious freedom and the right to dignity in belief, on the one hand, and freedom of expression and the right to offend, on the other. However, the intersection of humour, obscenity, and religion is much more complex than this, and this symposium invites participants to work through various aspects of this relationship. Of particular interest is the place of humour and the obscene in religion, the positive functions it can serve and ultimately its value. We want to ask: what role can humour play in the sphere of religion, and how comfortably? Even if joking might be allowed, can it ever truly fit in? Who decides on the value of humour for religion?

We welcome submissions which consider these, and other, questions in relation to a number of topics including, but not limited to:

  • Historical or contemporary examples of humour or obscenity in religion
  • Gendered experiences of laughter, humour, and joke-telling
  • Ritual
  • Joke-telling
  • Satire
  • The Media
  • Blasphemy
  • The usefulness of humour and the obscene
  • Limits of humour
  • The policing of humour

In addition to the panel of papers, the symposium will include a round table entitled: “Exploring Religion and Ritual in Humour and the Obscene”. Confirmed speakers for this round table are: Professor Bernard Schweizer (Co-Founder of the Humour and Religion Network), Dr Emily Selove (Senior Lecturer of Medieval Arabic Language and Literature), Dr Lieke Stelling (Assistant Professor in English Literature), and Dr Simon Weaver (Senior Lecturer in Media and Communications).

We welcome papers that address one of these themes in a 15-minute talk. The organisers will review all submissions anonymously.

All papers will be presented remotely and observed online. Each talk will be followed by a discussion.

Centre of Islamic Studies: ‘Muslims in the UK and Europe’ symposium for 2020 has been cancelled

University of Cambridge’s Centre of Islamic Studies ‘Muslims in the UK and Europe’ symposium for 2020 has been cancelled

It is with regret that we can confirm that this year’s ‘Muslims in the UK and Europe’ symposium has been cancelled. We had explored the possibility of taking it online but felt that the benefits of the symposium came largely from the professional and personal relationships formed at the event which would not be possible in an online setting. We hope to announce the ‘MUKE’ 2021 event at the start of next year – pandemic permitting.

Kind regards from the CIS team

Centre of Islamic Studies

University of Cambridge

Australian Association of Buddhist Studies (AABS) – June Seminar

The AABS will be hosting an online seminar via Zoom on 4 June from 6:30pm to 7:30pm (Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney time). To join the seminar from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android, click the following link:

Please mute your microphone when joining Zoom.

Kind regards,
AABS Executive

Buddhist Tantric Poetry: Frameworks and Practices

The genre of Buddhist tantric poetry, though often misunderstood, has been a fascinating topic for generations of scholars and practitioners alike. Its esoteric and mystic character, poetry peppered with puns and plays, draws on metaphor and analogies as their major mediating tool through which view and intention is clearly paraphrased from within the Buddhist tantric path. Referring to, as it seems, commonly shared yogic practices, this talk will examine the most important literary themes and religious frameworks underlying those practices.

Dr Julian Schott, who has been teaching Sanskrit this semester at the Univerity of Sydney, is a Posdoctoral Research Fellow at the Numata Center for Buddhist Studies (Hamburg University) and at Mahidol University, Thailand. He has studied Sanskrit, South Asian and Buddhist Studies in Göttingen (BA) and Hamburg (MA). He completed his doctoral dissertation within Hamburg’s Collaborative Research Cluster about Manuscript Cultures with a study, edition and translation of Kṛṣṇacaryāpāda’s Dohākoṣa commentaries, which makes him one of the few specialists of tantric poetry written in Apabhraṃśa.

Need help using Zoom? Visit the Zoom Help Center:

Australian Association of Buddhist Studies (AABS) – May Seminar

The AABS will be hosting an online seminar via Zoom on 21 May at 6:30pm (Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney time). To join the seminar from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android, click the following link:

Intention in Karmaphala from the Vaibhāṣika View According to the Eighth and the Ninth Karmapa’s Abhidharmakośa Commentaries

Intention appears to be a significant element in karmaphala (“result of action”) according to Buddhist thought in general, and particularly in many Tibetan traditions. However, in addition to intention, other dimensions of action also deserve attention with regard to their role in a completed action. This talk analyses and compares the significance of intention and other dimension of action from the Abhidharmakośa commentaries of the Eighth and the Ninth Karmapa, masters, who lived in a time of crucial scholarly developments. This talk argues that these aspects are equally important in an action according to the Vaibhāṣika point of view. It shows that––according to those commentators––in Vaibhāṣika thought the actual action and other dimensions of action are indispensable along with intention to complete an action.  

Dorjee Wangdi is a postgraduate researcher (MPhil) in Asian Studies at the University of Sydney. Focusing on karmaphala, he investigates the Karma chapter of the Abhidharmakośa commentaries by two Tibetan scholar-meditators, the Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje and the Ninth Karmapa Wangchug Dorje. Dorjee has completed a Tibetan monastic education similar to a Masters in Buddhist Philosophy, published various translations and acted as teacher at the Royal University of Bhutan.

SocRel Response Day: Teaching Religion- New Lower Rates

Please note that we have lowered our registration rates for the next SocRel Response Day, Teaching Religion (20/3/2020) at the University of Nottingham with guest speaker, Dr Dawn Llewellyn.

New rates are as follows:

  • BSA Member £5
  • SocRel Member £10
  • Non-member £15

For call for papers, abstract submission and event registration please follow this link: