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Panel on Religion and Collective Memories at XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology in Yokohama/Japan, 13-19 July 2014

Dear colleagues,

we would like to draw your attention to a panel called "Uses of the Past: The Politics of Religion and Collective Memories", which we are organizing at the XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology in Yokohama/Japan, 13-19 July 2014. The panel explores the diverse ways in which collective memories feed into the identity politics and legal controversies around religious diversity.

The recent rise of public religion has been closely connected to the reconstruction of collective memories of religious as well as secular pasts. Collective and cultural memories are (re-)activated whenever reference to the past is brought to bear for different purposes such as the definition of collective identities and the drawing of symbolic boundaries; or for addressing past injustices and claiming rights. In some places, collective memories contain hegemonic accounts of history which give a distinctive place to certain religious communities or even grant supremacy to particular religious traditions, thus limiting the scope and legitimacy of religious pluralism. In other places, increasing religious diversity and secularization have forged a context in which some, often rapidly growing, social groups mobilize secularist memories and posture as proponents of modern rationality or liberal democracy and conceptualize such notions as “culture”. Many such memories respond to experiences of collective trauma while their forms of expression range from ritual to media spectacle and legal discourse. Across the globe, such collective memories have furthermore become subject to international standardization and transnational diffusion processes. The panel aims to discuss the politics of cultural memories of religion and secularism and its variegated uses. Adopting a decidedly global comparative approach, it welcomes theoretical, macro-sociological case studies as well detailed ethnographies from any part of the world.

We wish to encourage you to send an abstract if you feel your research speaks to these concerns. Kindly use the abstract submission system (following this link: and submit your proposal before SEPTEMBER 30, 2013.

Looking forward to hearing from you and with best regards,

Marian Burchardt & Matthias Koenig

Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

„Governance of Cultural Diversity – Socio-Legal Dynamics“

Hermann-Föge-Weg 11

37073 Göttingen