Call for Papers: Religion and Globalization in Asia International Conference (San Francisco)

Call for Papers

“Religion and Globalization in Asia: Prospects, Patterns, and Problems for the Coming Decade”
International Conference
University of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA (USA)
13-14 March 2009

Few scholars or policy makers twenty years ago could have imagined that the first decades of the 21st century would be a time of explosive and wide-spread religiosity. As modernity progressed and societies became more secular and democratic, religion was supposed to loosen its hold on the ways men and women envisioned their place in the world. On the contrary, the dynamics of globalization—such as communication technologies, immigration and migration, capital flows, transnationalism, and identity politics—have contributed to social conditions in which religious belief and practice not only survive but prosper and proliferate.

A growing body of scholarship and reportage has documented this phenomenon in the western hemisphere, but are these patterns applicable to Asia as well? With an estimated 300 million religious adherents in China (home also to the world’s fastest growing Christian population), the world’s largest and most diverse concentration of Muslims in Indonesia, and the rise of a more assertive and nationalistic Hinduism among India’s 1.3 billion people, the role of religion in globalizing processes in Asia requires sustained analysis and elucidation rather than a mention in passing.

The objective of this conference is to muster the intellectual resources and research of experts in a variety of fields to better understand the prospects, patterns, and problems of religion and globalization in Asian societies in the near future. As noted in the recent edited volume Religions/Globalizations, how can we better understand the dialectical tension of codependence and codeterminism between religion and globalization? With a focus on the populations of South and East Asia–densely concentrated, increasingly well-informed and technologically-sophisticated–the conference participants and its keynote speakers will reference and address the following questions and themes:

Prospects
– How can religious pluralism and tolerance be promoted and practiced?
– What social, economic, and political scenarios contribute to peaceful religious proliferation in Asia? – Can global trends and dynamics increase the range of choices for individuals to determine their own religious and cultural identities?

Patterns
– Are there identifiable characteristics for situations where religion is (or could become) a strategic political resource in Asian nations?
– How can we better understanding the codependent and codeterminative dynamics and patterns of religion and globalization?
– Does religious conservatism always compromise the more positive characteristics of globalization that are egalitarian, diverse, hybrid, and cosmopolitan?

Problems
– Are there substantial differences in how we regard religious fundamentalism in Asia and in western nations, especially concerning the belligerent kind that resorts to violence?
– Does the globalizing character of religion impede human rights in Asia?
– Are there regional conflicts that, aided by globalizing forces and religious ideologies, might grow into large-scale wars?

Conference Structure
Friday, the conference will start with a keynote lecture, then break for paper sessions. After lunch, a second paper session will follow, with a concluding lecture preceding a general reception.
Saturday will start with paper sessions, then conclude with a final lecture before lunch and adjournment.

Outcomes
The end result of the conference will be a strategically edited volume that will appeal to courses in history, religious studies, political science, sociology, anthropology, and cultural studies. We will also develop a website that summarizes the conference proceedings, details the key contributors and their work, and provides links to organizations and institutions that promote the study of globalization.

Keynote speakers
Mark Juergensmeyer (UC Santa Barbara)
Sassia Sasken (Columbia)
Nayan Chanda (Yale)

If you wish to present a paper, please submit a 200 word abstract and brief CV to John Nelson no later than August 30, 2008.

Each presenter will be awarded an honorarium of $350 to help defray travel and conference expenses.

Open registration for the conference will begin August 15 and end November 30, 2008. The total number of conference participants is limited to 120.

Contact:

John Nelson, Conference Chair
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
University of San Francisco
2130 Fulton St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
Phone: +1 (415) 422-5093
Fax: +1 (415) 422-5356
Email: nelsonj@usfca.edu
Web: http://www.pacificrim.usfca.edu/religionandglobalization.html

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