Call for Papers

Under construction – Religion as Practice and Process

We invite you to consider topics and objects of research in the study of religions from a process-oriented perspective. We want to encourage you to examine the dynamics and practices in and through which religion is constantly constituted, created, shaped or rejected. The central focus is not on the constructs themselves, but rather on the (work) processes and actors involved, on the agencies, materialities and forces that continually manufacture - or seek to manufacture - what is or should be considered religion in specific social contexts. It is an attempt to discover the dynamics in and through which new things emerge, as well as the constant change that constitutes our "objects", even when considering matters of tradition, order, essence, certainty or continuity. If we direct our attention to processes and practices, then it becomes clear that stability is not a natural state but the result of constant work. At the same time, this perspective creates an opportunity to engage with effects, emergences and the unforeseen in relation to religious practice, as well as references and referents, preconditions and material affordances that guide or elicit these practices. Accordingly, understanding religion as "under construction" does not assume its meaningful givenness, essence and planned development, but rather its ongoing production and transformation. Furthermore, the image of religion as under construction or as a construction site refers to the materiality of what emerges as "religion" and to the physical embeddedness of its production.

To make this perspective more tangible, we propose three overlapping entry points: Structure and Plasticity, Continuities and Ruptures, Inside and Outside. These critical entry points emphasize different phases and possibilities of "religion" in continuous processes of change and, at the same time, challenge us to reflect critically on the work being carried out in the study of religions. The terms used here do not mark an either/or but rather hold open space for critical and conceptual reflection.

Structure and Plasticity

This entry point invites us to apprehend religion in ways that foreground processes of shaping and producing order, on material and ideational preconditions, as well as unexpected emergences, improvisations and the change or dissolution of order. Thus, imagination and creativity are addressed here, but also infrastructures, patterns of order and power relations that shape religious practice or are shaped by it - and which may also provoke unforeseen consequences.

Continuities and Ruptures

This entry point emphasizes the temporal dimensions of processes of constitution, formation, transformation, or rejection of religion and religious traditions. Temporality can refer to (assumed) permanence, simultaneity and repetition, as well as to new beginnings, reconfigurations or revolutions. Religious practice, whether in plural contexts or not, can also have contradictory references to past, present and future.

Inside and Outside

This entry point focuses on social and spatial localizations and the accompanying possibilities and limitations that constitute religion as a practice and process. Images of self and others, affiliations and exclusions, lay and expert perspectives all point to complex relations of power and inequality that emerge not only along the lines of "religion", but also through intersections with categories like knowledge, gender, origin or class.

These three entry points do not provide a closed theoretical framework. Rather, they are intended to motivate empirical and historical research on actors, institutions, texts, objects, different fields of action, discourses and ideologies regarding the possibilities and limits of a processual, practice-oriented perspective.

All three entry points invite us to consider practices of power and processes of producing or perpetuating inequality. In this sense, they always include the question of both the position and agency of scholars of religion and their discipline. Therefore, the dynamics of knowledge production in the study of religions and our participation in the processes that produce what is or should be considered religion need to be addressed. This cannot be done without also critically reflecting on the manifestations of inequality and coloniality that influence research, theorizing, teaching, and publishing policies in the study of religions.

We look forward to contributions with different spatial and temporal scopes, as well as those that explore different methodological approaches and positionings within the field of study of religions.


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