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About the conference

Welcome to VILNIUS!

The Lithuanian Society for the Study of Religion is pleased to invite scholars interested in all aspects of religion and technology to attend the 2023 Conference of the European Association for the Study of Religions on September 4-8, 2023, in Vilnius, Lithuania. 

The relationship between religion and technology is a neglected theme that needs serious research, not just concerning the past, but also in the rapidly changing modern world, where religions and religious movements have become an integral part of the digital world, influencing public opinion, and sometimes even serving as propaganda for political regimes.

Thus, we hope that the conference will contribute to the topic by bringing scholars from across Europe to Vilnius, celebrating its 700th jubilee where its founder, Grand Duke Gediminas invited scholars and scientists, ensuring religious freedom and making Vilnius a hub of religious discourse for centuries to come.

Welcome to EASR 2023!

PARTNERSHIP

IAHR Regional Conference

The 20th Annual Conference of the European Association for the Study of Religions is an IAHR Regional Conference.

Organizers

MEET

Organizing Committee


Rasa Pranskevičiūtė-Amoson, Vilnius University - Chair
Eglė Aleknaitė, Vytautas Magnus University
Milda Ališauskienė, Vytautas Magnus University
Alfredas Buiko, Vilnius University
Kristina Garalytė, Vilnius University
Aušra Pažėraitė, Vilnius University
Tadas Snuviškis, Vilnius University

SAVE THE DATES!

Important Dates


Call for Session Proposal (open / closed panels and roundtables):
October 1, 2022 – November 15, 2022
Notification of Acceptance of Panels:
until November 25, 2022
Call for Individual Papers
December 1, 2022 - January 31, 2023
Notification of Acceptance of Individual Papers
February 28, 2023
Registration
Early bird registration: until May 31, 2023
Standard registration: until June 30, 2023 (Deadline for presenting authors)
Late registration & on site (non presenting participants): from July 1, 2023
Final programme: July, 2023

Keynote Speakers

Jana Valtrová

Masaryk University, Czechia

TOPIC: Technologies of Cross-Cultural (Mis)Communication: Medieval Euro-Asian Encounters and “a Religion”

Jana Valtrová

Masaryk University, Czechia
Speaker

Jana Valtrová

Masaryk University, Czechia

Jana Valtrová

TOPIC: Technologies of Cross-Cultural (Mis)Communication: Medieval Euro-Asian Encounters and “a religion”

BIO:

Jana Valtrová is an assistant professor at the Department for the Study of Religions at Masaryk University. She holds an M.A. in History and Religious Studies, and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies, both from Masaryk University. In her research she focuses on the history of the Euro-Asian encounters, and the process of development of Western perspectives on Asian cultures and religions. The central objects of her investigation are historical travel accounts as sources reflecting the erratic process of meeting, (mis)understanding, dealing with, and interpreting the Other. Inspired by the approaches of entangled histories, in her research she deals with both the conceptual as well as practical aspects of the Euro-Asian encounters.

She is the author of a monograph Středověká setkání s jinými. Modloslužebníci, židé, saracéni a heretici v misionářských zprávách o Asii, Praha: Argo 2011 [Medieval Encounters with the Other. Idolaters, Jews, Saracens and Heretics in Missionary Reports About Asia]. She has published in number of journals including Numen: International Review for the History of Religions, Studi e Materiali di Storia delle Religioni, Religio: Revue pro religionistiku, Eurasian Studies or Journal of Religion in Europe. As a visiting scholar she delivered lectures or courses at universities in Bern, Lausanne, Leipzig, Kaunas, Krakow and Vienna.

ABSTRACT

This talk considers the effects of cross-cultural (mis)communication upon an emerging idea of “a religion” within the context of medieval Euro-Asian exchange.

Medieval contacts between European and Asian cultures intensified during the 13th and 14th centuries in reaction to the establishment and growth of the Mongol empire. Besides the military confrontations, a diplomatic and merchant exchange flourished, which was followed by religious missions of the newly established Franciscan and Dominican orders. The accounts and letters of these friars represent valuable sources because they not only provide images of a “religion of Others”, but also reflect the often-complicated process of its manufacturing. The task to promote mendicant visions of Christianity was challenged by the different natural, social, and cultural conditions to which the friars had to respond and in which their implicit concept of a “religion” did not always work. The combination of mendicant and indigenous sources enables us to unveil the mutual (mis)communication and misunderstandings between the friars and their audiences, on both the practical and the conceptual level. In this talk, I will explore the effects of various communication technologies – such as gift exchange, interactions over food, and visual and audial representation of the friars – as well as mental concepts which were used by the mendicants to grasp and construct the “religions of Others”.

François Gauthier

University of Fribourg, Switzerland

TOPIC: Blowing it up at Burning Man. Religion, Technology and Ritual in the Age of Authenticity

François Gauthier

University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Speaker

François Gauthier

University of Fribourg, Switzerland

François Gauthier

TOPIC: Blowing it up at Burning Man. Religion, Technology and Ritual in the Age of Authenticity

BIO:

François Gauthier is professor of Religious Studies at the Department of Social sciences of the Université de Fribourg, Switzerland, since 2013. Born on the Quebec side of the Ottawa river in 1973, he is a socio-anthropologist of religion who likes to think outside the box and outside the West, mixing up French and English-language traditions. He likes getting dirty when doing his ethnography and then upswinging into big macro questions and back. He prefers epistemology to fixed methods, believes Marcel Mauss was right when he refused to separate anthropology and sociology, and struggles with parenting-work equilibria.

He has recently published Religion, Modernity, Globalisation. Nation-State to Market (Routledge 2020) and has co-edited the Routledge International Handbook of Religion in Global Society (2021). He is also the co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of the generalist social scientific journal MAUSS International. Anti-Utilitarian Interventions in the Social Sciences, and a co-editor of the French language Revue du MAUSS semestrielle. He is committed to enabling the provincialisation of the West while resisting the dissolution of universalism into relativism, promotes critical thinking as a means for political involvement, and works to renew interest for religion as a main theme for the general social sciences while de-marginalising the social scientific study of religion. Finally, he is a sucker for Durkheimian effervescence and crazy stuff.

ABSTRACT

Burning Man is one of the West’s most important event-culture, which assembles over 70’000 participants in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for the duration of a week, and which has fostered related progeny worldwide. Shunning all definitions and attributes, BM’s gift-based economy is a bonanza of intense experiences that oscillate between transgressive and carnivalesque effervescence and intense personal experiences of interiority. Framed by the “Ten Principles”, BM is fueled by a truly ingenious and effective mix of technologies inherited from the counter-cultural tradition or invented in situ. Peopled in majority by “spiritual-not-religious” actors (but not only), BM is by no means an explicitly religious event, yet the religious dimensions are overwhelming. At the same time, BM is wholly unassimilable within the usual epistemologies of the sociology of religion and religious studies. How are we, then, to understand BM? The first part of this presentation will attempt to describe the event and pin down some general traits of its dynamics and structure. The second part raises the question of how we are to deal with BM in the study of religion? I argue that a pretty radically different perspective is needed, one that does not start by defining religion as a differentiated sphere but rather, in the wake of Marcel Mauss, one that understands religion to be fundamental and irreducible dimension of social phenomena considered as total social facts. From this angle, BM suddenly appears not as a marginal phenomenon with respect to “real religion”, but rather as a formidable example of and even standard for religion in our globalized, consumer societies.

Xenia Zeiler

University of Helsinki, Finland

TOPIC: Novel Fields and Technological Spaces in Digital Religion Research: Digital Hinduism and Video Games

Xenia Zeiler

University of Helsinki, Finland
Speaker

Xenia Zeiler

University of Helsinki, Finland

Xenia Zeiler

TOPIC: Novel Fields and Technological Spaces in Digital Religion Research: Digital Hinduism and Video Games

BIO:

Xenia Zeiler is Professor of South Asian Studies at the University of Helsinki, Finland. Her research and teaching are situated at the intersection of digital media, culture and society, especially as related to India and global Indian communities. Her research foci are video games and gaming in India and beyond, digital religion (especially digital Hinduism) and global Hinduism. She also researches and teaches aspects of mediatized and digital cultural heritage and popular culture, especially as related to India.

Selected latest key publications relevant to the conference theme:

Grieve, G. P., Radde-Antweiler, K. and Zeiler, X. (in press) 2022. Value Formations. In: Campbell, H. and Cheong, P. H. (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Digital Religion. Oxford University Press.

Zeiler, X. and Mukherjee, S. 2022. Video Game Development in India: A Cultural and Creative Industry Embracing Regional Cultural Heritage(s). In: Games and Culture 17(4), 509-527.

Zeiler, X. and Thomas, S. (eds.) 2021. Video Games and Cultural Heritage. Special Issue, International Journal of Heritage Studies, T&F.

Zeiler, X. (ed.) 2020. Digital Hinduism. London and New York: Routledge.

Radde-Antweiler, K. and Zeiler, X. (eds.) 2020. The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Journalism. London and New York: Routledge.

Radde-Antweiler, K. and Zeiler, X. (eds.) 2019. Mediatized Religion in Asia. Studies on Digital Media and Religion. London and New York: Routledge.

Šisler, V., Radde-Antweiler, K. and Zeiler, X. (eds.) 2018. Methods for Studying Video Games and Religion. London and New York: Routledge (Routledge Studies in Religion and Digital Culture).

ABSTRACT

Digital religion, as a field of inquiry and as an academic discipline, has been around for more than twenty years now. Not surprisingly, and especially due to the growing acceptance and intensifying interest in the study of religion and digital media, the field has diversified over time. The expanding scope and shape of studies on digital religion increasingly include new research fields, technological genres and spaces, themes, questions, and adequate new approaches, methods, and theoretical frames. This keynote looks into two distinct examples for this.

It opens with presenting central themes, approaches, and perspectives in the still novel subfield of digital religion research, digital Hinduism. By today, Hindu actors (individuals, groups or institutions) vastly interact with digital spaces and as a consequence (re)negotiate and (re)construct contemporary Hindu beliefs and practices. The used technology is wide-ranging and includes but is not limited to social media such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram, online streaming such as Live Darshan, and video games. The keynote’s second part then focuses on the latter, on video games and gaming as an increasingly important media genre and space for digital religion research. Illustrated with examples from Indian video games it especially discusses the potential of applying novel approaches and lenses – such as the analytical concept of value formations and the broader lens of cultural heritage – to discover, describe and study underlying or implicit religious topics in video games.

Neil Price

Uppsala University, Sweden

TOPIC: Memory Machines: Material Frontiers of Religion, Conversion, and Violence in Viking-Age Scandinavia

Neil Price

Uppsala University, Sweden
Speaker

Neil Price

Uppsala University, Sweden

Neil Price

TOPIC: Memory Machines: Material Frontiers of Religion, Conversion, and Violence in Viking-Age Scandinavia

BIO:

Neil Price is Distinguished Professor of Archaeology at Uppsala University, Sweden. A leading expert on the Viking Age, his fieldwork, teaching, and research has taken him to more than 40 countries. His publications have appeared in 20 languages, and he is a frequent consultant and contributor to television and film.

ABSTRACT

The so-called Viking Age of Scandinavia, c. 750-1050 CE, saw some of the most profound social and political transformations in European history: a shift from small, regional polities to unified nation states, and the gradual replacement of complex, polytheistic Northern beliefs with the doctrines of Christianity. Two factors were central to this process, namely the active use of material culture, and the deep-seated role that war played in world-views of the Norse. This talk will explore the media for these messages, through the archaeology of burial in the Viking Age. Mortuary behaviour was a technological mechanism, and the resulting funerary monuments were effectively machines for the perpetuation of memory. We will encounter the war sorcerers of the Vikings, the ‘weapon graves’ of the social and military elites, and consider the gendered construction of warriorhood against the background of religious change. The Christians also activated material culture in their mission of conversion, coupled with the acquisition of political power. Using the increasingly popular medium of runic memorials, they articulated new concepts of the ‘good’ person, contrasting sharply with the valorisation of aggression promoted by the old beliefs. As they crossed these frontiers of religion, technology, and war, the diverse peoples of Scandinavia navigated an altered, different world.

Bronislaw Szerszynski

Lancaster University, UK

TOPIC: Technology Before and After Monotheism

Bronislaw Szerszynski

Lancaster University, UK
Speaker

Bronislaw Szerszynski

Lancaster University, UK

Bronislaw Szerszynski

TOPIC: Technology Before and After Monotheism

BIO:

Bronislaw Szerszynski is Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University.  His research seeks to situate social life in the longer perspective of human and planetary history, drawing on the social and natural sciences, arts and humanities.  He is co-author with Nigel Clark of Planetary Social Thought (2021), author of Nature, Technology and the Sacred (2005), and co-editor of Risk, Environment and Modernity (1996), Re-Ordering Nature: Theology, Society and the New Genetics (2003), Nature Performed: Environment, Culture and Performance (2003) and Technofutures: Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Nature and the Sacred (2015).  As well as academic publications, his outputs also include performances, creative writing, art-science exhibitions and events, and experimental participatory workshops.  He was co-organiser of the public art–science events Between Nature: Explorations in Ecology and Performance (Lancaster, 2000), Experimentality (Lancaster/Manchester/London, 2009-10), and Anthropocene Monument, with Bruno Latour and Olivier Michelon (Toulouse, 2014-2015).

ABSTRACT

How can the study of religion help us understand the past, present and future of technology on a changing planet? Traditional techne, or craft, can be seen as a three-stage process – the taking of raw materials out of nonhuman nature, their transformation into made things, and the latter’s incorporation into the nexus of human action and meaning – a process that recapitulates cosmogonic dramas, is beset with spiritual dangers and thus requires ritual. I explore how this traditional cosmotechnics was transformed in the West by the development and spread of monotheism. Modern technology promises to reconcile religion (canonical rituals that affirm and reproduce cosmic and social order) and magic (situational, ends-oriented rituals addressing needs and desires), by offering ways of achieving specific goals that also affirm the regular, lawful character of the cosmos. The hope embedded in modern tools and machines was that, just as angels were the extensions of God, tools and machines would be the ‘extensions of man’. However, modern technologies refuse to be contained within this cosmotechnical regime, generating ‘techno-demonic’ phenomena. A technology after monotheism would involve a partial return to traditional techne: seeing technology not merely as instituted order (religion and societal reproduction) but as instituting order (magic and radical novelty), and learning from non-western peoples about nonhuman figures that appear and offer guidance when passing through thresholds – either spatial ones into and out of nonhuman nature, or temporal thresholds between operating states of the planet.

EASR CONFERENCE

Partners & Exhibitors

LIVE EVENT

Conference Venue


The Annual Conference of EASR will take place in Radisson Blu Hotel Lietuva, located on Konstitucijos av. 20, Vilnius, Lithuania 

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