Power/Religion: A Revanche of Reaction or a Metaphor of Revolution?

Venues: Helsinki (University of Helsinki) and St Petersburg (European University at St Petersburg and Russian Christian Academy for Humanities)

Date: September 10–15, 2013

After a short-lived belief in the secularization of societies, religion has returned to the political arena with a vengeance. It is one of the most controversial but also determining political issues in today’s world. But is religion a reactionary force or does it involve revolutionary potentiality? This three-day international conference addresses questions pertaining to the relationship between power, politics, and religion.

Schedule

Tuesday September 10

Arrival at Helsinki

19:00 Dinner

Wednesday September 11

Venue: Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki (Address: Fabianinkatu 24)

10:00 Opening words

10:15 – 10:45 Roland Boer (University of Newcastle), “Translating Religion and Politics: An Alternative Model.”

10:45 – 11:15 Niko Huttunen (University of Helsinki), “How Fantasy Becomes True: Paul between Political Realism and Eschatological Fantasy.”

11:15 – 11:45 Sergei Prozorov (University of Helsinki), “Pussy Riot and the Politics of Profanation.”

11:45 – 13:15 Lunch

13:15 – 13:45 Chin Ken Pa (Chung Yuan Christian University), “W. T. Chu’s Jesus the Proletarian.”

13:45 – 14:15 Olli-Pekka Moisio (University of Jyväskylä), “Max Horkheimer on Religion as a Resistance and Hope.”

14:15 – 14:45 Sergey Kozin (Russian Christian Academy for Humanities), TBA

Coffee break

15:15 – 15:45 Sanna Tirkkonen (University of Helsinki), “Power, Religion and Justice: Foucault on the Cult of Dionysus.”

15:15 – 15:45 Lars T. Lih (McGill University) “Shield of Aeneas: Ancient and Modern Narratives of World-historical Mission.”

15:45 – 16:15 Philip Chia (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) “Occupy Central: Scribal Resistance in Daniel, the Long Road to Universal Suffrage”

Discussion

19:00 Departure from Helsinki (Ferry to St Petersburg)

Thursday September 12

9:30: Arrival at St Petersburg

Venue: European University at St Petersburg (Address: #3 Gagarinskaya Street)

14:00 Opening words

14:15 – 14:45 Joseph Bartlett (Indiana University), “Extremism for Love: Horkheimer beyond the Age of Islamic Terror.”

14:45 – 15:15 Ali Al-Hakim (International Islamic Contemporary Thought Foundation), “Shi’ah’s Standpoint between Revolutionaries and Quietists.”

15:15 – 15:45 Jouni Tilli (University of Jyväskylä), “’We should obey the nation state and God rather than men’: Lutheran Metanoia and the Politics of Obedience.”

Coffee break

16:15 – 16:45 Youzhuang Geng (Renmin University of China), “The Rhetoric of Icons: from Image to Voice.”

16:45 – 17:15 Mika Ojakangas (University of Jyväskylä), “From Political Theology to Theological Politics.”

17:15 – 17:45 Markku Koivusalo (University of Helsinki), “The Theological Structure of the 20th Century Extreme Political Thought”

17:45 – 18:00 Discussion

19:00 Dinner

Friday September 13

Venue: TBA

11:00 – 11:30 Christina Petterson (Humboldt University of Berlin), “’Der Mensch muß immer im Streit seÿn’: Zinzendorf and the ideology of Language.”

11:30 – 12:00 Elisa Heinämäki (University of Helsinki), “What is Radical about Radical Pietism?”

12:00 – 12:30 Artemy Magun (European University, St Petersburg), TBA

12:30 – 12:45 Discussion

12:45 – 14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 17:30 special section for additional Russian participants (in Russian)

19:00 Dinner

 

Saturday September 14

Sightseeing

20:00 Departure from St Petersburg (Ferry to Helsinki)

Sunday September 15

8:30 Return to Helsinki

 

Sponsors:

Subjectivity, Historicity, and Communality Research Group (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki)

Academy of Finland (Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki and the Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä)

European University at St Petersburg (http://www.eu.spb.ru/)

Russian Christian Academy for Humanities (http://rhga.ru/)

Religion and Political Thought Project

Australian Research Council

Last weekend’s Religion and Radicalism conference was quite something. Under normal circumstances, it requires a little more effort than usual to get here – to Herrnhut, Saxony. On this occasion, the effort was significant. For those who evaded Malaysian elections, slashed feet, dreadful German immigration officials, lambing season and so on, the day of travel revealed … a Lufthansa strike. From Kiev to Oslo, from Helsinki to London, people scrambled to find other options. Eventually, people managed to get here over the next day. The result was that once here the appreciation was much higher.

The paper sessions were absorbing, generating new ideas and at times vigorous debate:

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In the evenings we gathered in our apartment for drinks (the amusement was largely due to this map) …

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… and took instructions in yoga:

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Amazing what a few drinks will make people do at 1.00 am:

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Even so, ageing bones make the lotus position just a little more difficult:

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On Sunday afternoon we had a special treat: the wind chill knocked what was already the coldest ‘spring’ day on record to -20 Centigrade:

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It was our day for trekking, exploring the early days of the Moravian Brethren, Zinzendorf’s Schloss, and the stone circles used for quiet gatherings in the forest. The circles were used to meet and discuss community problems in the 1700s:

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With weather like this, I’m guessing not many problems would have been that urgent. Meanwhile, we made the most of it and plunged down steep hillsides:

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On return, there was nothing a little bit of thawing wouldn’t restore to its old self.

Yet, despite it’s apparent remoteness …

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… it is a place to which people seem to come from all corners of the globe. They even had flags out for us:

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Or, more closely:

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So, next weekend travellers will cross the seven seas and come from the four corners of the globe to … the bustling village of Herrnhut, Saxony. The reason: a conference on Religion and Radicalism. It is the fourth in our series, which began in Copenhagen three years ago.

THE PROGRAM

Pre-conference: Arrival and settling in.

Friday, 22 March

8:00-9:00      Breakfast

9:00-10:30    Papers

Mika Ojakangas, On the Medieval Origins of Radical Reformation: An Outburst of the Inner Truth

Christina Petterson, Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine: Radical or Reactionary?

10:30-11:00  Morning coffee

11:00-12:00  Papers

James Crossley, Turning the World the Right Way Up? Or, How British Marxist Historians Found Comfort in the Bible in the Face of Anarchism

Timothy Gorringe, Winstanley as an Inspiration for Contemporary English Radical Politics

12:30-13:30  Lunch

13:30-15:00  Papers

Lu Shaochen, Authority and the Russian Revolution: Luther, Calvin, Lenin

Tamara Prosic, Orthodoxy, Collectivism and Communism

15:00-15:30  Afternoon tea

15:30-17.00  Papers

Mehmet Karabela, Uses of Marx in the Iranian Revolution: Shariati’s Marx and ‘Muslim Marxists’. NB. This paper will be delivered via skype.

Holly Randall-Moon, Secular Critique, Religion and Cultural Studies

17:00-18:00  Relax

18:00-22:00  Dinner and viewing of the film: Winstanley (1975)

 

Saturday, 23 March

8:00-9:00      Breakfast

9:00-10:30    Papers

Mads Peter Karlsen, Stony Ground but not Entirely’ – On Badiou’s Materialist Notion of Grace and its Political Implications

Ole Jakob Løland, Saint Paul: The Legitimizer or Deligitimizer of a New Revolutionary Order?

10:30-11:00  Morning coffee

11:00-12:30  Papers

Chris Hartney, A Lone Radical Christian Voice Against Economic and Governmental Excess? The Example of the Jesus Christians

Marion Maddox, Green Christians: A New Australian Progressive Voice, and the Remarkable Campaign to Silence It

12:30-13:30  Lunch

13:30-15:00  Papers

Tatiana Senyushkina, Religion and Civil Society: Between Secularisation and Fundamentalism

Jorunn Økland, Gender Equality as Value in Religious and Secular Contexts

15:00-15:30  Afternoon tea

15:30-17:00  Papers

Roland Boer, Omnia sunt Communia: Enthusiasm, Reason, and Luther Blissett’s ‘Q’

Anthony Gwyther, Christian Communism Today: The Experience of the Basisgemeinde Wulfshagenerhütten

17:00-18:00  Relax

18:00-22:00  Dinner

 

Sunday, 24 March

Optional walking tour (depending on weather) of Hengstberg, stone circles, Langsamer Tod (the slow death – climb from Ruppersdorf), Zinzendorf walk through the Wald, Zinzendorfer Schloss at Berthesdorf, and Gottes Acker (God’s Acre) at the Hutberg. This will take about three hours.

You may also opt to saunter through the village of Herrnhut (also included in above walk) and go to the Hutberg, a few hundred metres from town.

Or you may opt to have a quiet rest day at Tagungs- und Erholungsheim.

 

Full Paper Proposals

1. Roland Boer

University of Newcastle, Australia

Omnia sunt Communia: Enthusiasm, Reason, and Luther Blissett’s ‘Q’

This paper involves a reading of the popular novel Q, originally published in Italian in 1999. My particular concern is the tension between enthusiasm and reason, revolutionary passion and calculated organisation. Obviously, this tension has both political and religious translations, with neither claiming priority. Theoretically, the question comes out of Ernst Bloch, while its particular manifestation is Q. Written by the Italian radical collective, Luther Blissett (now Wu Ming), this long novel provides a skilful and engaging retelling of forty years of the revolutionary sixteenth century. Our guiding character moves from Luther, through engaging closely with Thomas Müntzer (‘The Coiner’) and the anarchists of the Lowlands, and then works through the complex machinations that lead to the half-hearted settlement between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Throughout, our protagonist is shadowed by a Vatican agent, Q, penner of letters, worker of intrigues, agent of the pope to be, Paul IV. Since this paper is in the process of being written, I simply list my interests: the sympathies of the novel are clearly with the passionate revolutionaries, even though they all, bar one, come to grisly ends; the novel has become a favourite among the various arms of the anti-capitalist movement, which uses slogans from the book such as omina sunt communia; this popularity indicates that in our day the religious nature of the revolutionary tradition has come to the forefront, with activists becoming well informed indeed concerning the Reformation, Anabaptism, Müntzer, Münster, the Counter-Reformation, and the theological debates around them. All of this will lead me back to the tension between passion and reason, for this interest in the revolutionary religious tradition is happening among the passionate activists, outside the conventional modes of the production of knowledge.

2. James Crossley

University of Sheffield, UK

Turning the World the Right Way Up? Or, How British Marxist Historians Found Comfort in the Bible in the Face of Anarchism

The British Marxist historians (e.g. Christopher Hill, Eric Hobsbawm, E.P. Thompson, and Rodney Hilton) were among the most influential twentieth century thinkers in English speaking historiography and British political activism. However, when a new generation of historians and activists were making their mark in light of 1968, there was that curiously ambivalent attitude present among certain British Marxist historians (and found elsewhere in Western Marxism and remaining present in certain contemporary strands of Marxist thought), as well as, or perhaps because of, a hostility to the perception of a strong anarchist presence in the upheavals. A number of ideological and historical reasons will be given for this ambivalence and hostility but it will be seen that, despite the rhetorical hostility, anarchism managed to influence (probably unintentionally) this now ageing generation of Marxist thinkers and one key way was through biblical language and the study of ‘heretical’ users of the Bible. Particular attention will be paid to Christopher Hill and his famous 1972 publication on the English Revolution, The World Turned Upside Down.

3. Timothy Gorringe

University of Exeter, UK

Winstanley as an Inspiration for Contemporary English Radical Politics

Gerrard Winstanley was the main spokesman for the 17th century Diggers. Largely forgotten until the late nineteenth century he was then taken up by Russian socialists and in the 20th century by the Marxist historian Christopher Hill.  Today his ideas and writings are inspirational for a variety of groups in the UK following the breakdown of the welfare consensus. ‘The Land is Ours’ movement,  founded by the journalist George Monbiot, campaigns for land reform and land re-distribution (in a country where 70% of the land is owned by 1% of the population);  the ‘Diggers and Dreamers’ network coordinates information about eco settlements and alternative forms of living; the journal The Land tackles planning issues largely, though not exclusively, for the rural poor; the Transition Towns movement is creating a bottom up democracy which pulls the rug from under corporate and managerial politics. These movements put class, distributive justice, and sustainability together in an interesting way and in the UK are one of the most vibrant socialist voices, following the abandonment of socialist goals by ‘New’ (i.e. market driven) Labour.  They illustrate the way in which socialist discourse and praxis is both reconfigured and continued under 21st c conditions and in face of the emerging threats of peak oil and climate change.

4. Anthony Gwyther

Basisgemeinde Wulfshagenerhütten, Germany

The Basisgemende Wulfshagenerhütten: An experiment in the embodiment of the radical potential of the christian religion.

In the course of history, religion (although it has supported power structures of every sort) has again and again been involved in movements which critique elements of the existing social/political/economic/religious order. This critique of the existing order has been at times theoretical, but also practical: that is, attempts have been made to put this radical critique into a lived form. In this paper I describe the Basisgemeinde Wulfshagenerhütten (of which I am a member), a christian community in northern Germany which seeks to embody an alternative way of life in its varying dimensions. The community originated in the social and political upheavals of the late 1960s which also provoked members of the established churches into an exploration of the radical dimensions and potential of the christian religion. The Basisgemeinde practices Gütergemeinschaft (a community of goods) and operates a manufacturing cooperative which is jointly owned by its members. After a description of the Basisgemeinde I will examine the importance of Religionskritik and Sozialkritik in the beginning of the community and how this comes to lived expression 40 years after the beginning of the community.

5. Christopher Hartney

University of Sydney, Australia

A Lone Radical Christian Voice Against Economic and Governmental Excess?:
The Example of the Jesus Christians

Like many poverty movements throughout the history of Christianity, the Jesus Christians re-imagine a Christ-inspired simplicity that puts them at sharp odds with both mainstream Christian thought and mainstream cultural flows of the West. This small movement, which has been in development since the 1970s,  provocatively rails against “Churchies” who seek prosperity and comfort in the message of the New Testament, while at the same time seeking a life without money that extends as far as dumpster diving and the reuse of abandoned food. The movement is not necessarily left wing in ideology, but certainly in its communal practices it can be seen as offering a radical challenge to other Christians in their relation to issues of poverty, ecology and the state. This paper positions the Jesus Christians in their heritage to other Christian groups such as The Family and the Quakers, but ends by assessing the unique challenge they offer to mainstream Christians. I conclude by considering why mainstream Christianity will never be able to adequately respond to the challenges this organisation presents.

6. Mehmet Karabela

Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada

Uses of Marx in the Iranian Revolution: Shariati’s Marx and ‘Muslim Marxists’

7. Mads Peter Karlsen

University of Copenhagen, Denmark

‘Stony ground but not entirely’ – On Badiou’s materialist notion of grace and its political implications

Even though Alain Badiou’s depicts himself and his philosophy as ‘militant atheist’ he nevertheless employs the fundamental theological notion of grace on numerous occasions. This is the case not merely in relation to his interpretation of the Apostle Paul, but also in his presentation of his own philosophical position. This recurrent usage of the notion of grace raises questions of clarification concerning the sense in which Badiou more specifically uses and understands this term: What precisely does Badiou mean when he talks about ‘laicised’ or ‘materialist’ grace? Why does he not just leave this notion behind? In what sense does he need it? Furthermore, it also raises a more fundamental question concerning whether his alleged materialist philosophy of the event might actually be interpreted as a theological doctrine of grace. In my paper I will begin the discussion of these issues and of their political implications.

8. Ole Jakob Løland

University of Oslo, Norway

Saint Paul: The Legitimizer or Deligitimizer of a New Revolutionary Order?

The religious figure Paul the Apostle has returned to continental philosophy as an inspiration for various thinkers. This paper focuses on two of these philosophers, Slavoj Žižek and Jacob Taubes, and asks: Which political themes emerges when we take a close look on the Pauline passages that both Žižek and Taubes use in their interpretations of Paul? How does Pauline Politics look like when we take their common Pauline sources as our point of departure? Our preconception of Zizek’s Paulinism as a desicionist messianism that is ready to legitimate and justify a New Political Order will be put to test by these close readings. The paper will also evaluate the view of Taubes’ Paul as a figure that is constantly delegitimizing any positive political content. By a comparative study of Žižek and Taubes’ interpretations of the same Pauline passages the author will show different aspects of Pauline politics that appears in the contemporary philosophical debate about Paul’s legacy and relevance for the political Left today.

9. Lu Shaochen

Fudan University, Shanghai, China

Authority and the Russian Revolution: Luther, Calvin, Lenin

10. Marion Maddox

Macquarie University, Australia

Green Christians: A New Australian Progressive Voice, and the Remarkable Campaign to Silence It

In the 2010 Australian federal election, the Australian Greens Party fielded its largest-ever slate of candidates. They included several members of the clergy; a lay congregational leader who had been recruited into the party by nuns; a senior church social justice official of many years’ service; and numerous highly committed lay members of their local congregations.

The same election campaign also saw a series of extraordinary attacks on the Greens Party. Australia’s Catholic Cardinal, George Pell, called the party ‘quite remarkably anti-Christian’; the Australian Christian Lobby wrote in its annual report that its attacks on the Greens had been among its most important undertakings for the year; and several Christian organisations issued election guides urging voters to put the Greens last. On the election day itself, a Greens campaign worker was denied legally-mandated access to the space outside a polling booth, because the booth was inside a Catholic church and the priest would not allow the campaign worker onto church grounds.

Drawing on interviews with self-identified Christian Greens candidates, this paper explores their religious motivations for standing, and their responses to and interpretations of the campaign against them.

Next, it analyses the religious anti-Greens campaign in the broader context of the Australian religious and political climate.

Finally, it considers why the Christian left voice, credited with a significant impact on the outcome of the 1993 federal election, has been so effectively eclipsed over the intervening 17 years, and what conditions might enable progressive Christians such as those active in the Greens to reassert a Christian left public theology.

11. Mika Ojakangas

University of Jyväskylä, Finland

On the Medieval Origins of Radical Reformation: An Outburst of the Inner Truth

In this paper, I shall argue that one of the most revolutionary doctrines of radical reformation was actually an orthodox Scholastic doctrine, namely that of the spark of conscience (synderesis), meaning the divine remnant of the fall within the soul of every human being. Although this doctrine of inner truth was revolutionary from the very beginning, its revolutionary potentiality did not become fully affirmed until the authority of the universal Church was called into question, notably by Luther. Yet Luther himself repudiated the doctrine of inner truth, as the only truth is that of the written Word. Instead, radical reformers, such as Müntzer and Denck, argued that both the Church and the Word must be subjected to the authority of the inner truth. The Scripture bears witness to God but only mediately, while the experience of the inner truth is His immediate expression. Thus, these radicals were Catholics without the Church and Protestants without the Word, but it was precisely this that made them revolutionary in the first place. It was the inner truth alone that had authority over them and inasmuch as they had this truth within, so is God and everything that belongs to Him: omnipotence, righteousness, and mercy.

12. Christina Petterson

Humboldt University, Germany

Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine: Radical or Reactionary?

In this paper I want to examine the relation between the Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine and a couple of different social contexts (Europe and the colonies) to discuss whether the movement could be determined as radical or reactionary in terms of its socio-economic status, gender politics and theologicial convictions. Embedded in this discussion is a consideration of uses of radical and reactionary and their relations to what is called a ‘fall narrative’ namely that the original pure and dynamic movement became institutionalised and rigid at a certain point in time, thereby leaving behind its radical origin.

13. Tamara Prosic

Monash University, Australia

Orthodoxy, Collectivism and Communism

Communism as a type of social organisation with common ownership of the means of production in many ways rests on the principles of collectivism or worldviews that emphasize the relational, social nature of human beings and their interdependence. Given that religions are all embracing social phenomena that can inform every aspect of one’s life, they are certainly one of the sources that contribute or can contribute towards building a collectivist outlook and embracing the ideals of communism. The paper discusses some of the basic Christian concepts such as the relationship between god and humans, the nature of humans, the concept of sin and their extremely collectivist understanding in Orthodox Christianity, suggesting that it was the Orthodox worldview that also contributed to the success of 1917 Russian communist revolution.

14. Holly Randell-Moon

Macquarie University, Australia

Secular Critique, Religion and Cultural Studies

In the last decade, religious issues have emerged as intense sites of conflict in media and political discourse in western liberal democratic countries. With its focus on issues of representation, power and discourse, cultural studies is well placed to engage with religion’s influence on media, political and cultural communication. However, religion’s influence on everyday life has largely escaped the disciplinary attention of cultural studies. In this paper, I explore how specific kinds of theoretical and methodological assumptions govern the types of knowledge produced and analysed within cultural studies and how these knowledge practices in turn work to marginalise religion within the discipline. Cultural studies is implicated in the secular epistemological orientation of academic critique even as it contests some of its fundamental humanist assumptions from a radical left perspective. As result, there are specific cultural, political and corporeal economies that condition intellectual engagements with the secular and religious in certain ways. Any engagement with religion therefore requires a concomitant engagement with the cultural and institutional operation of secularism. Typically, secularism is understood to separate religion from politics, legally or constitutionally, thus rendering religion a matter of private belief and individual choice. Such an understanding has been challenged by a number of scholars (such as Asad [2003], Taylor [2007], Mahmood [2004] and Masuzawa [2005]) who argue that secularism produces particular understandings of religion. Drawing on these critiques, this paper argues that it is not tenable to exclude religion from cultural studies’ theoretical and disciplinary paradigms. In order to include religion within the purview of cultural studies’ disciplinary concerns, the secular constitution of knowledge practices, and our complicity in reproducing these practices as scholars, must be opened up to critical interrogation.

15. Tatiana Senyushkina

Taurida National V.I. Vernadsky University, Crimea

Religion and Civil Society: Between Secularisation and Fundamentalism

The influence of fundamentalist and secular values ​​in the development of religious consciousness and civil society, using the example of post-Soviet countries, including Ukraine, is analysed in this paper. Civil society is analysed as a result of the influence of secular consciousness on social life and on the relationship between people, which are slowly being transformed in the direction of eroding the clear boundaries of the sphere of influence of religious principles. These processes take place in the context of the formation of priorities drawn from the values ​​of individualism, which is the basis of capitalist society. With the dominance of the economic ethos of capitalism (Max Weber), society needs to find effective mechanisms of social solidarity which is necessary for the regulation of social relations with individualistic values, which are free from regulatory control of the collective forms of religious consciousness. However, along with these processes we can see the examples of the activation of various fundamentalist religious movements, particularly in Islam, which is beginning to play an important role in global geopolitics. The paper focuses on the inter-Islamic contradictions in the Ukraine (Crimea), especially as a result of the conflict between the secular character of “Traditional Islam of Crimean Tatars” and radical movements, such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir, the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis (Wahhabis), which are developing under the influence of the Arab countries.

16. Jorunn Økland

University of Oslo, Norway

Gender Equality as Value in Religious and Secular Contexts

This will not be a formal paper but a brainstorming session, based on the energetic work at the Gentre for Gender Research at the University of Oslo and seeking ideas to move forward in a collaborative fashion.

WEATHER

Ah yes, the weather: winter refuses to budge, so we have snow and sub-zero temperatures into next week:
Thursday: 4° to -5°
Friday: 1° to -6°
Saturday: -3° to -12°
Sunday: -1° to -8°

Second Call for Papers

Power/Religion: A Revanche of Reaction or a Metaphor of Revolution?

Venues: Helsinki (University of Helsinki)

St Petersburg (European University at St Petersburg and Russian Christian Academy for Humanities)

Date: September 10–15, 2013

Paper proposals due May 1, 2013

After a short-lived belief in the secularization of societies, religion has returned to the political arena with a vengeance. It is one of the most controversial but also determining political issues in today’s world. The majority of contemporary wars and terrorist attacks are religiously laden. The age of theocracies is by no means over. European secular countries are trying to tackle with the issue of religious symbols in the public sphere. Religious words such as blasphemy have reappeared in political vocabulary. While the Lutheran State-Church is reduced to insignificance, in Orthodox countries the Church and the State have entered into a mutual partnership legitimizing each other’s power claims against secular reformists. Overtly secular intellectuals in the West have turned to religious discourses in their quest for tools of cultural and political criticism in order to fight capitalism and neoliberal hegemony. Not Marx or Lenin but the Apostle Paul and Thomas Müntzer are leading revolutionary figures today.

But is religion a reactionary force or does it involve revolutionary potentiality? Or is religion, particularly the Abrahamic religions, fundamentally twofold, originally based on a revolutionary event but developed into a power system of the Church. Or is the very power of the Church based on the fidelity to the revolutionary event in its origin? What about religious doctrines? In the Epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul proclaims that every person should be subject to the governing authorities (Romans 13), while in the same letter he observes that we are “not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). Further, in Acts 5:29 we may read the Apostles’ collective reply to the high priest who charged them not to preach in the name of Christ: “We must obey God rather than men.” Indeed, does not religion open up a transcendent dimension of freedom within the immanence of political order? Or is it precisely this transcendent dimension of freedom – but also that of secrecy (arcana) – that is needed in order to legitimize clerical and political power? Presumably, there is no definitive answer to these questions, for it is quite obvious that we have to take into account historical contexts: it is probable that same religious principles that empower revolutionary militants can be used by the established Churches in order to suppress them. Or is it? This two-day conference addresses these and related questions. Papers may deal with perennial, historical or contemporary issues. Both theoretical and empirical approaches are welcome.

Schedule

Tuesday September 10

Arrival at Helsinki

19:00 Get together party / dinner

Wednesday September 11

Venue: Collegium for Advanced Studies (University of Helsinki)

9:15 – 11:45 five papers

11:45 – 13:15 lunch

13:15 – 15:45 five papers

19:00 Departure from Helsinki (Ferry to St Petersburg)

Thursday September 12

9:30: Arrival at St Petersburg

14:00 – 17:30 five papers

19:00 Dinner

Friday September 13

10:00 – 12:30 five papers

12:30 Lunch

14:00 – 17:30 special section for additional Russian participants (in Russian)

19:00 Dinner

Saturday September 14

Sightseeing

20:00 Departure from St Petersburg (Ferry to Helsinki)

Sunday September 15

8:30 Return to Helsinki

Paper Proposals

Researchers interested in presenting a paper at the conference are asked to send an abstract of no more than 300 words by the 1st of May 2013 to the following email addresses:

mika.ojakangas@jyu.fi

power.religion2013@gmail.com

NOTE: The conference will take place in Helsinki and St Petersburg. Those participants who wish to participate in the sessions in both cities are recommended to use the opportunity to purchase a visa free cruise / hotel package to St Petersburg including two nights on board (St Peter Line / Princess Maria, Helsinki – St Petersburg – Helsinki) and two nights’ accommodation in a hotel (four stars) in St Petersburg. The price of the cruise / hotel package is about 250-300€. If you are interested in the package, please contact Mika Ojakangas (mika.ojakangas@jyu.fi) before the 1st of April.

Looking forward to receiving your paper proposals,

Roland Boer (University of Newcastle, Australia)

Sergey Kozin (Russian Christian Academy of the Humanities)

Mika Ojakangas (University of Jyväskylä, Finland)

Sponsors:

Subjectivity, Historicity, and Communality Research Group (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki)

Academy of Finland (Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki)

European University at St Petersburg

Russian Christian Academy for Humanities

Religion and Political Thought Project (Australian Research Council)

Preliminary Call for Papers.

Power/Religion: A Revanche of Reaction or a Metaphor of Revolution?

Venues: University of Helsinki and the European University at St Petersburg

Date: 10-15 September, 2013

After a short-lived belief in the secularization of societies, religion has returned to the political arena with a vengeance. It is one of the most controversial but also determining political issues in today’s world. The majority of contemporary wars and terrorist attacks are religiously laden. The age of theocracies is by no means over. European secular countries are trying to tackle with the issue of religious symbols in the public sphere. Religious words such as blasphemy have reappeared in political vocabulary. While the Lutheran State-Church is reduced to insignificance, in Orthodox countries the Church and the State have entered into a mutual partnership legitimizing each other’s power claims against secular reformists. Overtly secular intellectuals in the West have turned to religious discourses in their quest for tools of cultural and political criticism in order to fight capitalism and neoliberal hegemony. Not Marx or Lenin but the Apostle Paul and Thomas Müntzer are leading revolutionary figures today.

But is religion a reactionary force or does it involve revolutionary potentiality? Or is religion, particularly the Abrahamic religions, fundamentally twofold, originally based on a revolutionary event but developed into a power system of the Church. Or is the very power of the Church based on the fidelity to the revolutionary event in its origin? What about religious doctrines? In the Epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul proclaims that every person should be subject to the governing authorities (Romans 13), while in the same letter he observes that we are “not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). Further, in Acts 5:29 we may read the Apostles’ collective reply to the high priest who charged them not to preach in the name of Christ: “We must obey God rather than men.” Indeed, does not religion open up a transcendent dimension of freedom within the immanence of political order? Or is it precisely this transcendent dimension of freedom – but also that of secrecy (arcana) – that is needed in order to legitimize clerical and political power? Presumably, there is no definitive answer to these questions, for it is quite obvious that we have to take into account historical contexts: it is probable that same religious principles that empower revolutionary militants can be used by the established Churches in order to suppress them. Or is it? This two-day conference addresses these and related questions. Papers may deal with perennial, historical or contemporary issues. Both theoretical and empirical approaches are welcome.

Organizers:

Mika Ojakangas, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Artemy Magun, European University at St. Petersburg, Russian Federation

Sergey Kozin, University of Newcastle, Australia

Roland Boer, University of Newcastle, Australia

Please send paper proposals to me at this stage.

This is the fifth conference to be held under the ‘Religion and Radicalism’ series. To date, we have had:

Copenhagen: September 2010

Taipei: September 2011

Newcastle: October 2012

Herrnhut: March 2013

A five-volume series, under the title of Religion and Radicalism, will gather the articles from this international series of conferences.

Yes indeed, it is up and running next week, with participants from China, Taiwan, Scotland, USA, and as far away as Newcastle:

5-6 October 2012

The Lockup, Newcastle

Program

Friday, 5 October

9:30          Welcome: Hugh Craig, Director, Humanities Research Institute

9:30-10:30    Paper Session

Zhang Shuangli: Why Should One be Interested in the Theological Dimension of the Project of Modern Politics? On the Chinese Acceptance of Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology

Chin Kenpa:   Y. T. Wu on Christian Materialism

10:30-11:00   Break

11:00-12.30   Paper Session

Matthew Chrulew: Pastoral Counter-Conducts: Religious Radicalism in Foucault’s Genealogy of Christianity

Tamara Prosic: Between Support for the State and its Betrayal: The Contradictions of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Concept of Symphonia

Marion Maddox: Four Things You Probably Didn’t Know About The Australian Christian Lobby: A Case Study of Rightwing Mobilisation

12:30-13:30   Lunch

13:30-15:00   Paper Session

Mehmet Ozalp: Islamic Theology and Treason: Trials of Said Nursi in Secular Turkey and the Nature of Nursi’s Islamic Revivalism

Sean Durbin:  Mediating the Past Through the Present and the Present Through Past: The Symbiotic Relationship of Christian Zionism’s Alien Enemies and Internal Heretics

Remy Low:    Merely Different, or, Why the Rise of Religious Schooling in Australia is not Radical

15:00-15:30   Break

15:30-17:00   Paper Session

Mark Manolopoulos: A Most Treasonous Faith: Radical Faith, Radical Politics, Radical Reason

Philip Chia:    Treason Against Thy Kingdom, Lord! Between “Justice on Earth” and “Justification by Faith”

Chris Hartney: Theology and Treason: Three Causes célèbres and the Emergent State in Post-Enlightenment Europe

18:30         Conference Dinner at the Grand Hotel

Saturday, 6 October

9:00-10:00    Paper Session

Geng Youzhuang: Terry Eagleton and Religion

Ward Blanton: Being Post-Political: Nicolas Sarkozy’s Tarnac 9, the Invisible Committee, and the Return of Paul the Apostle

10:00-10:30   Break

10:30-12:00   Paper Session

Matthew Sharpe: Challenging ‘Secular Theological’ Accounts of Modernity: The Case of the Scientific Revolution

Geoff Boucher: Theology, Treason and the Novel: Reading Doctorow’s Book of Daniel

Holly Randall-Moon: The Secular Contract: The British Monarchy and White Diasporic Sovereignty

12:00-13:00   Lunch

13:00-14:00   Paper Session

Karl Hand:    Come Now, Let us Treason Together: Conversion and Revolutionary Consciousness in Luke 22:35-38 and The Hunger Games Trilogy

Randall Read: Emerging Treason

14:00-14:30   Break

14:30-15:30   Paper Session

Alan Cadwallader: Canonizing Treason and Complicity: The Parable of the Mustard Seed

Roland Boer:  A Lost Manuscript: Anatoly Lunacharsky’s Religion and Socialism

15:30-16:00        Close

University of Newcastle, 5-6 October 2012

Venue: The Lockup, former police station. We will meet in the prisoners’ exercise yard …

Since the ‘religions of the book’ centre on calls to personal and social transformation (Hebrew shuv, Greek metanoia, Arabic tawbah), they have given rise to repeated radical and revolutionary movements. This radicalism continues, even in the context of the privatized and individualist faith of the West, but also in Eastern contexts, such as the Taiping Rebellion in China. The political and legal definition of such an act is ‘treason’: conspiring to overthrow the ‘state’, whether the political state or the states of our social and individual lives.

Theology is also notorious for supporting the status quo (see Romans 13). Thus, theology is caught between political reaction and radicalism: the same theological system – whether Christian, Islamic or Jewish – can foster support of an oppressive status quo and yet undermine that state. Or, one theological system – notably some forms of Islam – may challenge the dominance of another, such as Christianity (see Qur’an 5:51).

This tension between religious reaction and radicalism, which takes place within and between theological traditions, is the focus of a two-day conference at the University of Newcastle, to be held on 5-6 October, 2012. It is part of the ‘Religion in Political Life’ project at the university. We will include speakers who bring new perspectives to this discussion, especially from Asia.

Topics include but are not limited to:

1. Permutations of theological treason in Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

2. Internal and systemic tensions between religious radicalism and conservatism.

3. Events when religion’s treasonable resources were deployed to overthrow the ‘state’.

4. Theological dimensions of Islamic-Western tension and misunderstanding.

The symposium will bring five international experts to Newcastle to present papers at the conference. The speakers are Zhang Shuangli (Fudan University, Shanghai), Geng Youzhuang (Renmin University, Beijing), Chin Kenpa (Chung Yuan Christian University, Zhongli, Taiwan), Ward Blanton (University of Glasgow) and James Crossley (University of Sheffield).

Please send paper proposals to me by 14 August.

There is no registration cost for the conference and food will be included, but you will need to get here and find a bed. Recommended accommodation includes The Grand Hotel, the Novocastrian and the great YHA, right by the beach.

To whet your appetite, here’s the Lockup’s exercise yard:

University of Newcastle, 5-6 October 2012

Since the ‘religions of the book’ centre on calls to personal and social transformation (Hebrew shuv, Greek metanoia, Arabic tawbah), they have given rise to repeated radical and revolutionary movements. This radicalism continues, even in the context of the privatized and individualist faith of the West, but also in Eastern contexts, such as the Taiping Rebellion in China. The political and legal definition of such an act is ‘treason’: conspiring to overthrow the ‘state’, whether the political state or the states of our social and individual lives.

Theology is also notorious for supporting the status quo (see Romans 13). Thus, theology is caught between political reaction and radicalism: the same theological system – whether Christian, Islamic or Jewish – can foster support of an oppressive status quo and yet undermine that state. Or, one theological system – notably some forms of Islam – may challenge the dominance of another, such as Christianity (see Qur’an 5:51).

This tension between religious reaction and radicalism, between theology and treason, which takes place within and between theological traditions, is the focus of a two-day conference at the University of Newcastle, to be held on 5-6 October, 2012. It is part of the ‘Religion in Political Life’ project at the university. We will include speakers who bring new perspectives to this discussion, especially from Asia.

Topics include but are not limited to:

1. Permutations of theological treason in Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
2. Internal and systemic tensions between religious radicalism and conservatism.
3. Events when religion’s treasonable resources were deployed to overthrow the ‘state’.
4. Theological underpinnings – much denied – of Islamic-Western tension and misunderstanding.

The symposium will bring four international experts to Newcastle to present papers in the conference and mix with the locals. The speakers are Zhang Shuangli (Fudan University, Shanghai), Chin Kenpa (Chung Yuan Christian University, Zhongli, Taiwan), Ward Blanton (University of Glasgow) and James Crossley (University of Sheffield, to be confirmed).

Please send paper proposals to me by 1 September.

There is no registration cost for the conference and food will be included, but you will need to get here and find a bed.

Capital Against Capitalism

Conference of new Marxist research

25 June 2011

Supported by: Historical Materialism Journal, NS W Fire Brigade
Employees’ Union, and the UTS Cosmopolitan Civil
Societies Centre.

It seems significant, and hardly coincidental, that the
impasse that politics fell into after the 1960s and 1970s coincided with the eclipse
of Marx and the research project of historical materialism. Social democracy,
various left-wing melancholies and/ or the embrace of dead political forms has
stood-in for these absent names. Returning to Marx, to Capital and to the various
traditions tied-up with these names may present a way to cut across this threefold
deadlock.

This conference involves two plenaries and six workshops. In the
opening plenary, Rick Kuhn will overview his new book (with Tom Bramble) Labor’s
Conflict: Big business, workers and the politics of class (Cambridge University
Press, 2010). Geoff Robinson and Tad Tietze will respond. The closing plenary will
be a keynote address from Nicole Pepperell on the key ideas of her forthcoming
book Disassembling Capital (Brill/Historical Materialism Book Series 2011). Dave
Eden will respond.

Visit capitalagainstcapitalism.blogspot.com for workshop
papers, full timetable and registration.

9am-5pm

Saturday 25 June 2011.

NS W FBEU OFFICES

1-7 Belmore St
Surry Hills NS W.

Register now
by visting capitalagainstcapitalism.blogspot. com.

Cost is $30 full or $20 concession.

Space is limited.

capitalagainstcapitalism.blogspot.com | fbeu.net | historicalmaterialism.org | cosmopolitancivilsocieties.com

For those of you thinking of going to the Maramureş, up in the mountains of northern Romania this October (looks like I’m going to be there). Check out the brilliant website:

The North University of Baia Mare, the Faculty of Letters, Department for Foreign Languages

Second Call for Paper

The Third International Anniversary Conference

From Francis Bacon to William Golding: Utopias and Dystopias of Today and of Yore

October 20th – 23rd 2011

We are celebrating 450 years since Francis Bacon’s birth, and 100 years since William Golding’s by launching an invitation to an interdisciplinary fathoming of the depths of the human attraction toward utopias and dystopias. Whether they use the Baconian method ‘invented’ by the 1st (and last) Viscount Saint Alban, or the allegorical treatment of places and characters of the British dystopian poet and novelist, there are hundreds of writers, poets, artists, philosophers and critics that have added new facets and interpretations to the dreams or nightmares of humanity concerning their social organization, political hazards, humanist and religious values, as well as future heavens or apocalypses.

From the New Atlantis to Oleanna, Shangri-La, Xanadu or Shambala, many such Arcadian sites have been imagined by humanity to place their utopian visions. Dystopias are envisaged horrid places of Amalgamation, of the human being living in a Limbo, or in such places like Kazohinia, Kallocain, the future Zanzibar, the Metropole, the Terraplane, Metro 2033, or Grandoria. Since Foucault we also speak of Heterotopias, which are so fashionable in popular culture, especially with such complex and mixed symbols as those present in museums, theme parks, malls, holiday resorts, gated communities, wellness hotels and festival markets…. . Ecotopias, which started in the Hippie Movement with tones of primitivism and eco-anarchism are ‘sweetened’ by such contemporary dreams as the green skyscrapers, or the hovering cities…..

We invite contributions from academics in the domains of philology, philosophy, theology, psychology, and the arts to tackle any aspect of the above, in a conference that will combine paper presentations with cultural events, and with our tribute to the great two personalities that we are celebrating. Theme theatre performances, as well as art exhibitions, movies and musical events will come to add new insights into the vast domain, as well as into the lives and work of Bacon and Golding. We are only suggesting a few guidelines for panel discussions, but we are open to other suggestions, as well, for papers presented either in English or in Romanian:

-         the rhetoric of utopian and dystopian writings;

-         recurrent themes in literary and philosophical debates on utopias and dystopias;

-         genres of utopian and dystopian literary creations;

-         postmodern thinking and Foucault’s concept of heterotopia;

-         ecotopias and New Age; environmentalist interpretations of the future;

-         Bacon and his vision of a New Atlantis;

-         William Golding’s dystopian vision on the ‘civilized’ human being;

-         social and religious utopias and dystopias;

-         transformation, evolution or devolution of utopian thinking during the centuries….

Keynote speakers:

Professor Ian Buchanan, Cardiff University

Professor Roland Boer, Newcastle University

Professor George Achim, North University

 

Scientific Committee:

Prof. Ana Olos, North University (British, American and Canadian studies)

Professor Adrian Otoiu, North University (British, American and Canadian studies)

Professor George Achim, North University (Romanian and European studies)

Professor Petru Dunca, North University (Philosophy and Theology)

Professor Rodica Turcanu, North University (Germanic Cultural studies and  linguistics)

 

Publication committee and reviewers:

Professor Ian Buchanan, Cardiff University

Professor Roland Boer, Newcastle University

Professor Danny Robinson, Bloomsburg University

Professor Petre Dunca, North University

As we would like to encourage a true interdisciplinary participation, with papers delivered both in English and Romanian, we will decide upon sections after the scientific committee has selected the most interesting propositions. Therefore, please fill in the registration form below, and send it to the organizing committee to the following address: baconandgolding@gmail.com by April 25, 2011. For further queries please refer to our website http://baconandgolding.ubm.ro or contact Mrs. Ligia Tomoiaga, at tomoiagaligia@gmail.com

All participants will have 15 minutes for paper presentation and 10 minutes for discussions. Please bring papers in electronic version with you: Time New Roman, 12, with endnotes, APA style.

For those who would like to participate, but who for reasons of distance and cost cannot be present in person, we offer the possibility of video conferencing.

The conference registration fee is € 50 and it covers participation costs, coffee breaks, lunches and conference portfolio. Participation through video conference is € 30 .

We are currently discussing the possibility of publishing our proceedings in an ISBN volume, with Cambridge Scholars Publishing, for papers written in English. The costs will be announced at the conference. Papers will be considered for publication by three independent reviewers. The other papers will be published in a bilingual volume (with ISBN) at the North University Publishing House.