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Emerging Debates in the Anthropology of Religion in Asia

The Victoria University of Wellington's department of Religious Studies, in association with the Ethnography Commons, will host an upcoming workshop exploring Emerging Debates in the Antnthropology of Religion in Asia on July 9th. The call for papers (see below) requests that abstracts and registration for this experimental workshop be received by July 2. 

Call for Papers: 

Religion has always been a central category for anthropological inquiry, and no more so than for anthropologists working in Asia. Marked by a profuse diversity of religious formations, dispositions, rituals, practices, and identities, religion in Asia has frequently been at the cutting edge of empirical and analytical developments in anthropology. The aim of this one-day workshop is to examine new and emerging themes in the anthropological study of religion in Asia in the 21st century.

This innovative workshop will follow a distinctive and experimental design. We invite anthropologists to present brief (10-15 minute) proposals for future research trajectories, using a recent major book-length contribution to the anthropology of religion in Asia as an initial provocation. Through critical readings of the key themes, questions, frameworks, and methodologies presented in these texts, as well as by examining their limitations and short-comings, we aim to open new space for anthropological analysis. The objective of the workshop is to initiate the process of co-authoring an article-length essay that will provide an incisive and lively contribution by outlining future directions for research.

While anthropologists have tended to engage with specific contexts and field sites, the goal of this workshop is to examine the analytical potential for a regional Asian horizon in (re)conceptualising the anthropology of religion. A regional frame is not, of course, meant to suggest reified boundaries or fixed essences, but rather to facilitate questions of scale, comparison, and optics. We thereby seek to bring into conversation diverse research projects in the anthropology of religion in different parts of Asia in order to illuminate cross-cutting trends, continuities, and disjunctures.

As a consequence of placing fieldwork encounters at the centre of knowledge production in the discipline, anthropology remains intensively interested in quotidian lifeworlds of peoples around the world. Our interest in emerging themes in the anthropology of religion is therefore not only a matter of examining how anthropology itself is changing, but also a matter of assessing the contemporary Asian zeitgeist. This workshop seeks to trace contemporary themes, events, and processes around Asia that impinge on religion including, for example, new technologies, environmental challenges, and/or political movements.

Each paper will examine a common core question: What is the major contribution of your selected text to the anthropology of religion and what new lines of inquiry does it afford?

Registration and Paper Proposals

To register for attending the workshop, please email Philip by 2 July 2018. A koha on the day will help with lunch expenses. If you have any food requirements please tell Philip when you register.

To present a paper at the conference, please email both Philip and Bernardo with your paper proposal, including: (a) title; (b) reference details for your selected book (published within about the last five years); (c) short abstract of 100 words; (d) brief bio of 50 words. Papers are invited that address all topics related to the anthropology of religion in Asia. 


Bernardo Brown

Cultural Anthropology, International Christianity University, Tokyo

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Philip Fountain

Religious Studies, Victoria University of Wellington

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